The widespread outlawing of marijuana and its association with drug subculture is largely a 20th-century invention. This drug has been used for medicinal purposes for longer than recorded history is able to document. Its effects on mood, its ability to relieve pain and its other properties have long been known to people all over the world. In fact, among the first references to medical marijuana dates back to 2900 BC. It comes from a Chinese Emperor who noted that it was a popular medicine.

For literally thousands of years, people knew exactly what modern people are just starting to realize again: marijuana has tremendous medicinal properties without many of the side effects that plague other treatments.

All Around the World

The reason that cannabis is oftentimes referred to as “weed” is no accident. Cannabis is a very hearty plant that grows all over the world. In fact, there is evidence that the ancient Egyptians were already using this herb to treat problems with the eyes as early as 1200 BC. Interestingly, glaucoma treatment was one of the first benefits of medical marijuana identified by modern scientists. Today, medical marijuana dispensaries still work with people who have glaucoma and other eye conditions and who use medical marijuana as a treatment.

Of course, when you’re dealing with ancient peoples, not all of the applications to which they put a given drug were actually beneficial. For instance, Indian medicine at one time recommended marijuana as a viable cure for leprosy. Marijuana does not, of course, cure leprosy, but it does demonstrate that marijuana did play a part in their overall theory of medicine. Just as is the case with modern medicine, ancient medicine is full of incidents when people got things right and when people got things wrong.

cannabis in ancient greece

Cannabis in Ancient Greece

The Greeks seem to have figured out that marijuana did a good job of serving as an analgesic. They recommended utilizing marijuana as a way to treat the pain that comes from earaches. They also used it to treat inflammation. Today, marijuana is widely used as an analgesic and is recognized as having excellent properties for killing pain.

Just about any ancient history text will take you from the Greeks to the Romans, and the Romans used medical marijuana just as did the Greeks. Pliny the Elder wrote that medical marijuana was an effective treatment against cramping in the joints and for pain in general.

20th Century

Before the 20th century, marijuana was largely grown by individuals who grew it either for its medicinal qualities, for its recreational potential or for its manufacturing potential. Hemp rope, for example, has been around for an extremely long time and continues to be very useful.

The illegalization of marijuana really starts with the prohibitionist movement in general. Even though most of the prohibitionist legislation passed into history, marijuana prohibitions remain on the books in most places. Today, changing public sentiment and the fact that scientific evidence supports marijuana as a treatment for myriad different conditions have caused medical marijuana to be very much in demand, have forced laws to change to accommodate what the public wants and have helped a great many people to get relief from many different conditions. It seems that society has come full circle in many different ways.

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