I was recently asked to write an article on medical cannabis. And to be honest, the thought of writing an article on such a serious subject, was a bit intimidating. An article wouldn't do it justice. I knew this wasn't a subject that could be completed when the paper ran out and was finalized with a period.
However, while attending One World’s yoga festival, I approached a booth, Utah Residents for Medical Cannabis. They politely greeted me and asked me what I knew about medical cannabis. Now, if you had asked me that question a few weeks ago when the idea of writing an article on this exact subject hadn't crossed my mind yet, I would have said, with enthusiasm, "a lot!". But, after being asked to write this article, spending a few weeks thinking about the topic and debating the idea of writing about it, my reaction to this question was much different than expected. I didn't have an answer for them, I tried racking my brain for the first real fact that I knew about medical cannabis. What DID I really know about medical cannabis? To admit ignorance, I really didn't know much about it! I have taken pride in the encouragement I have given to others through my writing to do real research and educate themselves on subjects, like this, that are considered taboo. That's when I knew I had to do just that, and figure out as much information as I could about medical cannabis and write this article so that others can be educated on this subject as well.
Let's start from the beginning. Cannabis has a strong history of medical use dating back thousands of years. Since hemp seed was food in ancient times, it was only a matter of time before they discovered the medical properties. The first written record of the use of cannabis was in 2727 BCE, the emperor of China recommended cannabis for constipation and gout among many other medical complications. The ancient Greeks, Romans, ancient Egypt and the Islamic empire all used the cannabis plant for even more medical complications. In 1545 cannabis spread to the western hemisphere and uses for cannabis continued to grow. Due to this growth of cannabis, small private studies began to show its benefits, these studies showed that cannabis does in fact have medical benefits that include: treating Glaucoma, controlling epileptic seizures, decreases anxiety, slows progression of Alzheimer’s, eases pain and muscle spasms, controls bowel diseases and many, many more benefits. Because of its popularity medical cannabis, in some states, has become legal and we have all heard or seen evidence of its benefits.
So, where did cannabis become bad in the eyes of the federal government? According to drugpolicy.org, in the early 1900's we saw an influx of immigration from Mexico, with them they brought cannabis. The media began to play on the fears the public had on the new citizens. The government, in an effort to keep tabs on the new citizens, decided they needed a reason to search, detain and deport Mexican immigrants. This excuse became marijuana. Their claim was that marijuana caused people of "color" to become violent and solicit sex from white women. This lead to the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 which banned its use and sales. But, it was ruled unconstitutional years later where it was then replaced with the Controlled Substance Act in the 1970's. This established "schedules" for the dangerousness of drugs and their addiction. Cannabis was listed as a Schedule I substance among the other drugs that were deemed most dangerous, most addictive and have no medical value. Other Schedule I substances are: heroin, LSD, meth and ecstasy.
Because cannabis is a Schedule I drug, funding to privately study cannabis for its medical benefits is very hard to get. You need clearance from the DEA to study it and they want you to use their cannabis plants. Without studying the long-term effects of cannabis to humans, the FDA will not clear cannabis for medical use and the FDA will not study the long-term effects of cannabis to humans if cannabis remains a schedule I drug. Therefore, as of right now, private studies are our only hope. If cannabis was to be reclassified it would mean it has a federally accepted medical use. Researchers would no longer need clearance from the DEA to study it, therefore funding to study cannabis would become much easier and the results of the studies could be brought before the FDA for clearance of medical use on a federal level. The answer lies within changing the classification of cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule II or even a Schedule III. Rescheduling can be done by congressional or administrative action. Several bills have been submitted to Congress but have all died.
I am not here to persuade you one way or the other, that's not what I believe in and that's not what this article was meant for. What I want, is for you to realize that there is a possibility that we may be ignorantly and unnecessarily sitting on a miracle drug, something that could tremendously help people in need. The truth is in the testing of cannabis. If we put aside our pride, religion, and anything else that is holding anyone back from supporting medical cannabis and came together in agreement of at least rescheduling and testing cannabis, I truly believe that the results of the testing would be shocking to those in doubt. We need to get involved, use our voices, speak up and make Congress hear our desires.
And, as I mentioned, the truth will lie in the testing. We owe it to ourselves and those in need, to at least allow for the thorough testing of cannabis . To write a letter to congress click here: https://www.utah.gov/government/contactgov.html
Sources: deamuseum.org, Wikipedia, drugpolicy.org, usatoday.com