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The History of Medical Marijuana, Blog Banner

Marijuana has been painted as a devilish, psychedelic drug of hippies and stoners for many decades in North America. However, it has a much more rich and interesting history, one that even dates back to the B.C. period.

The image of marijuana use can be attributed to aspects of its culture, however Cannabis the plant has been used in medicine for thousands of years. And although it has been used in medicine for millennia, it wasn’t until the 20th century until the specific mechanism of THC at the neuronal level was studied. This means that for thousands of years, humans were enjoying the benefits of the plant, without acute knowledge of the powerful high it could provide. They just used it because of its powerful pain relief and relaxation potential.

Ancient and medieval physicians mixed the plant into medicines or teas to treat pain and other ailments. Here’s a brief history of medical cannabis to better understand the level of its efficacy in treatments and therapies.


Hemp had a ton of different uses in the ancient world. Most importantly, hemp seeds were consumed by cultures all over the world. Hemp was also a common agricultural crop, harvested for its high-protein seeds, oil, and fiber used for rope and clothes.

The spread of medicinal cannabis first started in China, it then traveled throughout Asia into the Middle East and Africa. Doctors did however, warn against using it too much, as they believed it could cause people to hallucinate. Years later, cannabis culture caught on in India, where the plant was considered holy and a guardian. At the time, there was little scientific evidence behind the medical usefulness of weed.


Throughout the Middle Ages, cannabis was a hugely popular drug in the Middle East. Part of this popularity came from the fact that wine was forbidden in Islam, making many Muslims turn to smoking hashish, the Arab word for marijuana. It was also used in traditional Arabic medicine.

In Europe in the Middle Ages, cannabis wasn’t a part of any religious or spiritual creeds, but it was still integrated into folk medicine. Cannabis was used to treat tumors, cough, and jaundice. Interestingly, medieval physicians and herbalists still warned of using cannabis excessively — believing that too much could cause sterility and other harmful conditions.


In the early 16th century, the Spanish brought cannabis to South America to use for practical purposes such as clothes, bagging, paper, and ropes for their boats industry.

Starting in the 19th century, certain American medical journals were suggesting using hemp seeds and roots to treat various health problems, including skin inflammation and incontinence.  During this time, Mexican immigrants entering the U.S. introduced marijuana to the country (and the word “marijuana” itself likely originated in Mexico), popularizing the recreational use of the drug more. However, many Americans saw those who smoked weed as debaucherous and troublesome, associating cannabis with “lower class” criminality.

In 1914, marijuana use was officially declared a crime in United States, and many countries followed suit. By 1970, marijuana was categorized as a Schedule I drug in the US, meaning it was fully illegal and was recognized as having no accepted medical use.

Jumping forward to 2018, marijuana is legalized in many states in the United States, as well as in many countries around the world.


Marijuana has had a long and eventful history, and although legalization seems to coming down the pipe in many places around the world, many still haven’t totally recognized all of the plants vast medicinal benefits.

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