The Cannabis Sativa (cannabis) is among the earliest known plants to be cultivated by man. The first evidence of the use of cannabis was found in China. Archeological and historical findings indicate that that plant was cultivated for fibers since 4.000
B.C. The fibers from the cannabis stems were used to make paper, ropes, strings, paper and other textiles. The use of cannabis as a medicine by ancient Chinese was reported in the world’s oldest pharmacopeia compiled in the first century of this Era. The writings dating back to around 2.700 B.C. indicated the uses of cannabis included: rheumatic pain, intestinal constipation, disorders of the female reproductive system, malaria, and others. Hua T’o, the founder of Chinese surgery (A.D. 110 – 207), used a compound of the plant along with wine, to anesthetize patients during surgical operations. In India, the medical and religious use of cannabis began together around 1000 years B.C. The plant was used for a great many functions, such as analgesic for neuralgia, headaches or a toothache. It was used as an anticonvulsant for afflictions such as epilepsy, tetanus or rabies. The effects could calm to help with anxiety or hysteria as well as an anesthetic, anti-inflammatory for rheumatism and other inflammatory diseases. It also contained properties that made it useful as an antibiotic, anti-parasite antispasmodic, digestive, appetite stimulant, diuretic, aphrodisiac or an aphrodisiac, just to name a few (Zuardi, 2006).
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There are two species of the Cannabis plant, hemp, and marijuana. The cannabis plant contains compounds called cannabinoids. The hemp plant is high in CBD and low in THC, the cannabinoid that causes the psychoactive effects. Marijuana is the opposite; it is low in CBD and higher in THC. THC and CBD are Cannabinoids that is produced from the Cannabis plant. Cannabinoids are the chemical messengers for the endocannabinoid system in the human body. The endocannabinoid system is a biological system that is vital to the human body. There are endogenous cannabinoids are produced naturally in the human body. These regulate basic functions such as memory, mood, appetite, pain, and sleep, to only name a few. There are also exogenous, that originate outside of the human body, like CBD and THC. The endocannabinoid system is made up of CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB1 are found throughout the human body but primarily in the brain and spinal cord and can assist in reducing the pain sensations. The CB2 are more in the peripheral nervous system and work to reduce inflammation. (Leaf Science, 2017) The research and development into the benefits and effects of the THC and CBD have proven to give relief to many who have had no success with mainstream medications and opiate painkillers.
The 2018 Agricultural Improvement Act removed hemp as a Schedule 1 drug and now it is opened to be farmed as cultivated like any other crop (United States Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, n.d.) and allocates billions of dollars in subsidies. Hemp has over 50,000 industrial uses to make food, clothing, body care items and even research into alternative fuels and biodiesel (Carrel, 2018).
The bottom line is that the cannabis plant was used for thousands of years into the early 1900s and now since 1970, it has been classified the same as heroin, LSD, ecstasy, and peyote. Schedule 2 drugs consist of illicit drugs like cocaine, methamphetamine and methadone and prescription drugs such as hydrocodone, Vicodin, Dilaudid, Demerol, oxycodone, fentanyl, Adderall and Ritalin. (United States Drug Enforcement Administration, 2019). Most of the drugs listed as Schedule 2 are the cause of more crime, death, and overdoses than marijuana. The current federal Opioid Crisis in America was estimated to cost the country approximately $504 billion or the equivalent of 2.8 % GDP in 2015. The CDC in the same year showed that one of the highest death rates was in West Virginia and it was 36 out of every 100,000 people overdosed. They increased by 23% from 2016 to 2017 (Leins, 2017). The current statistic by the National Institute on Drug Abuse is that 130 people die every day from an opioid overdose (National Institute on Drug Abuse : Opioid Overdose Crisis, 2019). Here a few more statistics that they have gathered on how this crisis has risen to this boiling point.
- “Approximately 21 to 29 percent of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them.
- Between 8 and 12 percent develop an opioid use disorder.
- An estimated 4 to 6 percent who misuse prescription opioids transition to heroin.
- About 80 percent of people who use heroin first misused prescription opioids.7
- Opioid overdoses increased 30 percent from July 2016 through September 2017 in 52 areas in 45 states.
- The Midwestern region saw opioid overdoses increase 70 percent from July 2016 through September 2017.
- Opioid overdoses in large cities increase by 54 percent in 16 states.” (National Institute on Drug Abuse : Opioid Overdose Crisis, 2019)
The reclassification of hemp was a step in the right direction but the next step in finding more natural organic medicine, is to also downgrade marijuana from a Schedule 1 to allow for scientific research. The regulation and safe management of the medicinal marijuana and derivatives will bring relief to many and allow those that are dependent on opioid pain medicines to completely rid themselves of the drugs that are so addictive and habit forming.
- Brown, C. (2015, April 15). AmericansForSafeAccess.org. Retrieved from Americans For Safe Access: https://www.safeaccessnow.org/marijuana_is_still_a_schedule_1_drug_judge_rules
- Carrel, L. (2018, December 30). Forbes.com. Forbes. Retrieved from Cannabis Companies Expect Big Growth After Trump Legalizes Hemp: https://www.forbes.com/sites/lcarrel/2018/12/30/cannabis-companies-expect-big-growth-after-trump-legalizes-hemp/#56da8e07342c
- Leaf Science. (2017, March 17). Retrieved from The Endocannabinoid System: A Beginner’s Guide: https://www.leafscience.com/2017/03/17/the-endocannabinoid-system-a-beginners-guide/
- Leins, C. (2017, December 28). The State of the Opioid Crisis Ahead of 2018. US News.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse : Opioid Overdose Crisis. (2019, January). Retrieved from www.drugabuse.gov: https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/opioid-overdose-crisis
- United States Drug Enforcement Administration. (2019, May 20). Retrieved from www.dea.gov: https://www.dea.gov/drug-scheduling
- United States Senate Commitee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. (n.d.). Retrieved May 20, 2019, from https://www.agriculture.senate.gov/2018-farm-bill
- Zuardi, A. W. (2006). History of Cannabis as a medicine: A review. Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry.
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