History and Uses of Marijuana


Whether you call it Hemp, Mary Jane, Pot, Weed; it doesn't 
matter. It is still Cannabis Sativa, or cannabis for short. And it is
still illegal. The use of marijuana as an intoxicant in the United States became a problem of public concern in the 1930s. Regulatory 
laws were passed in 1937, and criminal penalties were instituted for 
possession and sale of the drug. "Marijuana" refers to the dried 
leaves and flowers of the cannabis plant, which contains the 
non-narcotic chemical THC at various potencies. It is smoked or eaten 
to produce the feeling of being "high." The different strains of this 
herb produce different sensual effects, ranging from a sedative to a 

 The term "marijuana" is a word with indistinct origins. Some 
believe it is derived from the Mexican words for "Mary Jane"; others 
hold that the name comes from the Portuguese word marigu-ano, which 
means "intoxicant". The use of marijuana in the 1960's might lead one 
to surmise that marihuana use spread explosively. The chronicle of its 
3,000 year history, however, shows that this "explosion" has been 
characteristic only of the contemporary scene. The plant has been 
grown for fiber and as a source of medicine for several thousand 
years, but until 500~ AD its use as a mind-altering drug was almost 
solely confined in India. The drug and its uses reached the Middle and 
Near East during the next several centuries, and then moved across 
North Africa, appeared in Latin America and the Caribbean, and finally 
entered the United States in the early decades of this century.
Marijuana can even be used as "Biomass" fuel, where the pulp (hurd) of 
the hemp plant can be burned as is or processed into charcoal, 
methanol, methane, or gasoline. This process is called destructive 
distillation, or 'pyrolysis.' Fuels made out of plants like this are 
called 'biomass' fuels. This charcoal may be burned in today's 
coal-powered electric generators. Methanol makes a good automobile 
fuel, in fact it is used in professional automobile races. It may 
someday replace gasoline. 

 Marijuana has many medical purposes also. The cannabis extract 
was available as a medicine legally in this country until 1937, and 
was sold as a nerve tonic-but mankind has been using cannabis 
medicines much longer than that. Marijuana appears in almost every 
known book of medicine written by ancient scholars and wise men. It is
usually ranked among the top medicines, called 'panaceas', a word 
which means 'cure-all'. The list of diseases which cannabis can be 
used for includes: multiple sclerosis, cancer treatment, AIDS (and 
AIDS treatment), glaucoma, depression, epilepsy, migraine headaches, 
asthma, pruritis, sclerodoma, severe pain, and dystonia. This list 
does not even consider the other medicines which can be made out of 
marijuana-these are just some of the illnesses for which people smoke 
or eat whole marijuana today. There are over 60 chemicals in marijuana 
which may have medical uses. It is relatively easy to extract these
into food or beverage, or into some sort of lotion, using butter, fat, 
oil, or alcohol. One chemical, cannabinol, may be useful to help 
people who cannot sleep. Another is taken from premature buds and is 
called cannabidiolic acid. It is a powerful disinfectant. Marijuana 
dissolved in rubbing alcohol helps people with the skin disease herpes 
control their sores, and a salve like this was one of the earliest 
medical uses for cannabis. The leaves were once used in bandages and a 
relaxing non-psychoactive herbal tea can be made from small cannabis 
stems. Also cannabis, as any other biomass fuels, are clean burning 
and do not increase the amount of CO2 the atmosphere, therefore making 
breathing easier for may people.

 Attempts at legalizing marijuana in the US going on for a long 
time. But just recently two states, California and Arizona, voted to 
legalize it for medical purposes only, but the US government still 
enforces the federal law, stating that federal law overrules state 
law. As said by Dr Cliff Schaffer: "In all my study and review of the 
information regarding this issue, one question keeps coming back to 
me. Let's assume - for the sake of argument - that marijuana has no 
medical value whatsoever, despite the fact that it has a several 
thousand year history of medical use and that a prescription drug is 
made from its primary active ingredient. Let's assume - for the sake 
of argument - that all these medical marijuana patients are just 
fooling themselves. Even in that case, what would we stand to gain as 
a society by punishing sick people and putting them through an already 
overloaded criminal justice system? Even if they are deluding 
themselves-what benefit is there to prosecuting sick people?"

 In conclusion to this, it is important to state that there 
have been hundreds of studies showing that smoking cannabis is
potentially harmful to the brain and body and the same number of 
studies almost, if not totally, contradicting what these have stated.


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