chapter  12
16 Pages

Marijuana

Cannabis sativa, known to mankind since the early millenniums, is capable of abundant growth in both tropical and temperate climates. Since the inception of its cultivation in central Asia over 5,000 years ago, almost every human complaint has been treated with one form or another of this plant. Administration of cannabis preparations for the relief of pain was a recognized therapy until the end of the nineteenth century. Cannabis was felt to be particularly effective for headache, toothache, and menstrual cramps.1 In fact, until the 1930s, preparations of cannabis were not only listed in the Pharmacopeia of the United States and the National Formu­ lary but, in addition, could be found on shelves in pharmacies throughout the country. During the early 1900s, both the Eli Lilly and the Parke Davis Pharmaceutical Companies maintained farms where Cannabis americana, a potent strain of the plant, was grown. Increasing concern over the “evils” of this drug led to the passage of the Marijuana Tax Act in 1937, classifying marijuana as a narcotic and thereby effectively eliminating its legal distribution.2 Today, although there are several synthetic forms of marijuana that exist, the use of this plant even for medical purposes re­ mains controversial and prohibited.