Medicine in the Western World has forgotten almost all it once knew about therapeutic properties of marijuana, or cannabis. Analgesia, anticonvulsant action, appetite stimulation, ataraxia, antibiotic properties and low toxicity were described throughout medical literature, beginning in 1839, when O’Shaughnessy introduced cannabis into the Western pharmacopoeia. As these findings were reported throughout Western medicine, cannabis attained wide use. Cannabis therapy was described in most pharmacopoeial texts as a treatment for a variety of disease conditions.
During the second half of the 1800s and in the present century, medical researchers in some measure corroborated the early reports of the therapeutic potential of cannabis. In addition, much laboratory research has been concerned with bioassay, determination of the mode of action, and attempts to solve the problems of insolubility in water and variability of strength among different cannabis specimens. “Recreational” smoking of cannabis in the twentieth century and the resultant restrictive federal legislation have functionally ended all medical uses of marijuana.
In light of such assets as minimal toxicity, no buildup of tolerance, no physical dependence, and minimal autonomic disturbance, immediate major clinical reinvestigation of cannabis preparations is indicated in the management of pain, chronic neurologic diseases, convulsive disorders, migraine headache, anorexia, mental illness, and bacterial infections.