Fact: Medicinal marijuana has been used since antiquity and its use prior to the 20th century has been well documented.
In the 20th century the benefits of medicinal marijuana use have been overshadowed by its more popular use for euphoric purposes. Medicinal marijuana has also been blamed for producing psychological and behavioral effects that have concerned public officials since the drug first appeared. It was subsequently banned in 1931.
Fact: Medicinal marijuana alleviates the chronic symptoms of many diseases such as Fibromyalgia, AIDS wasting, spasticity from multiple sclerosis, depression, chronic pain, and nausea associated with chemotherapy.
The current debate over medicinal marijuana use is essentially over the value of its medicinal properties relative to the risk posed by its use.
The active ingredient in medicinal marijuana is cannabinoid however it is the actual burning of plant material, the combustion products rather than the cannabinoids that purportedly are the source of health risk concerns. Government officials and others have cited these risks as a major reason for prohibiting or limiting the use of medicinal marijuana.
Outside the therapeutic properties of medicinal marijuana you will find that most current prescriptions have their roots either directly or indirectly in plant remedies.
Digitalis was discovered in foxglove, morphine in poppies, and taxol in the yew tree. Even aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) has its counterpart in herbal medicine: for many generations, American Indians relieved headaches by chewing the bark of the willow tree, which is rich in a related form of salicylic acid.
Current technologies do exist that could alleviate a major concern about the medical use of medicinal marijuana however more research is needed. Experiments have included devices that are designed to release the active ingredients of medicinal marijuana without actually burning the plant material.
It is hoped that soon, medicinal marijuana will be recognized for its medicinal properties and become readily available to the needing public. As with most medicines, convincing the FDA can be a long and arduous process.