Cannabis was legal to consume in the United States up until 1937, when the marihuana tax act of 1937 made possession or transfer of cannabis illegal throughout the United States under federal law, excluding medical and industrial uses. The American Medical Association was not in favor of this legislation. Before this law was passed, marijuana was legal and quite popular in the United States. Martin Booth explains in his book Cannabis: A History, that In the 1880s hashish parlors were very popular in America and it was estimated that their were around five hundred of these parlors in New York at the time.
From 1850-1942 cannabis was listed in the U. S Pharmacopoeia as a useful medicine for nausea, rheumatism, and labor pains; it was also easily obtained at the local general store or pharmacy. More than 20 prescription medicines containing marijuana were sold in U. S. pharmacies at the turn of the 20th century, and marijuana-based medications were commonly available until cannabis was taken out of the U. S. Pharmacopeia in 1942. Then in 1970, the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, classified marijuana as a Schedule I drug.
According to this act a schedule I drug means three things: the drug has high potential for abuse, the drug has no currently accepted medical use in the U. S, and there is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug under medical supervision. Other schedule I drugs include heroin, LSD, peyote, MDMA (ecstasy), and mescaline. The once medicinally valued cannabis plant is now classified with drugs in which have completely different and much more harmful effects.
Marijuana cannot be classified with the other schedule I narcotics because it can be beneficial to many people with a number of different diseases or health problems. Marijuana can cure migraines, Doctors in California report they have cured over 300,000 cases of migraines with medical marijuana (medicalinsurance. org marijuana-health-facts). The American Association for Cancer Research has found that marijuana actually works to slow down tumor growth in the lungs, breasts, and brain considerably.
Studies also suggest that use of medical marijuana helps lower intraocular pressure in the eyes of glaucoma patients (glaucoma. org /treatment/should-you-be-smoking-marijuana-to-treat-your-glaucoma-1. php). Marijuana is also a muscle relaxer that has antispasmodic qualities that have proven to be a very effective treatment for seizures (nimh. nih. gov). Marijuana works to stop the neurological effects and muscle spasms that come from multiple sclerosis by protecting nerves from the damage caused by the fatal disease (multiple-sclerosis. emedtv. com).
Marijuana is so beneficial that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) actually used part of the plant. The main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana is tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC for short. The FDA isolated a single molecule cannabinoid pharmaceutical; it was called Marinol and was used for treatment of nausea and vomiting in cancer chemotherapy patients who did not respond to conventional antiemetic treatments, according to the article Medicinal use of cannabis in the United States: Historical perspectives, current trends, and future directions.
From the same article the doctors talk about another medication with similar effects of marijuana, except this one is a synthetic molecule shaped similarly to THC. ) Its called Nabilone and has been approved since 1985 for use with nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy in cancer patients. As of 2011 there are currently sixteen states and Washington D. C. that support medical marijuana. The sixteen states include: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.
Our federal government on the other hand, does not agree with these state laws and continues to prosecute medical marijuana users because it remains illegal under federal law. The medicinal uses of the cannabis plant have been around since our country was founded, yet in present time, marijuana presents no known medicinal value. The founding father of our nation George Washington, said, Make the most of the Indian hemp seed, and sow it everywhere! It has been used in America since our country was founded, but as of now our country cannot come to terms of agreement regarding the cannabis plant. Marijuana can be used to treat or relieve symptoms of many diseases and discomforts, but for now its still illegal and preventing many Americans from getting their medicine. Marijuana has many uses but our federal government cannot see that or chooses not to believe it, regardless, it is still a very applicable medicine. Medical marijuana is used in other countries including our neighbor up north, Canada.
So, why is it still illegal in America? If marijuana were to be legalized in the United States for medical purposes, our country would greatly benefit. Marijuana is one the purest most natural substances known to many yet it is referred to as a drug, however over fifty percent of Americans think that medical marijuana should be legalized. Sometime in the near future our country will recognize all the medical benefits of this magnificent plant, but until then it is still a federal crime to use and possess.