It can be difficult to locate information about the safety and therapeutic value of cannabis. An unfortunate result of the federal prohibition of cannabis has been limited clinical research to investigate the safety and efficacy of cannabis to control symptoms of serious and chronic illness. Many scientists have noted research is “hindered by a complicated federal approval process, limited availability of research grade marijuana, and the debate over legalization.”1
Nonetheless, the documented use of cannabis as a safe and effective therapeutic botanical dates to 2700 BC. Between 1840 and 1900, European and American journals of medicine published more than 100 articles on the therapeutic use of cannabis. In fact, cannabis was part of the American pharmacopoeia until 1942, and is currently available by prescription in Canada, the Netherlands, Israel, and Germany.
The political interference with cannabis research and its use as a medicine originated with the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. Over the objections of the American Medical Association,2 the United States Congress passed the first federal law restricting access to cannabis, even for medical and research purposes. Since then, numerous reviews by local, federal and international commissions have confirmed the relative safety and efficacy of cannabis as a medicine. And in recent decades, research studies have further shown cannabis has the potential to treat a variety of debilitating conditions for which conventional treatments are lacking. Yet the use of cannabis remains completely prohibited by federal law—even for medical purposes….
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