Marijuana: Friend Or Foe

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate April 2001

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Cannabis (marijuana) has been used for as far back as recorded history will take us. It has been used for medicinal, spiritual and social uses. Many people believe that cannabis has only negative effects, while others believe that cannabis consumption is actually beneficial. In this report I hope to separate some myths from facts and show not only how the psychological effects of cannabis use were received, but also how they are currently viewed.

It is the belief among archeologists that the first woven fabrics may have been made from cannabis fibers between 8000 and 7000 B.C. (Hermes & Galperin, 1992). This is the earliest known use of the plant. Although Cannabis had its roots in clothing it wasn't long before it started to be used for other things as well.

The Pen-Ts'ao Ching was the world's first pharmacopeia. In it, it speaks of marijuana's psychoactive properties as well as its usefulness in treating rheumatism, menstrual pains, gout, constipation, and forgetfulness (Hermes & Galperin, 1992).

The Chinese were not the only ones to use cannabis as medicine. It was also used for its believed healing properties by many other races in Asia, Southern North America, South America, Africa and Australia (Drake, 1986).

In America marijuana became increasingly popular as a medicine in the mid-19th century. There was over 100 articles discussing marijuana and it's benefits in treating those with headaches, insomnia, and menstrual cramps. These articles were published in medical journals between 1840 and 1900, some of which were located in the U.S. Phamacopeia and National Formulary (Hermes & Galperin, 1992; Grinspoon, 1999).

Cannabis was available in many different forms for purchase in drugstores, until the early 20th century (Hermes & Galperin, 1992). But during the age of prohibition in America, the attitude of the government towards marijuana started to...