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Medical Marijuana

  • By: Dale H. Gieringer
  • In: Encyclopedia of Drug Policy
  • Edited by: Mark A. R. Kleiman & James E. Hawdon
  • Subject:Public Policy, Drug Crimes

Marijuana, the popular name for cannabis, has been used as a medicine since ancient times. In modern times, medical marijuana has become a political issue as a growing number of U.S. states have moved to legalize its availability even while federal law prohibits it as a Schedule I drug (meaning it has no accepted medical use). Recent years have seen mounting scientific evidence of marijuana's effectiveness for a broad range of conditions and growing use by patients and doctors. However, the U.S. government has resisted changing its Schedule I status.

Cannabis is mentioned in the earliest pharmaceutical texts of the ancient world. Introduced to Western medicine by Dr. William O'Shaughnessy in 1839, it was widely prescribed during the 19th century for conditions including migraines, neuralgia, spasticity, ...

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