(JHS) Cannabis, commonly known as marijuana, pot, reefer, and grass, is a preparation of the cannabis plant that is used as a psychoactive drug or medicine.
The earliest recorded uses date from the 3rd millennium BC. Despite its long history of use as a natural medicine, since the early 20th century cannabis has been subject to legal restrictions. Possession, use, and sale of cannabis preparations containing psychoactive cannabinoids are currently illegal in many parts of the world.
Despite the U.S. government’s prohibition of the plant, scientists have continued to study it, and people have continued to use it for both recreational and medicinal purposes.
So far, scientific study of cannabis has identified more than 80 unique, biologically active cannabinoids. A recent meta-analysis of these compounds shows well over a dozen therapeutic properties attributable to cannabinoids, including neuroprotective, anti-cancer, anti-bacterial, and anti-diabetic properties.
A review of several hundred papers assessing cannabis’s therapeutic properties is available on the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) website: Recent Research on Medical Marijuana
Support for marijuana use and medical marijuana continues to increase. More than half of Americans say it should be legal. Nearly 9 in 10 think doctors should be allowed to prescribe marijuana for patients.
Despite a growing number of states legalizing use of the plant, under federal law, marijuana is not legal in any form – including for medical purposes. It is, in fact, against federal law to grow, sell, or use cannabis for any purpose. Possession and use can lead to fines and jail time.
To date, no one has ever died of a marijuana overdose.
So why is cannabis still illegal in many states, and why won’t the federal government legalize it (or at least decriminalize it)? It is safer than other drugs – including pharmaceuticals – and shows a lot of promise for the treatment and management of many health conditions.