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Learn About Cannabis

History of Cannabis

For at least 4,000 years, cannabis has been used for its medical properties by civilizations throughout the world, including the ancient Egyptians, Chinese, Indian Hindus, Assyrians, Greeks, Persians, and Romans. In the 1800’s, Irish physician William O’Shaughnessy observed the medical use of cannabis while living in India and introduced it to western medicine.

Cannabis and Its Compounds

Cannabis contains over 500 distinct compounds, which include cannabinoids, terpenoids, flavonoids, and omega fatty acids. Terpenoids are responsible for the aroma of cannabis and other flowering plants.

Human Endocannabinoid System

For most of history, the effects of cannabis on the human body were little understood. Then, in the 1990’s, scientists discovered endocannabinoids, the natural cannabis-like molecules produced by the human body.

Therapeutic Potential

Cannabinoids have demonstrated a wide spectrum of potential therapeutic use. For example, synthetic THC (Marinol) is FDA approved for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, and appetite and weight loss related to HIV/AIDS.14

Health Risks and Abuse Potential

There are also potential detrimental health effects of cannabis and addictive potential. Acute cannabis intoxication temporarily impairs learning, memory, and attention, and can double the risk of traffic accidents.

Legal Status of Cannabis

California was the first state to legalize cannabis usage for medical purposes in 1996. Despite state legalization, cannabis and its main active ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), are classified as “Schedule I Drugs” in the United States under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act.