I was in the 9th grade of my schooling. The bell rang and it was time for my most favorite class, English. The teacher entered and the students were ready with textbooks in front of them. A new chapter began and the teacher recited the lines in it. We listened to her intently and she read out a word called “ganjai chillum”. Unaware of its meaning, all of us listened to it assuming it to be as general as the other words.
Two years later, I was in my 11th grade. Posters saying “NO SMOKING” were on the walls of my college. The reason being,a student from my college was caught as a peddler, a peddler in the most popular drugs of all, Marijuana. The word ganja is just another synonym for Marijuana.The same drug that I had heard of in my school came to picture in college too. But in college, I was educated about it as a drug, a bad drug. I knew of it as a dreadful intoxicant. But did I really judge the book by it’s cover? Yes. I did. Well, this is what I found when I delved a bit deeper.
The History of Marjiuana
It is believed that the first woven fabric was from hemp, in 7000- 8000 BC. Later on, many local governments passed a law requiring farmers to grow the cannabis plant in order to obtain hemp. It was used for medical purposes in China, India and Africa then finally to Europe in 500 A.D.
Tripped Out Fact: In China it was used as medication for rheumatism, gout, malaria, and ironically enough, absent-mindedness. People in Indian as well as in Muslim countries used it for recreational purposes. Muslims in the 12th century, discovered the use of Hashish which quickly spread over North Africa and Iran.
In Egypt, the plant was recommended for ophthalmological, obstetric, digestive, and urological disorders, along with glaucoma and premenstrual syndrome—and most notably to “paralyze” tumors.
Assyrians, Greeks, Hindus, and Jews, recommended it for a vast number of conditions, including impotence, neuralgia, epilepsy, kidney stones, pulmonary congestion, spasticity, depression, anxiety, insomnia, pain, digestion and appetite issues, and obstetric conditions.
Mexican immigrants and Negro Jazz Musicians were the ones who introduced the drug in the USA, as they consumed it for recreational purposes. Owing to the association with minority groups like the Mexicans and the African-American, the plant soon started to gain the status of an evil plant in a considerably racist environment. All this even after research studies in 1942 showed that it was prescribed for various conditions including labor pains, nausea, and rheumatism.
However, later the U.S. Federal Bureau of Narcotics declared a war on drugs and in the coming years it was completely banned. Many researchers who had been the backbone in advocating against the legalization of pot (marijuana) had also been on the payroll of leading pharmaceutical industries which had products that could easily be replaced by marijuana owing to the properties of the plant.
Marijuana in the Present Scenario
Scientific literature has conducted and published over 20,000 studies, the majority of them with results that’ll surprise the mainstream audience across the globe, unaware of what is happening in the field of cannabis research. The constituent chemicals of the plant were proven to be safe and effective by the majority of the results. One of the biggest aspects of the study was directed at understanding the fact that the chemical constituents of Cannabis had no lethal dose.
Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center, Department of Neurology, discovered that using the drug can lead to a reduction in bladder cancer.
Brown University in 2009 discovered that the moderate long-term use of marijuana helped in the reduction of risk with regards to head and neck cancers in a multi-center cohort involving over 1,000 subjects.
“We hypothesized that there would be a positive association between marijuana use and lung cancer and that the association would be more positive with heavier use,” pulmonologist Dr. Donald Tashkin, Professor Emeritus at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA told The Washington Post. “What we found instead was no association at all and even a suggestion of some protective effect.
Other studies prove that marijuana does not affect the respiratory system and that popular belief is a misconception. According to a research conducted in 2006 by Scripps Research Institute, the plant was also seen to be effective when it comes to Alzheimer disease.
The Future of Marjiuana
There has been an uproar in the United States in favour of marjiuana, as far as legalization of the drug is concerned.
It’ll be a boon for the civilization if the drug is legalized according to Jason Silva, host of National Geographic Channel’s Brain Games. Apart from the therapeutic uses, Silva points out that being able to use cannabis represents a step toward cognitive freedom (freedom of thought). The decision to legalize will also disassociate the drug with criminality and boost its association with an immersive altering of consciousness.
44 million people across the globe have been diagonsed wth Alzheimer and by 2030 it’s predicted to be double, and again in 2050 if no action is taken. Alzheimer is the 6th leading cause of death in USA. Moreover, the immense amount of pain and physiological unease caused due to chemotherapy as far as cancer patients are concerned is another aspect of consideration. Can Cannabis be the answer to both these issues?
Then again, we have all seen how commercialization affects everything around us. There was a time when music was pure and untouched by commercialization when it was used as a therapeutic tool for exploring oneself. Now, in the age of commercial music, it has been reduced to nothing but a way to make more and more money. Is this the fate that awaits Cannabis as well? Does legalization do more harm than help? Does legalization mean exorbitant prices for medical users as more and more companies flock to invest in the same? Only time can tell!