It should be noted that this article is for information purposes only and should not, under any circumstances, be accepted as legal advice or health advice.
If you are reading or engaging in a discussion relating to medical marijuana, you will probably have encountered some pretty firm opinions one way or another. It's difficult to really understand why this has become such an emotional subject and the cause of such bitter controversy. The passions and emotion created in some, particularly those that are against its use, makes it hard to reach an objective opinion. So what are the key points in this great debate?
One of the few things that nobody disputes is that marijuana has had a place in medicine for a very long time. Many cultures have used it and for much of the time it was considered to be one of the essential treatments available to medical practitioners, whether formally licensed or of the 'wise woman' variety common in earlier centuries. For a long time its use was regarded as being entirely non-controversial. In fact, by the 19th century, its use was in some natural decline as medical science increasingly looked to other treatments, including the opiates.
By the earlier 20th-century, pressures on the use of medical marijuana were rising from a number of sources, although most of this was targeted at marijuana as a recreational substance. These pressures had their origin in commerce (hemp, a product of cannabis, was seen as a major rival to a number of industrially made products) and also perceptions of morality. In the latter case they may be loosely tied into the great temperance surges, and also concerns relating to racial issues and "the corruption of youth". In the history of these ‘purges’, there seems to have been relatively little differentiation made between the recreational use of marijuana and medical marijuana.
For much of the 19th and first parts of the 20th-century, much of medical science's attitude towards pain and distressing symptoms was largely one of 'grit your teeth and pray'. Yet as time passed, people were increasingly interested in dealing with the distressing symptoms that could arise with a number of illnesses. For the first time in a long while, medical marijuana began to receive more attention, and both experience and some studies indicated that it may be beneficial in alleviating the symptoms of some unpleasant illnesses.
Unfortunately, much of this renewed interest coincided with the development of the underground counter-culture that became prevalent in the 1960s and 1970s. It is arguably the case that for the last 50 years, the debate regarding the medical use of marijuana has become inextricably linked to the debate over the recreational use of the drug to an extent that makes it difficult to tear the two apart. In the United States and other countries around the world, it can be difficult to engage in a sensible and objective discussion on the subject, simply because in many people's minds the recreational use of marijuana and its use for medical purposes, are hopelessly confused.
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