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Medical marijuana comes from the flower of the cannabis plant, part of a Cannabinaceae family.  This family of wild growing plants includes the hops plant, which is used to brew beer.  Cannabis sativa originated central Asia.  It is been used in the production of textiles and rope for at least 10,000 years.  It is unclear when it began to be used as a medication, but there are references to cannabis as a medicine in ancient China in The Divine Farmer's Materia Medica dating to around 2700 BC.  Cannabis was also listed in a pharmacopeia from Egypt, namely the Eber's Papyrus, dated to 1500 BC. 

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A Brief History of Cannabis: Text


Generations of experience, decades of lost time

The cannabis plant has been grown in the US since its inception. George Washington grew hemp for its fiber and was a vital cash crop for the United States. 

By 1850, cannabis was included in the American pharmacopeia. It was used to treat a number of neurologic, infectious, and painful conditions. 

Cannabis was made illegal in the US with the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. It was further criminalized by the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, at the height of the Vietnam War, where it was classified as a Schedule I drug. Placing a substance on Schedule I means that the drug is deemed to have high potential for abuse and no medical value. This effectively halted all research into the medicinal benefits of cannabis for decades. 

In 1974, Robert Randall, a 26-year-old man with poorly controlled glaucoma, won a landmark case that allowed him to use cannabis medicinally to decrease his intraocular pressure. 

California became the first state in the US to legalize cannabis for medicinal use with the Compassionate Use Act of 1996.

Texas passed the Compassionate Use Act in 2015 (Senate Bill 339). The program was expanded in 2019 to include additional medical conditions as well as medical specialties that were allowed to prescribe medical cannabis. The program was further expanded in 2021, and the allowable percentage of THC was increased from 0.3% to 1% THC. 

Currently, all but 6 US states (as well as Guam, Puerto Rico, and Guam) have enacted legislation to allow either medicinal or recreational cannabis use, yet it still remains illegal on the federal level. 

A Brief History of Cannabis: Image
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