Whether it’s to be called a psychoactive, dangerous drug or a medically effective pain reliever and anti-nausea miracle drug, marijuana is still considered an illegal drug throughout most of the world.
First occurring as far back as the third millennium, B.C., the Cannabis plant has been used for spiritual, religious, and recreational activities, and more recently discovered to have medicinal purpose as well. According to figures presented by the U.N. (United Nations), approximately four percent (one hundred sixty million) of the population of the world use marijuana each year. About twenty two and a half million people world wide use it on a daily basis, even though it is considered to be an illegal psychoactive drug. Cannabis seems to have originated in south and central Asia and charred seeds from the cannabis plant have been found in ancient burial sites. Hindus from Nepal and India were known to use it thousands of years back.
Most drugs can be classified as depressants, stimulants, or hallucinogens, but cannabis seems to be a mixture of all those properties, and in particular the hallucinogenic nature of it.
THC or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (the active ingredient in cannabis or marijuana), along with over four hundred other chemicals, affect nerve cell receptors, influencing their activity. Some areas of the brain have cannabinoid receptors while others have either few or none at all. These cannabinoid receptors appear to influence parts of the brain effecting memory, pleasure, thought, sensory perception, and concentration. Scientific studies point to cannabinoids such as CBD that seem to produce psychoactive effects as well. Various parts of the plant are used, especially the buds and leaves. Marijuana may be either smoked or used as an ingredient in various food products (cookies and brownies).
My new nurse, Mary Jane?
For the past few decades Marijuana has become popular as an analgesic remedy for pain in cancer patients as well as many other medicinal purposes. Although it is still up for debate, many have found relief from cancer pain and even the nausea and vomiting that result from chemotherapy drugs. AIDS patients have found it helps their pain as well. The intraocular eye pressure that is brought on by glaucoma is greatly lessened by use of medicinal marijuana.
Synthesized cannabinoids, sold as prescription drugs are becoming common place in brand names such as Marinol (dronabinol) and Cesamet (nabilone).
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not yet approved the smoking of marijuana for any disease or condition. However, there are thirteen states which have legalized it only for medical use. A few other countries (Spain, Canada, Austria, and the Netherlands) have also legalized cannabis for medicinal purposes.