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For 5,000 years cannabis has been prescribed to patients for medicinal use. This data dates back to ancient China and the prescriptions for use by Shen Neng who recommended the use of marijuana tea for the treatment of gout. Records indicate that after this, cannabis was popularized as a medicine in the ancient world throughout Asia, the Middle East, Greece, and down the eastern coast of Africa. In more recent times William O’Shaughnessy popularized the use of cannabis in Western Europe and England using the substance to treat nausea and the pain of rheumatism or inflammation of the joints.
In the United States the federal government passed The Marijuana Tax Act in 1937 which did not explicitly outlaw the substance, but put in place such regulations that the effect was essentially the same. In 1976 the federal government implemented the Investigational New Drug (IND) research program which allowed participating patients to receive up to nine pounds of cannabis directly from the government. However the program was shut down in 1991 due to allegations that the program undermined federal law. As a result the IND restricted the inclusion of new patients. Today only five of the original participants of the program still receive medicinal cannabis in this way.
In 1996 patients who would benefit from the use of medicinal cannabis began to see progress on the state level. Voter initiatives in California and Arizona approved laws that allowed for the legal use of marijuana as long as it was done with written recommendation from a doctor. Afterwards other states began to follow suit with medicinal marijuana laws passed in Alaska, Colorado, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and Washington D.C. Since then Hawaii, New Mexico, Maryland, Vermont, and Rhode Island have passed laws to help patients gain access to medicinal Marijuana. Today 23 states have implemented medicinal marijuana laws and an additional 16 states have passed laws allowing for the prescription of low-THC high-CBD oils and still more states have legislature that would permit the use of medicinal marijuana pending.
In 2015 three U.S. senators brought the CARERS Act to the floor in an effort to protect those involved with state medicinal cannabis programs. The Act attempted to reschedule cannabis as a Schedule II substance, a move that would allow for more streamlined allocation of funding and permission from the federal government to conduct in-depth research on the benefits of cannabis. The act has received a large amount of support unseen in previous years and if this can be implemented cannabis will be given its opportunity to make a name for itself in modern day pharmacology.