Cannabis is one of the oldest medicines known to man. The Chinese recognized the medicinal and “magical” properties of which many are fond. Ancient Egypt, India, the Middle East and later Europe all have left documents of the uses of cannabis. In the 1700s, an English medical text describes applying hemp to the skin to reduce inflammation, to promote joint health and to dissolve tumors.

George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both grew hemp. The Declaration of Independence was drafted on hemp paper. In 1870, the U.S. Pharmacopoeia listed cannabis as a medicine for various treatments. Cannabis was available over the counter at pharmacies for the better part of the 19th century.

Currently California residents are lucky enough to have access to medical cannabis. Many are rediscovering the incredible diversity of this herb’s healing capabilities. Medical marijuana is not just for the seriously ill or dying, but contains something for just about everyone. People with ADD, headaches, nausea, colds, asthma, any type of pain, anorexia, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, bruises, muscle spasms, insomnia, hangovers, arthritis or skin infections have all found cannabis useful for relieving their symptoms or treating their illness. This list certainly does not give justice to the great utility of marijuana’s medicinal properties.

People suffering from drug addiction sometimes use cannabis for cessation. People who are dependent on alcohol, tobacco, prescription medications (opiate based painkillers, Ritalin, amphetamines, anti-depressants, anxiety meds, etc.) or illegal drugs find transitioning out of addiction easier with a safer alternative for relief. Not to mention people can find relief from withdrawal symptoms like nausea, depression and muscle spasms with the help of pot. It is also worth noting that cannabis tends to have fewer side effects than many prescription drugs.

Different imbalances in the body require diverse applications to achieve optimal health. It is not always as easy as toasting a nice fat bong load, though it can be! For example, it is better to ingest cannabis for a sustained effect. Someone mending a hurt back may want pain relief all day long, so eating a potent baked good is an alternative to smoking multiple times. Someone who would like quick results should smoke or vaporize. Tincture can be used in local applications on the skin on cuts or bruises.
Part of the reason cannabis is such a diverse healing agent is that it contains multiple active ingredients. The two main branches of cannabis used for medicine are the Sativa and Indica. Each sub-strain has differing levels and ratios of Cannabinoids (molecules unique to the cannabis plant) and therefore elicits differing effects. Furthermore, the way in which the plant material is processed leads to slightly different substances as well. Concentrates such as kief, hash, oil and tinctures are more potent. Please remember that this information barely scratches the surface of the complex interface between plant and man. There are such possibilities and potentials with this medicine that it is impossible to list them all. Recognize that only you can explore and understand your relationship with this or any drug.

To the last important issue: How do you get a doctor’s recommendation to use cannabis? First of all, recognize that there is never a need to deny anyone access to a healthy happy state based on a law. If cannabis helps to heal, to optimize your life, use it. For the legal protection of owning, using, growing, buying and processing cannabis, a medical doctor must verify that your use of cannabis is beneficial for treating an illness. Google “medical marijuana doctor.” There are a few highly reputable doctors in this area, Dr. Bearman of Santa Barbara being recognized as one of the leads in the field. After discussing your relationship to cannabis with your doctor don’t forget to ask about your new rights as a legal cannabis user.