The Cannabis Craze: Where did it all begin?

March 20, 2019

By Jeff G. Konin, PhD, ATC, PT, FACSM, FNATA

There is a lot of buzz lately throughout the United States about cannabis. Can it help relieve someone’s pain? Should it be legal to use recreationally? Why is it classified by the federal government in the same category as heroin and LSD? So many questions, so much curiosity. Perhaps the first place to start to better understand cannabis is to know that it is a plant. Yes, a plant – cannabis is a genus of flowering plants. The plant itself is also commonly referred to as “hemp”, although hemp is more accurately the term to describe the components of the cannabis plant that are cultivated for non-drug use.

In the early days dating back to 2700 B.C. cannabis is reported to have been used for rope, clothing, paper, and even food. Its prevalence was recognized al over the world. The Chinese used forms of cannabis to treat such conditions as malaria, constipation, and memory loss associated with aging. Egyptians were said to have used cannabis to treat glaucoma and in India it was believed that cannabis was a cure for leprosy. The Indians also used cannabis as an anesthetic when combined with milk. Lastly, the Brits are on record for using marijuana as a treatment for depression and Queen Victoria believed that cannabis eased the pain associated with menstrual cramps.

In the United States, who would have thought that our founding fathers had ties to cannabis? Both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp on their farms, and John Adams was a proponent of the plant’s capabilities of possessing intoxicating and medical attributes. In the 1930’s marijuana was adopted by the jazz culture and its increased availability led to the creation of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 was opposed by the American Medical Association (AMA) stating that marijuana was still an unknown entity but might have important uses in medicine and psychology in the future. This, the plant was officially deemed illegal and no longer able to be considered for legitimate medicinal purposes.

The first legalization of marijuana in the United States is known as Proposition 215, a ballot initiative in California that exempted patients and caregivers who possessed or grew marijuana for physician recommended medical treatments from criminal prosecution passing by a 56% majority vote. Today, 33 states have approved some form of cannabis and the federal government has approved the cannabidiol drug “Epidiolex” to treat forms of childhood epilepsy.  


Dr. Jeff G. Konin is the Vice President for Global Education and Research at AIB in Largo, Florida and President of Konin Consulting, LLC in Clearwater Florida.  He is a frequent speaker on various topics related to cannabis.for healthcare providers, student-athletes, educators, and administrators. He can be reached at [email protected].

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