Not long ago, Canada has decided to legalize the recreational use of cannabis. Canucks of a legal age (18 or older) will be free to purchase and puff the stuff freely starting October 1st, surely pushing the country further up on the list of the happiest countries in the world (Canada was the 7th last year, and Australia was the 10th).

Canada is the first G7 country to legalize the sale and use of cannabis on its entire territory – the United States did the same in some of its states only. The recreational use of cannabis is only legal in Uruguay, and the use of medical marijuana is legal in Argentina, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland (under license), Germany (for those with a valid prescription), Greece, Israel, Italy, and some other countries. In Australia, the legal status of cannabis is a bit controversial. It is decriminalized for personal use in the Northern Territory, South Australia, the Australian Capital Territory, and Victoria, and legal for medicinal and scientific purposes only.

Cannabis in history

Cannabis has been used both as a medical and recreational plant for thousands of years. Documents dating back as much as 3,500 years have attested the use of cannabis suppositories as a relief for hemorrhoids in Ancient Egypt and as a relief for conditions like insomnia, headaches, and pain, including childbirth, in India. Even Arabic doctors used cannabis to treat various conditions, from inflammations, epilepsy, inflammations and such.

Cannabis was introduced to Western medicine by an Irish doctor called William Brooke O’Shaughnessy. He discovered the plant in the 1830s while living in India where he discovered the plant’s analgesic and anticonvulsant effects. By the 1850s, cannabis spread across Europe and the US, where it was used as a plant-based ailment until the late 19th century. It was slowly displaced by opioids and synthetic pain medications that were easier to dose.

Still, cannabis remained in the US Pharmacopeia until 1941. The plant was banned in the US under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 but soon returned to the center of attention as a substance to provide relief to cancer and HIV patients.

Medical uses

The health benefits of cannabis are still under research but there are already several conditions that it has been proven to treat. Among others, it can be useful to ease chemotherapy-induced vomiting, chronic pain, neurological problems like multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and some others (not yet conclusive), and it may potentially be useful in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Cannabis is thought to treat or cure several other conditions – its usefulness in treating conditions like cancer, dementia, diabetes, epilepsy, glaucoma, and many other conditions are under review.