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Since 1996 when California passed Proposition 215, making the Golden State the first in the union to allow for medical conditions approved for the use of medical marijuana 28 more states have enacted similar laws.
This trend when looked at over the course of the past 18 years would seem to indicate an avalanche of positive opinion regarding the use of medical marijuana in the United States. However the use of marijuana for the treatment of medical conditions goes back many thousands of years.
A native plant of Central Asia, marijuana may have been cultivated as much as 10,000 years ago. It was certainly cultivated in China by 4000 B.C. and in Turkestan by 3000 B.C. It has long been used as a medicine in India, China, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, South Africa, and South America.
The first evidence of the medicinal use of cannabis is in an herbal published during the reign of the Chinese Emperor Chen Nung 5000 years ago. It was recommended for malaria, constipation, rheumatic pains, "absentmindedness" and "female disorders." Another Chinese herbalist recommended a mixture of hemp, resin, and wine as an analgesic during surgery. In India cannabis has been recommended to quicken the mind, lower fevers, induce sleep, cure dysentery, stimulate appetite, improve digestion, relieve headaches, and cure venereal disease.
In Africa it was used for dysentery, malaria, and other fevers. Today certain tribes treat snakebite with hemp or smoke it before childbirth. In the West cannabis did not come into its own as a medicine until the mid- nineteenth century. During its heyday, from 1840 to 1900, more than 100 papers were published in the Western medical literature recommending it for various illnesses and discomforts. It could almost be said that physicians of a century ago knew more about cannabis than contemporary physicians do; certainly they were more interested in exploring its therapeutic potential.
The first Western physician to take an interest in cannabis as a medicine was William Brooke O'Shaughnessy a young professor at the Medical College of Calcutta. Doctor O'Shaughnessy was also famous for his work in pharmacology and inventions related to telegraphy. His medical research led to the development of intravenous therapy. In India, he gave cannabis to animals, satisfied himself that it was safe, and began to use it with patients suffering from rabies, rheumatism, epilepsy, and tetanus. Doctor O'Shaughnessy then introduced the therapeutic use of Cannabis sativa to Western medicine.
So how does medical Marijuana work?
Medical cannabis (or medical marijuana) refers to the use of cannabis and its constituent cannabinoids, such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), as medical therapy to treat disease or alleviate symptoms. Though not all medical conditions approved for the use of medical marijuana are the same from state to state, they all share many common conditions.
Pain management is the main reason people ask for a prescription or recommendation from their physicians, says Barth Wilsey, MD, a pain medicine specialist at the University of California Davis Medical Center. It could be from headaches, a disease like cancer, or a long-term condition, like glaucoma or nerve pain.
If you live in a state where medical marijuana is legal and your doctor thinks it would help, you can obtain permission to use the plant. Those who have valid recommendations from their doctor are put on a list that allows them to buy marijuana from an authorized seller, called a dispensary.
The FDA has also approved THC, a key ingredient in marijuana, to treat nausea and improve appetite. It's available by prescription Marinol (dronabinol) and Cesamet (nabilone).
Medical marijuana has been used to reduce nausea and vomiting in chemotherapy and people with AIDS, and to treat pain and muscle spasticity; its use for other medical applications has been studied but there is insufficient data for conclusions about safety and efficacy. Short-term use increases minor adverse effects, but does not appear to increase major adverse effects.
Medical cannabis can be administered by a variety of routes, including vaporizing or smoking dried buds, eating extracts, and taking capsules. Synthetic cannabinoids are available as prescription drugs in some countries, examples include; dronabinol, available in the United States and Canada, and nabilone, available in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
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Qualifying conditions to become a medical marijuana patient in Florida include:
ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease
Chronic muscle spasms
Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Any other ailment/condition of the same severity/symptoms, when determined by a physician's opinion that the medical use of marijuana would surpass any potential health risks. (YAY!)
For more information on the Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization, please refer to Amendment 2.