In 1964, researchers in Israel discovered the therapeutically active substances in cannabis that have come to be called cannabinoids and isolated the most popular and possibly effective cannabinoid, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). More than 20 years later, in 1988, researchers identified the human body’s endocannabinoid system.
The use of cannabis, as medicine, dates back nearly 5,000 years. During the 19th century—and up until 1942—cannabis was included in the American pharmacopoeia, a list of effective drugs and how to make them used by doctors and pharmacists at the time. Between 1840 and 1900, more than 100 articles were published in medical journals in the United States regarding the efficacy of cannabis for patients. The period of 1837 to 1937 was called by one historian the “golden age of medical cannabis.”
Cannabis’ impact on the human body can be credited, in large part, to what are called Cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are chemical compounds secreted by the plant’s trichomes that offer a wide array of therapeutic benefits. The two most well known cannabinoids are THC and CBD. Cannabinoids bind to receptor sites in the brain and body – this system of receptors is referred to as the Endocannabinoid System.
In 1988, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Law Judge, Francis Young—responding to a petition to reschedule cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act (to make it easier to conduct research into its efficacy)—said, “In strict medical terms, marijuana is far safer than many foods we commonly consume…. Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. By any measure of rational analysis, marijuana can be safely used within the supervised routine of medical care.”
These days, a wide variety of consumption methods exist. Traditionally, cannabis is smoked in either a pipe-type instrument or rolled in paper and smoked like a cigarette (a joint). Oral ingestion (eating cannabis-infused foods) has also been a traditional consumption method in many cultures.
One of the most valuable words in the medical cannabis glossary, that all patients need to understand, is cannabinoid. Cannabinoids, like THC, CBD and CBG, are organic chemical compounds that, with terpenes, makeup the building blocks of the cannabis plant. Translating into medicinally valuable relief, cannabinoids have been successfully used in the treatment of conditions such as cancer, seizures, and Parkinson’s disease and symptoms such as inflammation, pain and nausea.
Cannabis has been used for medical purposes for nearly 5,000 years. As early as 2737 B. C, the Emperor Shen Neng of China was prescribing marijuana tea for the treatment of gout, rheumatism and malaria. The plant’s popularity as a medicine spread throughout Asia, the Middle East and down to the eastern coast of Africa. By the late 18th century, American medical journals recommended hemp seeds and roots for the treatment of a variety of conditions.
One of the great things about turning to cannabis for medicinal purposes is that, unlike traditional pharmaceuticals, the experience can be full of flavor. Terpenes are the organic compounds found in the cannabis plant that are responsible for creating the unique taste and aroma of each individual strain. Interestingly enough, terpenes are not unique to cannabis. They’re organically produced by a variety of plants and insects, including hops – a common flavoring agent found in many beers. Having the option to choose the flavor and scent of the medicinal products you buy makes the process of easing your medical condition that much more enjoyable.
Access Point: A physical location, such as a retail shop or clinic, where patients can purchase medical marijuana; also known as a “dispensary” or a “compassion club.” In states with legalized cannabis, such facilities provide safe access to medicine and often fully test and label their products.
In the past, the only effective way to enjoy cannabis was by lighting up and smoking. By now, the world at large is aware of the many negative effects that go along with inhaling smoke into the lungs. Thanks to the rise of devices called vaporizers, you can enjoy your favorite cannabis strains without exposing yourself to potential carcinogens and other hazardous chemicals. In fact, vaporizers have become so popular and widespread that you can now purchase concentrates, including waxes and oils, to get the most bang for your buck.
Glass pipes combine form with function to create pieces that are both useful and beautiful. They are available in countless styles and colors, from extremely simple to wildly imaginative, and allow users a wide range of smoking experiences. Simple hand pipes are little more than glass tubes. At the other end of the spectrum, bubblers with double or even triple chambers approach engineering marvels with helical smoke chambers and ice reservoirs for cooling the smoke.
As people become more aware of the dangers of inhaling smoke of any kind into their lungs, they’ve set about looking for alternative ways to enjoy the medicinal benefits of various cannabis. Vaping is a prime example, but a phenomenon called dabbing is quickly picking up steam too. In fact, dabbing and vaping are closely related; dabbing more specifically refers to inhaling the vapor that’s produced by heating up cannabis concentrates.
“Dabs” are concentrated forms of cannabis that can be smoked or vaporized one dose at a time. Concentrates may also be called butter, peanut butter, shatter, oil, wax or crumble, with the names descriptive of the appearance or physical properties of the concentrate.
A strain is a genetic variant of cannabis. Most cannabis strains can be classified as either Cannabis Sativa or Cannabis Indica – two variations of the same basic species of cannabis. These two classes of strains tend to have very different effects on the consumer as further detailed below. Today we regularly see the influence of hybrid genetics that combine both indica and sativa varieties.