Health Use

From about 1842 to 1890, marijuana extracts were the second and third most prescribed medicine in the United States. Companies such as Eli-Lilly, Parke-Davis, Tilden's and Brothers Smith were just a few pharmaceutical companies that produced the extracts.

In the same period European and American medical journals published more than 100 articles on the therapeutic use of the drug. It was recommended as an "appetite stimulant, muscle relaxant, analgesic, hypnotic and anticonvulsant."The medicines were considered safe, and not one death was reported as due to hemp medicines during the entire period. Illnesses treated ranged from physical to mental illnesses and included tuberculosis, glaucoma and depression. Before the 20th century, "cannabis [marijuana] extracts were the most commonly used medicines throughout the world" *(Facts About Hemp).

Marijuana is currently used in a legal capacity by a few terminally ill people and one woman suffering from glaucoma. But many advocate its use be extended to AIDS patients, terminal cancer patients and other seriously ill people who may use it to alleviate nausea, pain and other symptoms.

*The American Public Health's Association's
Endorsement on Medical Marijuana

"In November of 1995, the American Public Health Association, the oldest and largest organization of health care professionals in the world, overwhelmingly adopted a resolution urging lawmakers to make marijuana legally available as a medicine for seriously ill patients. The APHA represents more than 50,000 members and has been effectively influencing policies and setting priorities in public health since 1872."

APHA is one of the first major American public health associations to formally recommend using marijuana as a medicine.

According to the American Public Health Association, marijuana can be effective in:

  • reducing introcular pressure in glaucoma
  • reducing nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy
  • stimulation of appetite for AIDS patients suffering from wasting syndrome
  • controlling spacticity associated with spinal chord injury and multiple sclerosis
  • decreasing suffering from chronic pain
  • controlling seizures
    The association also contends that marijuana is an option for patients who are not affected by conventional treatments.

    In addition to the APHA, other groups that endorse medical marijuana are:*(Medical Marijuana Endorsements)

  • California Academy of Family Physicians
  • Federation of American Scientists
  • National Academy of Sciences
  • San Francisco Medical Society

    The potential health benefits of marijuana substantiate a large portion of the case for legalization. Please refer to this section for more information.

    Marijuana: History, Effects and Controversies

    History in the United States

    Hemp Production

    Physical and Psychological Effects

    Religious Use


    The Case for Maintaining Prohibition v. The Case for Legalization