Since ancient times plants and herbs like willow bark, oregano and garlic have been the source for healing a variety of ailments. These natural remedies were the beginning of many of today’s modern medicines. But often overlooked and ignored in medicinal history has been cannabis’s role in treating the plagues many people experience today.
Often referred to as a “gateway drug”, most of us were taught to fear and turn from cannabis due to the potential it had to lead users down a path to harder drugs, especially in adolescents. The theory is marijuana users lower their “addiction threshold” and will eventually seek out a more powerful high, like that of opioids. But the truth is, there’s no scientific data that supports this idea. In fact, there’s more research and studies that show cannabis might actually be the miracle drug many seek.
Cannabis has always been used as a way to treat pain. The Chinese, Greeks, Indians, and English all used the plant to help manage joint pain, muscle and menstrual cramps, and even aid in childbirth. Interestingly, in 1850 Marijuana was added to the US Pharmacopeia as a treatment for opioid withdrawal. The history of cannabis in the US explains in greater detail why the plant became demonized despite its healing properties. But what’s really interesting is the full circle that’s recently taken place, bringing cannabis to the forefront of medical research for its medicinal potential.
Cancer patients have been allowed to use marijuana to manage pain and stimulate an appetite for a while now in a handful of states. In 2018, the FDA approved oral CBD oil, Epidiolex, to treat those with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, two types of epilepsy. And recently, scientists in Israel discovered how CBD and THC can help manage symptoms of those on the Autism spectrum.
Even more profound, is that in states where cannabis is legal, the number of deaths due to opioid overdose has decreased by an average of 25%. Some doctors are even considering treating opioid dependence with marijuana, especially since many who begin using opiates due so for pain management.
All in all the argument that marijuana is a gateway drug seems misguided at best and lacks a deep understanding of the internal factors that can lead to the use and abuse of drugs (whether they be street drugs or prescription medications). Due to legalization efforts and declassification of marijuana, more research is revealing this powerful plant’s potential to be the miracle replacement for synthetic drugs and a natural way for people to heal.