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April 22, 1974

Marijuana: Medical Papers, 1839-1972

Author Affiliations

Walter Reed Army Medical Center Washington, DC

JAMA. 1974;228(4):506-507. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230290054040

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The rationale for this book appears to be the editor's conviction that medicine should "rediscover" therapeutic uses of marihuana. In an attempt to buttress this thesis, he compiled 25 of the "better professional journal articles" from the past 133 years that pertain to various medicinal or scientific aspects of the drug. Most articles describe personal experiences, therapeutic applications with patients, acute clinical studies, or chemical and pharmacological endeavors. Only Musto's excellent review of the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act is not directly concerned with medical or pharmacological effects of cannabis.

After O'Shaughnessy introduced marihuana into the Western pharmacopoeia in 1839 (his report is the first in this book), the drug was promptly recommended for an utterly endless list of disorders. Despite utopian claims, however, wide acceptance never evolved. The editor's primary explanation for this is that recent "recreational" use and the "resultant restrictive federal legislation" functionally ended medical applications of marihuana.