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October 13, 1978

Marijuana: Does It Have a Possible Therapeutic Use?

Author Affiliations

From the Neuropsychiatric Institute, Center for the Health Sciences, University of California at Los Angeles.

JAMA. 1978;240(16):1761-1763. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03290160079036

MENTION marijuana and you will evoke a range of reactions to match every color of the spectrum. Still, such impassioned arguments are no reason to ignore possible therapeutic uses; I address the current status of these studies.

Humans and Cannabis sativa have coexisted for millenniums. The stems of the plant served as a source of hemp fiber for rope, canvas, clothing, and paper. The seeds provided oil for food and are still found in packages of mixed birdseed (sterilized, of course). The leaves and flowering tops have been used by many primitive societies as a folk medicine for a wide variety of ailments.

Every human complaint has been treated with Indian hemp at one time or another, and certain uses were clearly inappropriate. On the other hand, recent careful investigations have substantiated the effectiveness of a few ancient therapeutic applications of the plant. Pain, whether from toothache, dysmenorrhea, or rheumatism,

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