Cannabis and Medicinal Uses

Long-time Rotarian, Dr. Donald Crandall provided Rotary with an overview of medical marijuana. Dr. Crandall provided this overview due to potential legislation, requiring voter approval, of legalizing recreational marijuana use in the state of Michigan this fall.  Dr. Crandall provided this overview from his years of experience helping shape public health policy and his own experiences as a physician in Muskegon.

Dr. Crandall provided Rotary with an overview of marijuana’s history and uses dating back to 12000 BCE. In addition to a detailed history of the uses of marijuana; both medicinal and physical (such as hemp ropes, sails, clothing, etc.…), he provided a detailed description of the marijuana plant and practical uses for each plant part.

Dr. Crandall spent a significant amount of time focusing on the path of criminalizing marijuana use. Starting in the early 1900’s, which is both the onset of the pharmaceutical era and prohibition, there was growing concern regarding the use of heroin and cocaine, as well as marijuana. Marijuana began to be associated with use predominantly by blacks and Mexicans coming to the United States during that time. With the passage of the Propaganda Campaign of 1914, the creation of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics was established.  Dr. Crandall spent quite a bit of time discussing The Boggs Act of 1951 which criminalized marijuana and initiated the start of the war on drugs. Dr. Crandall did report that the American Medical Association lobbied Congress against classifying marijuana as a narcotic and to not criminalize usage of the drug. Under President Nixon, the Drug Enforcement Agency was created and under the surveillance of the Department of Justice. This is where stiffer penalties for possession or use of marijuana began to be enforced by the criminal justice system, and the number of persons incarcerated for possession and use of marijuana skyrocketed.  Dr. Crandall also noted that use of marijuana is not linked to use of heroin or cocaine, and it is not a gateway drug.

Much We Still Don’t Know
Dr. Crandall very thoroughly reported that research regarding medical uses of marijuana requires additional study.  During his synopsis of the criminalization of marijuana, he pointed out that much of the legislation passed included bans on conducting research into the possible medical uses of marijuana.  Dr. Crandall provided some conclusions on the efficacy of marijuana and what it’s known to assist patients with, including pain and nausea. However, due to the federal ban on research into how marijuana could be used, in what doses and for what purposes, requires more in-depth research within the medical community. Dr. Crandall would support additional research and studies due to the current gaps in research regarding the medical uses of marijuana.

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