Up until the 1930s and 1940s extracts of Indian hemp were used medically to treat a wide variety of diseases. In the USA it was a legal medicine until 1969 and in Britain it was legal until 1971. At the only hearing for the 1937 "Marihuana Tax Act" the representative of the American Medical Association opposed the new law, worrying it would prevent medical use.
In Japan hemp used to have numerous medical applications. Until after WW2 Japanese doctors prescribed cannabis for asthma and other respiratory diseases. Marijuana seeds were used as a mild laxative.
After hearing extensive evidence Francis L. Young, Administrative Law Judge of the US drug police DEA ruled on September 6, 1988:
There are 8 patients in the USA whom the Federal government supplies with 300 marijuana cigarettes every month. On of these patients is Robert Randall who would have gone blind from glaucoma 25 years ago had he not had access to marijuana to treat his condition. Every other year the University of Mississippi grows some 7000 square metres of marijuana plants for the U.S. government. There are 67 million blind people worldwide who lost their eyesight because of glaucoma, many of them in poor countries in the Caribbean and Africa. Marijuana is the most affordable drug that could have saved their eyesight.
Medical marijuana in Tokyo: A Multiple Sclerosis patient will be seeking a taima research license to grow his own medical marijuana. The ancient weed is still being cultivated by the city of Tokyo at the Tokyo Metropolitan Medicinal Plant Garden.
In November 1996 voters in the U.S. states of California and Arizona voted with
an overwhelming majority (56-44% and 65-35%) to legalise marijuana for
medical use when recommended by a doctor.
In reponse to the 1996 election victories for medical marijuana, the head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy of the US, commonly known as the "drug czar", in 1997 commissioned a $900,000, 18 month study to settle once and for all if marijuana is medicine. Released on March 17, 1999 the study, "Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base", confirmed what we've known all along: Marijuana does indeed have medical uses for a number of serious medical conditions. The study suggested that uses of marijuana that do not involve smoking should be investigated but that until then smoked marijuana may be the only thing that works for some patients. Maybe just as important, it also discredited the claims that marijuana is highly addictive, that it acts as a gateway to hard drugs and that its medical use would lead to increased non-medical use. If the government were to acknowledge that marijuana is neither highly addictive nor a gateway to other addictive drugs then what reason is there left to keep arresting its users, especially those patients who have no better medicine to treat various illnesses?