According to recent research, the cultivation of cannabis began some twelve thousand years ago in the area of central Asia, what is now Mongolia and southern Siberia. This makes it one of the oldest plants to be cultivated by humans.

By Horacio Mesón

The earliest records of cultural use of cannabis come from the Yangshao, the oldest Neolithic society in China. This civilisation arose in the Yellow River valley and from 5000 to 2000 B.C. based their economy on the cultivation of hemp and cannabis.

Today we find scientific studies on the use of medicinal cannabis in the treatment of: Alzheimer’s, anxiety, gouty arthritis, osteoarthritis, asthma, Asperger’s, ataxia, autism spectrum conditions, palliative/end of life care, depression, chronic pain, Crohn’s disease, refractory epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, tuberous sclerosis, schizophrenia, fibromyalgia, lumbar hernia, inflammation, insomnia, lupus, migraine, trigeminal neuralgia, neurofibromatosis 1, diabetic neuropathy, cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s, psoriasis, burns, chemotherapy, maturational delay, Tourette’s syndrome, essential tremor, old age and post-traumatic stress.

There is a recently published book containing testimonies of patients treated with medical cannabis and treatments for all the aforementioned diseases or life situations. Its title lives up to its content: “MEDICINAL CANNABIS. THE COMPLETE GUIDE”. Its authors are Dr. Celeste Romero and Dr. Marcelo Morante (Year 2021, Editorial magazine THC. Bs. As. Argentina).

If we go through the table of contents of this bulky book of 424 pages we will find these chapters: 1) Theory and history of the cannabis plant, 2) Medicinal preparations, 3) Use / Routes of administration, 4) Treatments, 5) Scientific studies, 6) Stories / Testimonies.

The foreword was written by one of the authors, Dr. Marcelo Morante. Medical doctor graduated from the National University of La Plata (UNLP). Trained in medicinal uses of cannabis (Canada, 2014). Director of the Cannabinology seminar at the Pharmacology Department of the Faculty of Medical Sciences of the UNLP. Professor of internal medicine at the same faculty. Internist and pain expert at the Alexander Luria Neurosciences Institute. Director of the first Postgraduate Course in Endocannabinology and Cannabis Therapeutics (UNLP). Author together with Mariela Morante of the book Sin dolor. Intimate stories of medical cannabis. Coordinator of the Diploma on medicinal and/or therapeutic uses of the cannabis plant (CONICET/UNAJ/MSM). Coordinator of the National Programme of Medicinal Cannabis of the Ministry of Health of Argentina.

Here are some excerpts from the prologue: “This is a book that seeks to empower medical cannabis users so that they can fully exercise sovereignty over their health and their own bodies, taking advantage of all the therapeutic tools that both doctors and patients have been developing to improve people’s quality of life.

It is very important that the book begins by talking about the plant from germination to harvest, in order to understand it in all its complexity. For those of us who are doctors, this allows us to go beyond the purified compounds on which we were educated, a training that makes us reject multimodal tools. This creates major problems when we are dealing with patients who actually have multiple symptoms such as pain that impacts on sleep and generates distress. It is when we have to deal with these processes that we really need tools that offer variables in their effects, i.e. that are multi-target, and provide us with advantages over purified tools.

Another essential point of this book is that it allows us to learn about the different forms of administration of medical cannabis, which allows us to explain to the doctor and the medical user what is the best form of delivery when we are dealing with an acute or chronic symptom, when we want to have an impact on the structure of sleep, if it is necessary to take into account certain interactions with other drugs that also have hepatic metabolisation. All these questions are key to defining the therapeutic process.

The diseases that we tend to find today as therapeutic targets are probably chronic diseases that condition quality of life and make us, as doctors, try to go beyond merely curative thinking to understand that in addition to seeking to alleviate symptoms, we need to improve people’s daily lives. In this sense, cannabis medicine challenges us by proposing a much more committed doctor-patient relationship, much more horizontal, where we have to listen to both the patient who talks to us about chronic pain and the grandchild who tells us about the strain of cannabis he is growing for his grandmother and the improvements he sees in her.

The personal stories with which the book ends reflect another key process of knowledge. This is also what the complex process of medical cannabis users is all about. They are stories that allow us to know why a patient came in search of this tool, what he or she thought beforehand, what he or she thought during the process, what role the grower and the close relative played, what role the doctor played, how these scenarios of accompaniment were generated, what civil organisations had to do and how they organised themselves in search of transferring this benefit to other people.

All of this is part of an educational process and a necessary commitment that our society has undergone. People have to be the protagonists of their own treatment, empowering them to deal with their own pain, their own anguish, how to improve their quality of life and that of their families. It is something extremely necessary, something that people understood, and from there they tried to improve the regulatory frameworks that stood in the way of their wellbeing.

As a doctor and a teacher at a university, I can only emphasise the need for us as actors in these processes to try to generate a deconstruction in order to achieve the greatest possible commitment to suffering and thus ensure that the medicine we dream of practising and teaching our students continues to be understood as an art that overflows with humanity”.

This concludes the prologue. A text that leaves us with a lot, that narrates experiences and gives life. It opens a window through which we can see a new and good world. Not only in the doctor-patient bond and in the action that this will generate when it is massively replicated. But also in that unspoken plot that is established when thousands of young people provide cannabis medicine to their grandparents and together build a new culture. A new way of life and a more humane planet.

And all this is happening right now, today.

See previous post in this series: Medical Cannabis – Mom’s Growing

To be continued…

Author of the book: Dr. Marcelo Morante