Five essential plants

I was reading a report in the ‘Times of India’ (online) which states, that in traditional ‘Ayurvedic’ medicine.. Cannabis is one of five essential plants. It seems that the west, is only just catching up on it..

An Indian doctor who was trained at Harvard (USA) in medicine is now moving to research & train/teach in the traditional Indian medicinal use of Cannabis.

I read the following :

*You were here to present a paper on cannabis?*
‘I was in Kolkata for the World Ayurveda Congress to present a paper on the endocannabinoid system and therapeutic use of cannabis. It’s been an “Aha” moment for me — cannabis was introduced to the US by a gentleman named Dr William (Brooke) O’Shaughnessy who had come to Bengal in 1833 to learn about ayurveda. That’s when he learnt about cannabis. And here I was, 183 years later, coming to West Bengal to talk about cannabis at an ayurveda conference!’

*Was cannabis used extensively in* *ayurveda* *?*
‘It is one of the five essential plants mentioned in the vedas, along with soma and barley. It is part of our medicinal and spiritual culture. In ayurveda, it was used to improve memory, against leprosy, and many other things.’

*What was the response to your paper at the conference?*
‘There was a lot of curiosity but also caution because it is still illegal. I sensed a feeling of fear when these people even talk to me! And that’s kind of interesting because it’s the same stigma as in the US. India was the origin of cannabis as medicine, we need to bring it back. And I would love to come back to India for this. I believe I’ve planted at least a few seeds on this trip.’

*You say cannabis became the victim of propaganda. How did that happen?*
From India, O’Shaughnessy went to Afghanistan and Nepal to learn about cannabis and took that knowledge to the US and Europe. In 1850, it was part of the US Pharmacopeial Convention (which sets standards) and prescribed by doctors from 1850 to 1942. Those are the facts! Now why did this change? The evidence points not to facts, but propaganda. It began in the 1930s, when they began to call it marijuana, to change the connotations and associate it with Mexicans, blacks and musicians. Movies like Reefer Madness were released. At that time, cannabis was being used as food (hemp seeds), in paper, building material, medicine… The people who had an agenda were the Hearsts, who had paper mills and the power of yellow journalism, DuPont with patents in polyester and nylon, Rockefeller and Carnegie who had pharmaceutical companies. These are the people who changed the face of cannabis. And a man called Harry J Anslinger (Bureau of Narcotics commissioner) was their mouthpiece. Cannabis began to be called the “gateway drug”. They made statements like “Marijuana is the most violent drug in the history of mankind”. Then in 1937, they imposed the Marijuana Tax Act.’

** much of this is highlighted in Jack Herer‘s (RIP) book ‘The Emperor wears no clothes’

*What is its status in the US now?*
‘Cannabis is in Schedule 1 (of the Drug Enforcement Administration) along with heroin and LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide). Schedule 1 drugs are those that have no medical use, no medical research in the US and have the highest potential for abuse. On a federal level, it is still illegal but there are 28 states where you can use medical marijuana. There are nine states where it is now legal for full recreational use. What I’m fighting for is for it to be descheduled and treated like alcohol and tobacco, which means it can be taxed but will be available to people over the age of 21. If it goes into Schedule 2 or 3, it will go into the hands of Big Pharma. Cannabis is not for everybody. But I believe it should be a first-line option, not a last resort.’

** I agree 100%.. it is definitely time that the world relearn about the history of this extremely valuable plant, not just as a way to get ‘high’ BUT mainly for its broad medicinal/therapeutic value, which is being deliberately covered up; echoes of ‘Reefer Madness’ (as mentioned above) are still confusing/misinforming the issues !

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