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The late 20th Century saw the downfall and re-emergence of medical cannabis. After it was internationally banned, scientific research has been conducted to breath life back into its use, resurrecting it back into the credible mainstream. Since then, the mounting positive research is causing the nations of our world to reconsider their stance on the medical use of marijuana.
The year 2000 saw three addition states within the USA vote for legalization of medical marijuana. These were Hawaii, Colorado and Nevada. Much like the other states where it has become legal, prescribed patients are now allowed to legally use, possess and cultivate cannabis for medical use. They must be on a government register, and using medical grounds as a defense if you are not on the register can no longer be done. In addition, the year 2000 saw the legalization of medical marijuana for prescribed patients in Canada.
In January 2002, FDA funded research finds that medical marijuana, even when low quality, dramatically improves the quality of life of medical patients.
When the US state of California legalized the use of medical cannabis, the Federal Government threatened to take the license away of any doctor that recommended the use of marijuana. In October 2002 the US Court of Appeal ruled this to be unlawful and banned the government from doing so.
In 2003, Jari Dvorak became the first Canadian patient to receive high quality, government grown and approved marijuana, one of the first of many. During this year Dutch pharmacies also started supplying medical marijuana to medical patients.
With an increasing amount of positive research, the UK reclassified cannabis as a class C drug from a class B in 2004. This put it within the least serious classification of illegal drugs. Whilst it is not ideal, it was a step in the right direction, meaning those found in possession faced less serious penalties. It also meant that the use for medical purposes became a mitigating circumstance in court. Within the US 2004 saw Montana also became the 10th US state to legalize the use of medical marijuana, and a poll conducted by the AARP found that 72% of senior citizens were in favor of the legalization of medical marijuana. This is quite a promising development when you consider that they are the generation that grew up largely being told that marijuana is evil.
2005 saw a worrying development for medical marijuana advocates. The US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) conducted a series of raids on medical marijuana dispensaries in California. No arrests were made, but the DEA claimed to want to know how much was being sold and where the supply was coming from.
There were two major events within the US in 2006. Firstly, the FDA confirms its opposition to the use of marijuana for medical means. They claim they have solid evidence that its use is more harmful than good for patients. It was not all doom and gloom though. The Presbyterian Church declared its support for the use of medical marijuana, one of the first major religious bodies to publicly declare its support for weed since ancient times.
In 2007, New Mexico became the 11th state to formally legalize the use of medical marijuana at state level, with the same restrictions and requirements seen in most of the other “legal” states.
2008 saw the second largest group of doctors in the USA call for the reclassification of cannabis, they also openly and publicly supported the use of medical marijuana in non-smoking forms as safe and healthy way to medicate.
2008 was an interesting year for the international medical cannabis community. Residents of the UK saw the sad reclassification of marijuana back to a class B drug, making penalties for those caught in possession much more severe. This was a political move from the previous election in a bid for the Labor Party to be more appealing to conservative voters. It went directly against the advice of the UK Government's Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. France saw the legalization of cannabis derivatives for medical use whilst Germany ruled in favor of 7 patients being able to obtain prescribed cannabis.
In 2008 Californian courts also ruled that current limits placed on the amount a medical patent could possess were unconstitutional. This led the Californian Attorney General to recommend that police to not seize any marijuana in any scope from prescribed patients under the guise of Federal Law.
On a more Archeological note, 2008 saw the discovery of 2 pounds of marijuana buried in an ancient, 2700 year old Chinese tomb, reaffirming that marijuana had a huge cultural and medical significance in ancient civilizations.
In 2009 the US Attorney General stated that DEA raids on medical dispensaries would come to a stop. Emphasis was also largely taken off the prosecution of medical users within states that had legalized its use. This was a major turn around on policy on a Federal level, a change that was largely celebrated.
2009 also saw Maine change its laws to allow for the setup of legal dispensaries as well as the American Medical Association soften its views on cannabis and its classification.
In 2010 the US states of New Jersey, Arizona and DC legalize the use of weed for medical purposes. More professionals recommend re-classification of the drug and courts continue to affirm the rights of medical users.
Unfortunately a lot of the recommendation from the 2010 were quashed on a Federal level in 2011. The US Attorney General sent threatening letters to each state that had legalized marijuana, saying that any state that implemented cultivation and distribution programs would face Federal prosecution. The DEA also refused to reclassify marijuana as a class II drug. A study found that states that had legalized marijuana suffered less fatal car accidents, and the governors of Washington and Rhode Island publicly campaign for the reclassification of marijuana.
Internationally, the Israeli government approves the legalization of government controlled cultivation and distribution for the medical and scientific use of marijuana.
2012 was another year of ups and downs. The Los Angeles City Council rule in favor of closing down medical cannabis dispensaries and the US Court of Appeals once again rejected the reclassification requests for marijuana. However, it saw the sates of Washington and Colorado vote for the legalization of recreational cannabis! It also saw Connecticut and Massachusetts legalize the use of cannabis for medical use.
The previous year (2013) has been a momentous year for the use of medical cannabis. It has seen the Czech republic legalize the cultivation, possession and use of cannabis for medical purposes; both the US states of New Hampshire and Illinois legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes and the US Federal Government state that it is not going to challenge the laws of Washington and Colorado who have now legalized its used for recreation means! A very famous celebrity doctor has taken a U-turn on his previous views and endorsed the use of cannabis, stating that we have been systematically misled and lied to for the last 70 years about the real nature of cannabis!
As you can see, there have been a lot of positive developments in recent history, with more and more happening as this article is written. The world is slowly but surly changing its views on cannabis and its medical use. The battle has largely been fought in the US, it is because this is where the most resistance as well as advocacy has been offered, and as change and research happening there filters out and changes the rest of the world. Just imagine, if and when it becomes accepted internationally, it will change the way of life around the world dramatically - returning cannabis to its historic status of reverence, with all of the scientific evidence to back it up. The future is bright for the medical cannabis.