Although most of the treatments that physicians use have been around only a few decades or less, medical cannabis has been used for millennia. I became even more interested in the early roots of this medicinal herb when our good friend Dr. Barry Gordon of Compassionate Care Clinic of Venice, sent me this photo. It is a prescription for the indica strain of medical cannabis and appears to have been written in 1902 by another Dr. Berger. To the best of my knowledge, he is not a relative of mine.

In the 21st Century, we are still fighting to get medical cannabis taken seriously and equally as a form of medicine. 115 years ago doctors were able to help their patients with this medicine.

Many people are aware that the first American president, George Washington, was a hemp farmer. By 1914, though, the U.S. federal government deemed certain “drugs” illegal, and over the next 20 years, many states passed laws making cannabis illegal.

I am amazed to learn how cultures throughout the world were able to identify and utilize the healing properties of cannabis. The earliest known use of medical marijuana dates back to China in 2737 B.C., when it was used to treat inflammatory conditions and infections. In India, ancient Hindu sects utilized cannabis both for stress and for religious ceremonies.

Researcher Yosef Glassman’s interest in cannabis use in ancient Judaism was sparked when he came across part of the Code of Jewish Law, which states;   “Also, one will beautify [Shabbat candle lighting] when the wick is made from cotton, flax or cannabis…” After this discovery in the ancient text, Glassman sought other references. He found suggestions in the Torah (Old Testament) that Aaron may have burned cannabis as an incense during times of turmoil. He writes about cannabis being used by the ancient Hebrews for anesthesia, respiratory infections, and ear conditions.  He also found multiple references to “Keneh bosem” (sound like cannabis to anyone?!) being used as a medicinal herb, which he points out is also the name of a modern-day Reggae singer!

Fortunately, despite the “Just Say No” propaganda campaign by the Reagan administration in the 1980’s, medical cannabis has made a comeback. California was the first state to legalize medical cannabis, and it is now legal in the USA in 29 states, plus Guam, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. I look forward to the day when medical cannabis is declared legal at the federal level, so more researchers will be comfortable studying this amazing medicinal herb.

David Berger, MD has been successfully treating patients with medical cannabis since 2016 and is currently accepting new patients. For more information on medical cannabis in the Tampa Bay area, visit the Wholistic Pediatrics and Family Care website here. To read other blogs written by Dr. David on medical cannabis, click here.



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