A Look at the History of Medical Cannabis for Cannabis Quality Assurance Students

Some 6,000 years ago, in the ancient empires of Rome, Egypt, and China, people began using cannabis in an effort to treat a wide variety of ailments. Fast forward to the present day, and we know much more about cannabis than we did back then.

Medical cannabis has been part of many cultures all over the world for centuries. Keep reading to learn about the early uses of medical cannabis and how it has transformed over time.

The Early Medicinal Use of Cannabis for Those in Cannabis Industry Careers

Widespread religious use of cannabis long ago allowed people to explore its therapeutic benefits. From malaria to epilepsy, medical cannabis was used all over the world in the effort to help combat a diverse range of conditions. 

4000 – 1000 BC:

  • 4000 BC: Cannabis was deemed one of the “five grains” in China
  • 2737 BC: Earliest recorded use of cannabis for medicinal purposes in Emperor Shen-Nung’s Pen Ts’ao Ching, a Chinese pharmacological book
  • 2000-1000 BC: Used to help treat bronchitis, rabies, anxiety, and more in India through Ayurvedic Medicine
  • 1550 BC: Egyptian medical papyrus indicated that it was believed cannabis was helpful for inflammation

Early Greco-Roman Use:

  • Medical cannabis was widely used between 450-200 BC in ancient Rome, according to the doctor Claudius Galen 
  • Physician Dioscorides used cannabis to treat toothaches and earaches
  • Cannabis was thought to reduce labour pains and was given to the Roman elite

Medical cannabis was used for many different purposes during this time. However, those interested in cannabis quality assurance careers may find that some of these instances are very different from modern recommendations regarding medical cannabis.

Cannabis was used in Ancient Rome

Trans-Continental Cannabis: How Medical Cannabis Spread Across the Globe

From 1300 AD to the 18th Century, new corners of the world began using cannabis for medicinal purposes:

    • 1300 AD: Arab traders brought cannabis from India to Eastern Africa, where it was used to help treat malaria, asthma, fever, and dysentery.
    • 1500AD: when the Spanish colonized the Americas, they brought cannabis with them. Later it was used as a medicinal and psychoactive and medicinal drug by the local peoples.
    • 1798: Napoleon brought Cannabis from Egypt to France. French doctors then studied its therapeutic qualities.

Medical Cannabis in the 20th Century: A History for Cannabis Quality Assurance Students

Those interested in cannabis industry careers may be shocked to know that cannabis was available over-the-counter in 1900 in medications like cough cures.

However, shortly after that, the use of medical cannabis became fraught with controversy in North America and Europe:

      • 1923: Cannabis was added to Canada’s Opium and Narcotic Control Act which limited its use
      • 1937: The US passed the Marihuana Tax Act which banned cannabis 
      • 1970: Cannabis was classified as a Schedule 1 Drug in the US

However, in 2000, Canadians were granted the constitutional right to use cannabis for medicinal purposes, and in 2001 medical cannabis use was legalized.

What will the future of medical cannabis hold?

Are you curious about cannabis quality assurance?

Contact AAPS to learn more!


Interested in AAPS? Contact us directly or provide your information for a call back.

Toronto Campus

885 Sheppard Avenue West Toronto, Ontario M3H 2T4, Canada

Hours of Operation

Mon-Fri 8:30am - 5:00pm Sat - by appointment only
Telephone: 416-502-2277 Toll Free: 1-855-502-2288 Email: info@aaps.ca
I consent to be contacted by Academy of Applied Pharmaceutical Sciences and I understand that I can opt-out later