Medical Cannabis Awareness Week, held in the first week of November — November 1 to 7 — is striving to increase awareness and access to those who need medicinal marijuana. Even as countries around the world legalize the usage of cannabis (also known as marijuana), many people still don’t get equal access to this treatment and face stigma when they do. Every day of this event aims to increase education, awareness, and support for the medical cannabis cause.
History of National Medical Cannabis Week
The plant we know as cannabis, marijuana, and a host of other slang terms, has a very old origin story. It dates as far back as 2737 B.C. when Chinese Emperor Shen-Nung wrote about its medicinal properties. It was also mentioned in various other ancient medical texts, such as the Ancient Egyptian “Ebers Papyrus” (1550 B.C.) for treating hemorrhoid pain, ancient Indian texts where it was used for pain relief and also treated illnesses like insomnia and gastrointestinal disorders, and later, in the medical literature from the medieval Islamic world.
The plant eventually spread to Eurasia, the Middle East, and Africa, finding its way to Western medicine in the 1830s via an Irish physician, William Brooke O’Shaughnessy, according to some sources. Apparently, O’Shaughnessy discovered the plant and its medicinal properties while living in India, and brought it home to England with him in 1842. From 1850 until 1942, cannabis was even a part of the United States Pharmacopeia — a non-profit organization publishing an annual collection of drug information — and was easily available at local stores and pharmacies. The drug began to be used less frequently by the 19th century, however, due to more easily ingestible and easily available synthetic drugs.
Cannabis was eventually classified as a ‘drug,’ only regaining the public’s attention in the 1970s and 1980s, after a series of cancer and AIDS patients reported on its pain-relieving properties. By 1996, the drug was being legalized, and the movement to provide medical cannabis to anyone who needs it began in earnest. U.K.-based nonprofit Patient-Led Engagement for Access (PLEA) founded Medical Cannabis Awareness Week as a way to increase support for equal access to cannabis-based medical products. The week-long events are open to patients, doctors, organizations in this sector, and anyone wishing to pledge their support in this regard.
National Medical Cannabis Week timeline
In a global first, Canada approves a system that regulates the use of medical cannabis.
A Gallup poll asks people if cannabis should be legal, and 60% of them give a resounding “yes.”
For the first time, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves Epidiolex, a medicine to treat pediatric epilepsy that uses plant-based marijuana extracts.
According to the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp is no longer part of the legal definition of marijuana, meaning hemp and some hemp-derived products are now legal across the U.S.
National Medical Cannabis Week FAQs
Can I grow medical cannabis in the U.K.?
No individual is permitted to do this. Only licensed companies are authorized to grow cannabis in the U.K.
What are the medicinal uses of cannabis?
Medical marijuana has been used to treat HIV/AIDS, cancer, posttraumatic stress disorder, and other illnesses, but only under the care of a licensed healthcare provider.
What is hemp used for medically?
Hemp, not the same as cannabis, is used in the treatment of eczema, arthritis, high cholesterol, and even constipation.
How to Observe National Medical Cannabis Week
Share your story
Do you or someone you know have a patient story to share? Telling the world about your concerns, pains, and successes with medical cannabis might help normalize this treatment for everyone.
Hear from the experts
Various reputed organizations, including PLEA, regularly organize webinars and speeches from experts and medical professionals in this sector. Check out what these experts have to say about this treatment and its uses, and enter this discussion wherever you can.
Discover the uses of medical cannabis
Conduct your own (responsible) research into the medical uses of cannabis. Learn about how producers are using this drug as a safe and green alternative to aid human health.
5 Interesting Facts About Cannabis
Buried with marijuana
Famous Jamaican musician Bob Marley was laid to rest alongside his red Gibson guitar, a “Bible,” and a bud of marijuana.
'Canvas' is related to 'cannabis'
The former word is derived from the latter, because once upon a time, canvas was made from hemp, aka the same species of plant as cannabis.
It's the first item sold online
In 1972, using the previous version of the internet — ARPANET— students from Stanford bought marijuana from their counterparts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The U.S. has marijuana vending machines
These only-cash-or-coin machines dispense marijuana and are even going to be used in Canada.
Cannabis in Chinese traditional medicine
Traditional Chinese medicine names cannabis as one of its 50 fundamental herbs.
Why National Medical Cannabis Week is Important
Promotes equal access to medical marijuana
For patients with a real need for cannabis-related medicine, this week is a very worthy cause. It is encouraging people all over to get actively involved in spreading awareness about medical cannabis.
Prompts decisive action
Live industry events, a growing patient base, and this annual event — all combine to form conducive conditions for research studies into the effects of medical marijuana. The presence of this real-world evidence can help further expand access to this medicine.
Opens up dialogue
Whether you are exploring alternative treatments or are a healthcare professional supporting medical cannabis treatments, your involvement and support are encouraging signs. The more people get involved, the more exposure this treatment gets, improving the chances of fair access to all.
National Medical Cannabis Week dates