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The roots of medical cannabis as an industry
While cannabis has been used for thousands of years as a therapeutic agent, its commercial viability has only taken shape in the last century. Contemporary treatment is now characterized by a plethora of products in a variety of concentrations, traditional cannabis therapy revolved around one product: tinctures.
At the beginning of the 20th Century, tinctures were found in apothecaries the world over. These cannabis extracts were used by healthcare professionals and patients to help treat a variety of condition and symptoms. Until prohibition in the early-to-mid 1900s, the tincture industry was robust and proved to be first chapter in the textbook on medical cannabis as a commodity.1
Despite the fact that nearly half of all American states still don’t allow cannabis to be used for medical use, others have for decades set a precedent on the issue. As one of the first jurisdictions to implement laws protecting the rights of cannabis patients to medicate, California has long been held as an example of what can be accomplished when sensible drug policies are employed. Since 1996, 31 other American states have followed suit and legalized medical cannabis.2
In Canada, medical cannabis access has been characterized by progression. Legal since 2001, battles for constitutional rights have been fought on the backs of cannabis patients since 1996, when Terrance Parker appealed to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to dispute trafficking charges after he was caught growing cannabis to control his epileptic seizures.3
Over the near 20 years since that case, high courts have again and again sided with Canadian patients, allowing medical cannabis regulations to evolve. In Canada, there is currently one of the most robust medical cannabis frameworks at work. There, the current system sees patients permitted to purchase cannabis from a licensed producer, grow their own medicine, or have someone designated to grow it for them.
Across the world, there are dozens of medical cannabis models that have taken shape since the late 90s and early 2000s. In South America and Europe, a patchwork of policies defines the landscape. There are few Asian countries that allow medical cannabis, though, somewhat conspicuously in the midst of a bloody war on drugs, the Philippines has moved to allow the plant to be used for therapeutic purposes.4
As a country with one of the most revolutionary drug policies, the Netherlands continues to be held as an example of a government that has embraced medical cannabis. In addition to allowing its consumption, the Dutch government makes five strains available to patients to treat a range of ailments and conditions.5
In all of the above examples, medical cannabis has morphed from a beguiled cultural pastime, to a welcome treatment option. The industry that’s formed around the cannabis plant would have been hard to imagine 50 years ago. Where draconian drug policies once determined the commercial status quo around medical cannabis, an entire industry is now beginning to dictate the terms of advancement, innovation, and progress.

  1. “Herbal tinctures 101.” https://www.bulkherbstore.com/blog/herbal-tinctures-101/
  2. “Medical marijuana in the U.S. – statistics and facts.” https://www.statista.com/topics/3064/medical-marijuana-in-the-us/
  3. “The legal history and cultural experience of cannabis.” http://www.heretohelp.bc.ca/visions/cannabis-vol5/the-legal-history-and-cultural-experience-of-cannabis
  4. “Understanding the new Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations.” https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/publications/drugs-health-products/understanding-new-accessto-cannabis-for-medical-purposes-regulations.html
  5. “Will medical cannabis escape the carnage of Philippines president Duterte’s drug war?” https://prohbtd.com/will-medical-cannabis-escape-the-carnage-of-philippines-president- dutertes-drug-war
  6. “The Dutch medical cannabis program.” http://www.ncsm.nl/english/the-dutch-medicinal-cannabis-program

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