For many decades the use of marijuana, either for medical or recreational purposes, has carried with it an indelible social stigma. Many have questioned its use as a legitimate medical substance, and its recreational use is most often associated with unsavory types who operate on the fringes of society, such as drug dealers and other assorted criminals. The United States Government still classifies Cannabis as a Schedule I controlled substance, with the Drug Enforcement Administration explicitly stating that marijuana has "no currently accepted medical use". In fact, the current head administrator for the DEA, Chuck Rosenberg, exclaimed that the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes was a "joke". However, there has been a significant cultural shift in the public perception of marijuana use in recent years. The majority of the American population now recognizes that cannabis is a relatively innocuous plant, and that, in fact, it holds a great deal of antioxidant health benefits, if used under the proper circumstances. But even many of those who understand the need to legalize marijuana for medical purposes are still unaware of the true medicinal potential of this wondrous, ancient plant.

Antioxidant Compound in Marijuana Fights Cancer and Heart Disease

Many people are familiar with the health benefits associated with red wine. The compound resveratrol is a powerful antioxidant, which is a broad class of cancer-fighting chemical compounds. But comparatively few are aware that cannabis also contains powerful cancer-fighting agents. A study conducted by the National Academy of Sciences in 1998 led by A. J. Hampson and M. Grimaldi found that cannabidiol, one of the primary non-psychoactive ingredients in marijuana, and tetrahydrocannabinol, a psychotropic compound, both contain powerful neuroprotective antioxidant properties. They were shown to have a protective effect against cancer-causing oxidative damage in the brain, that may otherwise have resulted in a wide range of neurodegenerative disorders, including cerebral ischemia. The data seems to suggest that marijuana is a potent therapeutic agent, with powerful analgesic properties.

In this study, a host of rat test subjects was exposed to dangerous levels of a particular neurotransmitter, glutamate. It was then found that the concentrations of glutamate were dramatically reduced by the use of both cannabidiol, and tetrahydrocannabinol. The result is that cannabis use can actually have a strong protective effect on overall brain function. The terrible irony of these scientific findings is that marijuana detracts will often contend that long-term marijuana use impedes brain function and reduces intelligence. The reality, according to the scientific data, could not be further from the truth. Now this isn't to say, of course, that cannabis is for everyone, or that its psychoactive effects can't be damaging to the neurological development of children. But what it does prove, definitively, is that marijuana holds great medical potential that we have only just become to scratch the surface of.

For many centuries, cultivators of wine have been venerated as being among the most cultured, sophisticated, and refined individuals in our culture. Wine cultivation has long been a source of respect and has always been regarded as a highly dignified occupation. Western society has long acknowledged the many benefits of wine consumption, and yet it has lagged behind considerably with respect to cannabis use. Cannabis is, after all, one of the world's oldest domesticated crops. The earliest evidence of cannabis cultivation dates back to over 10,000 years ago and has been utilized in a myriad of industrial and medicinal purposes all over the world ever since. Perhaps with this new-found scientific understanding of the medicinal potency of the marijuana plant, the cultivation of marijuana will gradually gain the same level of respect and admiration that wine cultivation has held for millennia.