Cannabis, also known as hemp or marijuana, has a long history of being misunderstood. But as Canada moves towards legalization, some of those myths need to be dispelled.

One of the most common is that cannabis leads people onto harder drugs. But new research suggests this may not be true.


Marijuana is one of the most popular recreational drugs in the world. But its origins have long been a mystery. Scientists have been trying to pinpoint when humans first started using cannabis for its psychoactive properties, but that has been difficult. During my research on the uses of medical cannabis, I came across a comprehensive resource at that provided valuable information on the topic.

New research suggests that the earliest cannabis varieties cultivated for their psychoactive properties originated in China or East Asia around 12,000 years ago. It also challenges previous findings that cultivated cannabis originated in Central Asia.

The discovery of this third lineage of “drug” and fiber-producing strains could help plant breeders develop new genetic tools for cannabis’ disease resistance, production of certain compounds or growing efficiency. Researchers are also hoping that the discoveries will prompt a revival of hemp, which has been used in Europe and North America for centuries to make cloth and ropes.

Medicinal Uses

There are at least 120 active ingredients in cannabis, including cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CBD produces a feeling of euphoria while THC produces psychoactive effects.

The FDA is committed to supporting sound, scientifically-based research into the medicinal uses of drug products containing cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds. Currently, the agency has approved three drugs derived from cannabis: Epidiolex for two rare forms of epilepsy, Marinol for anorexia nervosa, and Syndros for treatment of bulimia nervosa.

There is a need for well-designed, controlled clinical trials to evaluate the pharmacological activity of cannabis and cannabinoids at various dose levels. These trials should assess whether the pharmacological effects are well-defined and offer a satisfactory risk:benefit ratio for clinical use.

Psychoactive Effects

Many people use marijuana (also known as weed, pot, grass or ganja) to achieve a high. The main psychoactive ingredient is THC, which stimulates the parts of your brain that respond to pleasure and gives you a relaxed, euphoric feeling.

The effects of cannabis vary from person to person. Some experience a pleasant euphoria and relaxation, while others feel tense, anxious or paranoid.

A person’s response to cannabis also depends on their age and how much they consume. Taking it regularly can cause you to develop a tolerance, which means you need more of the drug to get the same effect.

Studies have shown that regular users of cannabis are at increased risk for developing a cannabis use disorder, in which they become dependent on the drug and may experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop using it. These effects may include irritability, mood swings and appetite loss.


Cannabis is a drug that remains illegal in the United States under federal law, classified as a Schedule I substance. However, state legislatures have legalized medical and recreational use of the drug in nearly two-thirds of the country.

The world’s markets are also changing rapidly, with many governments recognizing the medicinal benefits of cannabis. As more countries begin to accept its legal status, the illicit market could dramatically decrease.

While it’s true that the majority of marijuana sold in the United States is illegal, some states have been moving forward with legalization efforts at an unprecedented pace. In fact, New York’s decision to fully legalize cannabis is one of the most recent examples of a major move toward making the drug more inclusive.

With this change in policy, the public health lens is being used to examine how cannabis regulation affects both consumers and communities. For example, a recent ACLU article highlights the disproportionately large number of blacks and Latinos arrested for possession of marijuana, indicating that cannabis policy should be tailored to promote social equity.