Medical Cannabis History + Facts

 In the 1830s, Sir William Brooke O’Shaunessy, an Irish doctor studying in India, found that cannabis extracts could help lessen stomach pain and vomiting in people suffering from cholera.  By the late 1800s, cannabis extracts were sold throughout Europe and the United States to treat stomach problems and other ailments. They were sold in pharmacies and doctors’ offices.

Fast forward to the 1930s, cannabis was removed by the first head of DEA and “marijuana” fear monger Harry J. Anslinger. Cannabis was removed from the US Pharmacopoeia, an official publication listing all medicinal drugs with their effects and dosage, and became illegal in 1937 with the establishment of the Marijuana Tax Act.

Ainslinger propelled the US into decades of misleading and negative information about cannabis. The “War on Drugs” was launched by then President Richard M. Nixon which lasted until the late 1990s when Americans began to come together with a far more favorable approach to medical cannabis.

The Compassionate Use Act of 1996 was passed in California, becoming the first state to legalize cannabis for medicinal use by people with severe or chronic illness. Today, there are 33 states with have medical cannabis programs with some of the last few states decriminalizing cannabis as well as a few states launched adult use/recreational programs.

Medical cannabis qualifying conditions mostly vary state by state yet many share: cachexia (weakness and wasting of the body to due to a severe chronic disease such as cancer), anorexia, severe pain, severe nausea, seizures, severe or persistent muscle spasms, glaucoma, post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain.

Each medical cannabis state’s program has its own website to become a qualified patient, a list of the qualifying conditions and a link to find recommending providers.

The Industry


Responsible for the cultivation and care of cannabis plants. Growers maintain healthy plants and practice safe, patient-friendly feeding methods. Growers ensure the plants are protected from pests, watered and provided with the proper nutrients for optimal growth.


Processors receive medical cannabis plants from growers and are responsible for refining the essential oils, terpenes and cannabinoids found in the cannabis owner into safe, medical cannabis products and concentrates.


A dispensary is a retail location where medical cannabis patients purchase cannabis in a legal and safe manner. Dispensaries offer patients assistance to find an optimal dose and recommend a delivery method to achieve optimal results.


A medical provider with an active, unrestricted license in good standing with their respective state’s Department of Health and is actively registered to prescribe controlled substances (e.g. opioids).  Because medical cannabis is federally illegal and classified as a Schedule 1 drug (having no medicinal value), healthcare providers do not prescribe medical cannabis, they “recommend” medical cannabis.


A highly skilled health-care professional trained and licensed in a medical specialty to diagnose and manage complex medical problems. There are two types of physicians: a doctor of medicine (M.D.) who practices the classical form of medicine, focused on the diagnosis and treatment of human diseases and osteopathy (D.O.) centered around a more holistic view of medicine, focusing is on seeing the patient as a “whole person” to reach a diagnosis, rather than treating the symptoms alone.

Nurse Practitioners (NP)

NPs have advanced training in diagnosing and treating illness and can prescribe medications, treat illness and administer physical exams.


Specialize in pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum, women’s sexual and reproductive health, and newborn care.


A medical doctor devoted to the study and medical treatment of disorders of the foot, ankle and lower extremity.


Doctors who specialize in oral health by diagnosing oral diseases, promoting oral health and disease prevention and creating treatment plans to maintain or restore the oral health of their patient.

 Patients & Caregivers


Any Maryland resident whose registered medical provider recommends medical cannabis as a treatment option for a qualifying medical condition. A patient must register with the MMCC.


A caregiver is a person who is able to purchase medical cannabis from a licensed dispensary on behalf of his or her designated patient(s) and transport the legally obtained medical cannabis to the patient(s).