Louisville Medicine Volume 67, Issue 2 | Page 16

Each year, GLMS invites physicians, residents and students to take part in the Richard Spear, MD, Memorial Essay Contest. For our 12th year of the contest, we asked the question "Should Medical Marijuana Have a Place in Kentucky Health Care?" Almost every state in the U.S. is currently determining how legal a prescription of marijuana should be. For that reason, we wanted to give our own members a voice in the discussion. We hope you enjoy the two winning essays which were judged anonymously and without bias. PRACTICING & LIFE MEMBER CATEGORY WINNER 2019 RICHARD SPEAR, MD, MEMORIAL ESSAY CONTEST SHOULD MEDICAL MARIJUANA HAVE A PLACE IN KENTUCKY? AUTHOR Timir Banerjee, MD “Bhang, ganja, blunt Reefer and goli Enjoy their secret During Holi at Manali The bivouc of life is really short So caress the clay pot Oh, the pleasure of gripping the chillum While sitting on the banks of Jhelum And to be free from shackles Of societal taboo As I see the miracles Right in front of you.” M arijuana has been around in India since at least 2,000 BCE. Cannabis Sativa is the plant that was used to prepare Soma in the Vedic period. Atharvave- da, (1500-1000 BCE), mentions Bhang as one of the five sacred plants that relieved anxiety. Numbers 11:8 said “The people went about and gathered it and ground it in hand mills or beat it in mortars and boiled it in pots and made cakes of it. And the taste of it was like the taste of cakes baked with oil.” It is assumed that the above writing was somewhere in the vicinity of 1,300 BCE by those that believe that the Pentateuch was written by Moses, Sushruta Samhita, (600 BCE), mentions Bhanga as a medicinal 14 LOUISVILLE MEDICINE plant and recommends it for treating catarrh, phlegm and diarrhea. Subsequently, Bhang has been suggested to be used as an appetizer and digestive for a long and lasting life. Still today, Bhang lassi, goli, cakes or chutney are commonly consumed in India on certain occasions by liberated people and by some looking for liberation. Many people from the West have come to India to find spiritual enlightenment through Ganja or Bhang and have learned yoga and mindfulness exercises. There have been, I am sure, occasions when the relaxation from the medicinal ganja has been overwhelming and not been conducive to learning, but nevertheless has produced great sleep. The British Parliament (1) enacted a tax on Bhang and Ganja and Charas in 1798, stating that the tax was intended to reduce cannabis consumption “for the sake of the natives’ good health and sanity.” In 1894, the British Indian government published a report (1,2,3,4,5) stating that “excessive use was comparatively exceptional and moderate use was the rule. The effect of its consumption on the society was rarely appre- ciable and those who consumed in excess only injured themselves.” Prohibition would be difficult to enforce, and alcohol was more harmful. As of the year 2,000, per the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the “prevalence of abuse” of cannabis in India was 3.2%. Now everyone is familiar with the song “Alice’s Restaurant” (1967), lyric by Arlo Guthrie: “You can get anything you want at Alice’s restaurant You can get anything you want at Alice’s restaurant Walk right in it’s around the back