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In July of last year the debate on whether cannabis should be legalised was rekindled by the Home Secretary David Blunkett He announced the reclassification of cannabis from a class B drug to a class C which is the lowest classification for an illegal drug and puts it on par with anti-depressants and steroids The chronology of cannabis is thought to go back to 2737 BC where it was referred to as a superior herb in the worlds first medical text or pharmacopoeia Shen Nungs Pen Tsao in China and in c600 BC Zend-Avesta an Indian scripture speaks of hemps intoxicating resin Others have followed and in 1788 when the New Edinburgh Dispensatory was produced they omitted many exotic remedies such as scrapings of an elephants tooth dust from the walls of a wrestling school and as a cure for malaria seven bed bugs in meat and beans though cannabis remained It was thought often with no justification as having multiple uses such as easing the pain of earache and treating jaundice and was recommended as it consumeth wind and drieth the seed semen John Gerard 1597 The only controls of medicine in the United Kingdom were provided by the pharmacopoeias which set quality standards for the preparation of drugs but in 1968 the Medicines Act was produced following the Thalidomide tragedy It gave the Government the power to license pharmaceutical companies individual products and clinical trials and also established the Medicines Committee and the Committee on the Safety of Medicines to advise the government on its new powers Cannabis was still listed as a prescribed drug though it was rarely prescribed except to patients that were already drug abusers and in 1971 its licence was revoked thereby prohibiting medical use altogether There appears to be two parts to the argument surrounding the legalisation of cannabis its medical uses and its use as a recreational drug and this only adds to the confusion Research groups
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