Living through a time of great social and/or political change can give one the opportunity to examine things generally left unexamined. Such can cause one, at least one given to introspection and reflection to perhaps an abnormal degree, the chance to see familiar things from a new angle, not previously considered.
I bring this up because of living through a time when a plant material substance that though previously legal in several jurisdictions has been against the law in many countries for a century is now in the process of becoming legal again, increasingly, in several jurisdictions. I refer of course to cannabis, or marijuana.
There are of course those who use marijuana for recreational purposes, and then there are those who claim to use it for medicinal purposes. No doubt, in jurisdictions where medical use is permitted but recreational is forbidden by law, the true number of those who use it for medical purposes is grossly inflated by large numbers of individuals who use it recreationally under the guise of medical use – e.g. witness the proliferation in Canada, since the new government announced its intent to legalize recreational use, of scores of ‘medical marijuana dispensaries’ that have popped up suddenly. Nevertheless, there are real medicinal uses of marijuana; e.g. it can awaken appetites / help keep food down in sick folk unable to otherwise eat; also, sedative properties. These uses were in fact known about back when marijuana was previously a legal, pharmaceutical product:
I got to thinking, why is it that we don’t often hear any more of people using alcohol for medicinal purposes? I mean, my maternal grandmother always used to have a nip of cherry brandy before bed ‘for medicinal purposes’, as she would say (and no doubt a little bit can help one sleep better), and many women of her generation would make the same excuse (the Queen Mother was known to vouch for the health benefits of her many gin and tonics). In I Timothy 5:23, Paul exhorts Timothy to partake of some wine and water to help his stomach and other ‘infirmities’. And roughly around the same era in which the medicinal properties of marijuana were first recognized in the West, so too were there various ports and wines for ‘invalids’, i.e. people stuck in bed with various ailments (who were apparently less valid than healthy, working folks):
And anyone who is old enough to have heard stories from old-timers now deceased knows that in the early 20th century, liquor was administered to revive people who’d been rescued from exposure to the elements (though no longer recommended for hypothermia victims), plus it was used as an anesthetic in surgeries when real anaesthesia were unavailable.
So what happened? Why don’t doctors prescribe wine or beer or liquor to help remedy various ailments? It’s true that every now and then, a study is published which indicates some health benefits to moderate alcohol consumption, but you never hear of any doctor actually prescribing it, nor do we ever see people taking prescriptions to liquor stores. Is it because there are other, better ‘cures’ for various ailments? Or is it because of Big Pharma, pushing their pills instead? Is it because of a holdover cultural prejudice against alcohol, left over from the Prohibition era? Or is it just because we don’t have the concept of ‘invalids’ any more, therefore no market for fortified wines for people laid up in bed (hey, why not?)? Or is it just because insurance companies would laugh and/or balk at the idea of subsidizing medicinal booze? Why no more medicinal booze?