Malhotra P, Casari I, Falasca M.
Derivatives of the plant Cannabis sativa have been used for centuries for both medical and recreational purposes, as well as industrial. The first proof of its medicinal use comes from ancient China, although there is evidence of its earlier utilization in Europe and Asia. In the 19th century, European practitioners started to employ cannabis extracts to treat tetanus, convulsions, and mental diseases and, in 1851, cannabis made its appearance in the Pharmacopoeia of the United States as an analgesic, hypnotic and anticonvulsant. It was only in 1937 that the Marijuana Tax Act prohibited the use of this drug in the USA. The general term Cannabis is commonly used by the scientific and scholar community to indicate derivatives of the plant Cannabis sativa. The word cannabinoid is a term describing chemical compounds that are either derivate of Cannabis (phytocannabinoids) or artificial analogues (synthetic) or are produced endogenously by the body (endocannabinoids). A more casual term "marijuana" or "weed", a compound derived from dried Cannabis flower tops and leaves, has progressively superseded the term cannabis when referred to its recreational use. The 2018 World health organisation (WHO) data suggest that nearly 2.5% of the global population (147 million) uses marijuana and some countries, such as Canada and Uruguay, have already legalised it. Due to its controversial history, the medicinal use of cannabinoids has always been a centre of debate. The isolation and characterisation of Δ9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the major psychoactive component of cannabis and the detection of two human cannabinoid receptor (CBRs) molecules renewed interest in the medical use of cannabinoids, boosting research and commercial heed in this sector. Some cannabinoid-based drugs have been approved as medications, mainly as antiemetic, antianorexic, anti-seizure remedies and in cancer and multiple sclerosis patients' palliative care. Nevertheless, due to the stigma commonly associated with these compounds, cannabinoids' potential in the treatment of conditions such as cancer is still largely unknown and therefore underestimated.