The early Chinese surgeon Hua Tuo (c. 140-208) is credited with being the first recorded person to use cannabis as an anesthetic. He reduced the plant to powder and mixed it with wine for administration prior to conducting surgery. The Chinese term for "anesthesia" (mázui 麻醉) literally means "cannabis intoxication".
Cannabis is one of the 50 "fundamental" herbs in traditional Chinese medicine, and is prescribed to treat diverse indications.
In India, Cannabis was a major component in religious practices in ancient India as well as in medicinal practices. For many centuries, most parts of life in ancient India incorporated cannabis of some form. Surviving texts from ancient India confirm that cannabis' psychoactive properties were recognized, and doctors used it for treating a variety of illnesses and ailments. These included insomnia, headaches, a whole host of gastrointestinal disorders, and pain: cannabis was frequently used to relieve the pain of childbirth.
In Khorasan, Persia, Hasan ibn al-Sabbah, recruits followers to commit assassinations...legends develop around their supposed use of hashish. These legends are some of the earliest written tales of the discovery of the inebriating powers of Cannabis and the use of Hashish by a paramilitary organization as a hypnotic (see U.S. military use, 1942 below). Early 12th Century Hashish smoking becomes very popular throughout the Middle East.
The 1854 United States Dispensary said this about cannabis;
“Extract of hemp acts as a decided aphrodisiac, increases the appetite, and occasionally induces the cataleptic state. In morbid states it has been found to produce sleep, to allay spasm, to compose nervous inquietude, and to relieve pain. In these respects it resembles opium in its operation; but it differs from that narcotic in not diminishing the appetite, checking the secretions, or constipating the bowels. It is much less certain in its effects; but may sometimes be preferably employed, when opium is contraindicated by its nauseating or constipating effects. The complaints to which it has been specially recommended are neuralgia, gout, tetanus, hydrophobia, epidemic cholera, convulsions, chorea, hysteria, mental depression, insanity, and uterine hemorrhage. Dr. Alexander Christison, of Edinburgh, has found it to have the property of hastening and increasing the contractions of the uterus in delivery. It acts very quickly, and without anesthetic effect. It appears, however, to exert this influence only in a certain proportion of cases.”
Cannabis preparations were removed from the United States pharmacopoeia in 1941 “The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 placed illicit drugs in one of five schedules, and the final decision about which schedule a drug was put in was made not by medical experts but by the Justice Department-the attorney general (John Mitchell) and the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, later named the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).