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As of this writing, 23 states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws to legalize the medical use of marijuana. Marijuana for recreational use is legal in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington. Marijuana for medical or recreational use is available in several forms that go far beyond the dry, dusty leaves that many of us geezers associate with our college years. It is commercially available in food products, in various forms for smoking and inhaling, and as topical applications for the skin in a medium of lotion, oil, ointment, gel, or spray. M&B's September/October 2012 Pathology Perspectives column, "Topical Medications," focused on some of the issues surrounding medicated skin creams, especially hormone supplements. At that time, marijuana- infused lotion wasn't on our radar, but that has definitely changed. Even though the skin is a mostly impermeable barrier, some substances can penetrate it and gain access to the bloodstream. For example, topical applications of testosterone or estrogen suspend these hormones in chemicals that can accomplish this process, which is called transcutaneous absorption. This is an issue for massage therapists who don't want to be inadvertently exposed to hormonal medications. But what if a client arrives with a marijuana-infused gel on her skin? HISTORY OF MARIJUANA IN THE UNITED STATES From the early days of the American colonies (George Washington farmed hemp) until the early 1900s, cannabis was probably in every medicine cabinet in the country. It was typically used in salves and ointments for muscle aches and other common complaints. Then in the 1920s, at the conclusion of the Mexican Revolution, a large influx of Mexicans entered the country, bringing with them their own traditions for using marihuana. Suddenly this substance became suspect. Hearings in the 1930s claimed that it would make men of color violent and prone to attacking white women. Individual states began outlawing it, and the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 essentially prohibited it nationally. In 1970, the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act classified cannabis and its subtypes as a Schedule 1 substance: more potentially dangerous than tobacco, alcohol, cocaine, and many other drugs. The criteria for being a Schedule 1 substance include: • The substance has a high potential for abuse. education Cannabis-Infused Lotions & Oils Weeding Out Fact from Fiction By Ruth Werner PATHOLOGY PERSPECTIVES 38 m a s s a g e & b o d y w o r k s e p t e m b e r / o c t o b e r 2 0 1 5

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