Cannabis History

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8000 BCE Hemp Rope – Evidence of hemp rope used as a tool for pottery has been found in what is modern-day Taiwan. Finding hemp use and cultivation in this date range puts it as one of the first and oldest known human agriculture crops.

6000 – 4000 BCE Cannabis Extracts – Cannabis seeds used for food and oil extracts in China as well as textiles in Turkestan.

2737 BCE Medicinal Cannabis in China – Emperor Shen Neng of China uses marijuana for medicinal purposes. This is the first ever recorded instance of cannabis used for medicine. The Emperor recommended cannabis to treat over 100 different ailments and is still used as a folk remedy in China today.

2000 BCE Shiva, Bhang and Cannabis in India – The Vedas are the oldest Hindu scriptures known to man. In this literature, there are references to Bhang (a mixture of dried marijuana plant material, stems and seeds), which is usually made into a drink. Cannabis is identified as one of the five holy plants used as part of a spiritual offering to the Hindu God, Shiva.

1450 BCE Cannabis in the Bible – In the Bible, the Book of Exodus references “holy anointing oil,” also known as chrism that was made up of about six pounds of cannabis (or kaneh-bosem as it is called in Hebrew) extracted into six quarts of olive oil with other fragrant herbs.

1213 BCE Medicinal Marijuana in Ancient Egypt – Remnants of cannabis plants were found on the mummy of Ramesses II. In Ancient Egypt, cannabis was used to remedy glaucoma, inflammation and other skin ailments. The Egyptians were way ahead of their time.

1000 BCE Bhand used for Medicinal Purposes in India – In India the medical uses of Bhang expand beyond the spiritual realm, and the cannabis mixture is used as an anesthetic and as an anti-phlegmatic.

200 BCE Medical Marijuana in Ancient Greece – Medical cannabis use is recorded in Greece to treat ailments such as earaches, edema and inflammation.

100 BCE Hemp Paper – Techniques for making durable paper out of hemp are perfected in China.

30 Jesus Uses Cannabis Oil – Jesus anointed his disciples with chrism, a holy oil made from cannabis. The holy chrism was used for healing and casting out demons.

200 Cannabis Used in Chinese Surgery – Chinese Surgeon Hua T’o used a mixture of cannabis resin and red wine referred to as “ma-yo” as anesthetic, rendering excruciating procedures painless.

1300 Marijuana Spreads Across Africa – Marijuana and smoking pipes were found in Ethiopia, suggesting that cannabis spread from Egypt into the rest of Africa at this time in history.

1484 Pope Says No to Dope – The Pope declares that smoking cannabis is sacrilegious because of its link to Satanic worship.

1611 Marijuana Travels to North America – Jamestown settlers bring marijuana across the ocean and into North America. Hemp was one of their most important exports. Penalties were imposed by the British government on settlers who did not grow hemp.

1745 George Washington Cultivates Cannabis – The first American president, George Washington, grew hemp at his Mt. Vernon plantation. According to his agricultural records, he was very interested in medical marijuana and was growing cannabis with a high THC content.

1745 Thomas Jefferson Cultivates Hemp – Thomas Jefferson was recorded growing and cultivating marijuana at Monticello. There is no record of Jefferson using marijuana for recreational purposes, compared to Washington, who recorded his experience of smoking in his diary.

1794 The First Dispensary – The first legal medical marijuana dispensary appears in Edinburgh, Scotland.

1840 MMJ Takes the Pain Away for the Queen of England – Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom is prescribed cannabis to relieve menstrual cramps. By this time marijuana is considered mainstream medicine in the West.

1851- Medical Marijuana Officially Recognized by the US – Marijuana is added to the US Pharmacopeia, an official public standard for all prescriptions and over the counter medications.

1915 Prohibition Begins in the US – California is the first state to pass marijuana prohibition laws.

1930 The US Federal Government Takes on Marijuana – Harry J. Anslinger is appointed Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. He represented the most extreme reaction against marijuana use.

1933 Marijuana Demonized by Public Figures – Newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst played a large role in demonizing marijuana by publishing sensationalist and outlandish stories that linked cannabis consumption to violence. Learn more about the “hemp conspiracy” at: “Facts: The Demonization of Marijuana”

1934 Prohibition Begins in China – The Chinese government moves to end all cannabis cultivation, and hashish is made illegal in Chinese Turkestan.

1937 Impact of the Marijuana Tax Act – U.S. Congress passes the Marijuana Tax Act, which criminalized the drug against the advice of the American Medical Association. Congress cited William Randolph Hearst’s outlandish newspaper articles as reasoning for the decision. On October 2nd, in Denver Colorado, Samuel R. Caldwell became the first marijuana seller to be arrested and convicted under federal law.

1938 Reefer Madness -By the end of this year, all 48 states had laws regulating the use of marijuana. Reefer Madness is released to the American public cautioning against marijuana use through the story of a young protagonist whose life is ruined by marijuana. Watch the full film “Reefer Madness Facts”.

1941 Medical Marijuana No Longer Recognized in the US – Marijuana is removed from the U.S. Pharmacopeia and its medicinal use is no longer recognized in the United States.

1942 Cannabis “Truth Serum” – Marijuana was used by the CIA as “truth serum” to extract information from prisoners of war. The experiment was known as Project MK Ultra. Learn more about Project MK Ultra at “Cannabis Truth Serum”

1944 Search for the Truth about Cannabis – The LaGuardia Report concluded that many claims about the dangers of marijuana were exaggerations or completely untrue. This report summarized that marijuana was less dangerous than commonly thought at the time.

1951 The Boggs Act – Based on the misbelief that drug addiction was contagious and that cannabis was addictive, the Boggs Act and the Narcotics Control Act in the U.S. increase all drug penalties and add mandatory prison sentences for first offenses, including minimal possession, with no distinction between users and traffickers.

1970 NORML is Founded – The US National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) was formed. This group of activists and lobbyists campaigns to change laws and end marijuana prohibition: NORML

1970 The Controlled Substances Act – The Controlled Substances Act is passed by Congress, which created the current classification system for drugs. Under this system, marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug with “no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse” along with heroin and cocaine. To learn more about DEA Drug Scheduling click here: “The Controlled Substance Act”

1971 The War on Drugs Begins – President Nixon declared his war on drugs and stated that he would not legalize marijuana regardless of any recommendations. Follow the link for more information on the War on Drugs: “The Begining of the War on Drugs”

1976 Compassionate Use Research Program – The Federal Government creates the Compassionate Investigational New Drug Use Research Program. This allowed for the first American medicinal use of cannabis since modern prohibition.

1992 The End of the Compassionate Use Program – The Compassionate Use program, in which the government provided marijuana to patients with incurable ailments, closes after 16 years, due to a surge in requests from AIDS patients.

1994 The End of the Schedule Battle for MMJ – After 22 years of legal disputes over the rescheduling of marijuana, the final decision is announced that marijuana will remain a Schedule 1 drug.

1996 – 2006 Re-Legalization of Medical Marijuana – California becomes the first state to re-legalize the medical use of marijuana for individuals suffering from AIDS, cancer and other serious ailments. Arizona, Alaska, Colorado, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Washington D.C., Hawaii, Maryland, New Mexico, Rhode Island and Vermont all pass similar measures thereafter.

2001 Bush Intensifies the War on Drugs – The United States Supreme Court rules that there is no medical exception to the Controlled Substances Act and attacks the medical marijuana dispensary, the Oakland Cannabis Buyers Cooperative. President G.W. Bush intensifies the war on drugs by targeting doctors and patients.

2002 Washington Blocks State Laws on Medical Marijuana – Washington D.C. overturns previous rulings that allowed for medicinal use of cannabis without providing any rationale for such decisions, thus preventing any state laws regarding the legalization of medical marijuana from going into effect.

2005 DEA Raids on Legal Dispensaries – DEA agents raided 11 medical marijuana dispensaries in California. No arrests were made. However, many of the dispensaries had their crops seized by federal agents.

2009 Obama Seeks to End the War on Drugs – The Department of Justice announced it would not make the prosecution of legal medical marijuana patients and medical marijuana distributors a priority as long as they abide by state laws regarding medical marijuana. President Obama takes steps to end the 20-year war on drugs.

2010 Colorado Takes the Lead on Regulation of Medical Marijuana – Colorado increases regulations to reduce fraud and abuse in the medical marijuana industry.

2011 Research on States with Medical Marijuana Shows Positive Results – Researchers found that fatal car accidents fell by 9% in states that legalized medical marijuana. The study also found that there was no increase in use of marijuana by teenagers in states with legal medical marijuana dispensaries.

2012 Colorado and Washington Legalize Marijuana – Ballot initiatives in the 2012 election make Colorado and Washington the first states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.

2013 The Truth Comes Out – A well respected doctor, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, reverses his stance on medical marijuana, stating that there is no sound scientific evidence to support the classification of marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug. He concluded, “We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States and I apologize for my own role in that.”

Current – The story continues as more and more states legalize and people share stories to end the stigma and normalize this wonderful plant!!!