The History of Marijuana: When was Cannabis Discovered
For decades, marijuana and its users have long been shunned by most societies worldwide. However, that changed in recent years, especially in the United States, as more places legalized cannabis for medical and recreational use.
Today, cannabis is one of the most popular ingredients for various food, skincare, and medicinal products. It’s essential to look at the history of marijuana and how different cultures around the world use it to understand how marijuana has reached its current status.
History of Marijuana
According to pollen research, cannabis, or marijuana, developed on the eastern Tibetan Plateau 28 million years ago. The plant, closely related to the joint hop used in beer, still thrives wild throughout Central Asia. You could even say that the history of cannabis dates back to even the earliest civilizations. Most ancient cultures, such as the Assyrians, Greeks, Hindus, and Romans, used cannabis as a herbal medicine. In some parts of the world, cannabis is grown to be made into textile, paper, and rope.
Who Invented Marijuana?
Marijuana wasn’t technically invented but was discovered. The origin of marijuana can be traced to the people in Central Asia several millennia ago. Later it was introduced into Europe, Africa, and the Americas through trade. However, early marijuana plants have lower tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the substance responsible for cannabis’ psychedelic effects. They also have various marijuana strains which affect the flavor and concentration of cannabinoids.
Some researchers suggest that people in the ancient era knew about the psychoactive properties of marijuana. Based on their studies, some groups may have cultivated several varieties of cannabis with higher levels for use in healing practices and religious ceremonies.
When Was Marijuana Discovered
Marijuana’s long and tumultuous history dates back as early as 2,800 B.C. when its use was first documented during the reign of China’s emperor Shen Nung. Marijuana was listed in his pharmacopeia, a book that lists medicinal drugs, their effects, and how to prepare them. Several burned cannabis seeds were also found in shaman’s graves in Siberia and China, dating back as early as 500 B.C.
How did Marijuana get to the United States?
The earliest settlers of the United States brought marijuana, a variety of cannabis used for making clothes, ropes, and sails. In 1618, the State of Virginia required all farmers to grow marijuana because of its various uses. Marijuana was even used as legal tender in some states. George Washington also mentioned his interest in farming marijuana and its potential medical use in one of his journals in 1765.
Medical and Recreational Marijuana in American History
It was not until the 1840s that marijuana became a mainstream medicine and was an essential ingredient in many over-the-counter medicines. In 1841, William Brooke O’Shaughnessy presented the use of marijuana in Western medicine after he traveled to India. During the 1850s, marijuana made it to the U.S. Pharmacopeia.
It was used to treat pain, stimulate appetite, assist opioid withdrawal, and relieve nausea. Cannabis extracts were used to treat stomach issues and other disorders by the late 1800s in pharmacies and clinics across Europe and the U.S.
After the 1910 Mexican Revolution, the United States was flooded with Mexican immigrants who brought with them the practice of recreational marijuana. Marijuana started to be associated with immigrants, bringing about prejudice and anxiety toward newcomers.
During the Great Depression of 1929 to 1939, public resentment toward Mexican immigrants escalated because of unemployment and social unrest. As a by-product, Americans’ view of marijuana veered towards the negative.
Criminalization of Marijuana in the United States
In 1931, marijuana was outlawed by at least 29 states. Then, the Marijuana Tax Act, which criminalizes marijuana, was passed by the U.S. Congress in 1937. Only the industrial use of marijuana was allowed. Samuel Caldwell, a farmer, was the first defendant to be tried under the Marijuana Tax Act. He was detained for selling marijuana and received a sentence of four years of hard labor.
In 1952, the Boggs Act was passed, which created strict punishments for offenses involving marijuana and other drugs. During the 1960s, cannabis gained popularity among anti-war activists, hippies, and other groups promoting counterculture.
“The War on Drugs”
The Controlled Substances Act was signed into law in 1970 by President Richard Nixon. This law placed marijuana into the Schedule I drug category along with heroin and lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). Cannabis was classified as a “gateway drug” in Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) and other anti-drug programs. In 1972, the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse, or the Shafer Commission, recommended lighter punishments for people carrying small amounts of cannabis.
However, the government ignored their findings. President George H.W. Bush continued the anti-marijuana campaign in 1989 on what he called a “New War on Drugs.” In 2010, cannabis was the world’s most consumed and trafficked drug, according to the United Nations World Drug Report.
State-Level Legalization History of Cannabis in the United States
California was the first state to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes via the Compassionate Use Act of 1996. Several other states, such as Alaska, Maine, and Oregon, followed suit to decriminalize marijuana. Today, 29 states plus Washington D.C. and Unite States’ territories of Puerto Rico and Guam allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
Meanwhile, the recreational use of marijuana is legal in eleven states and Washington D.C.; Colorado was the first to do so in 2012. Alaska, Massachusetts, Nevada, Vermont, Michigan, Illinois, Maine, Oregon, and California also legalized marijuana in the next few years. Massachusetts or Mass Marijuana Dispensary doesn’t require adult-age cannabis users to receive any doctor’s prescription when lighting a cannabis roll or taking any CBD product.
Medical cannabis in Modern Times
Medical marijuana primarily treats chronic pain caused by various illnesses, including cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and joint problems. Older folks like them because they are less addictive and safer than opiates. Additionally, it is virtually hard for you to overdose on it.
Today, only a handful of cannabis products are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Those on the list include Cesamet, which contains a synthetic substance resembling THC called nabilone, and Marinol and Syndros, which both has synthetic THC called dronabinol. These items are used to treat vomiting and nausea caused by cancer chemotherapy.
Only time can tell how marijuana will be treated by the government and society in the future. Right now, all we could say is that the history of marijuana is quite colorful with ups and downs, to say the least. If you want to learn more about cannabis, contact our dispensary to get more details.