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Cannabis History (The Highlights)

The earliest recorded use of cannabis dates back 10,000 years to an ancient village in the island of Taiwan off the coast of mainland China.

The ancient Egyptian goddess Seshat (in her role as the Goddess who measures) is depicted with a hemp leaf in her head dress.

"The Jamestown settlers brought the marijuana plant, commonly known as hemp, to North America in 1611, and throughout the colonial period, hemp fiber was an important export. Indeed, in 1762, 'Virginia awarded bounties for hemp culture and manufacture, and imposed penalties on those who did not produce it.'"

Source: Bernard Segal, PhD  Perspectives on Drug Use in the United States, 1986

Historians agree, President Thomas Jefferson grew fields of cannabis-hemp on his plantation.  However, the argument continues to the validity of the quote referenced in the portrait.

Source: Richard Glen Boire, JD   and Kevin Feeney, JD   Medical Marijuana Law, 2007

"By 1850, marijuana had made its way into the United States Pharmacopeia [an official public standards-setting authority for all prescription and over-the counter medicines], which listed marijuana as treatment for numerous afflictions, including: neuralgia, tetanus, typhus, cholera, rabies, dysentery, alcoholism, opiate addiction, anthrax, leprosy, incontinence, gout, convulsive disorders, tonsillitis, insanity, excessive menstrual bleeding, and uterine bleeding, among others. Patented marijuana tinctures were sold...

US Pharmaceutical Farms Grow 60,000 Pounds of Cannabis Annually

 

"Up to World War I, pharmaceutical supplies of cannabis indica were entirely imported from India (and occasionally Madagascar), in accordance with the U.S. Pharmacopoeia, which specified that it come from flowering tops of the Indian variety...

Finally, in 1913, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Bureau of Plant Industry announced it had succeeded in growing domestic cannabis of equal quality to the Indian. When foreign supplies were interrupted by World War I, the United States became self-sufficient in cannabis. By 1918, some 60,000 pounds were being produced annually, all from pharmaceutical farms east of the Mississippi."

Source: Dale Gieringer, PhD  "The Forgotten Origins of Cannabis Prohibition in California," Contemporary Drug Problems, Summer 1999

Source: Oxford English Dictionary (OED)  "Marijuana"

"The currency of the word [marijuana] increased greatly in the United States in the 1930s in the context of the debate over the use of the drug, the term being preferred as a more exotic alternative to the familiar words hemp and cannabis...

 Influence of a folk etymology from the Spanish personal name María-Juana or its familiar form Mari-Juana has frequently been suggested; if so this would appear to have occurred within English."

"Reefer Madness is a morality tale of how Reefer Addiction ruins the life of its young protagonist and gets a lot of other people killed, sexually compromised and committed to lunatic asylums...

Reefer Madness began its cinematic life as a 1936 cautionary film entitled Tell Your Children. It was financed by a small church group, and was intended to scare the living bejeezus out of every parent who viewed it. Soon after the film was shot, however, it was purchased by the notorious exploitation film maestro Dwain Esper (Narcotic, Marihuana, Maniac), who took the liberty of cutting in salacious insert shots and slapping on the sexier title of Reefer Madness, before distributing it on the exploitation circuit...

Today, the film is a cult phenomenon dwarfed only by The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and 'Reefer Madness' is a bona fide catch phrase."

"Spurred by spectacular accounts of marijuana's harmful effects on its users, by the drug's alleged connection to violent crime, and by a perception that state and local efforts to bring use of the drug under control were not working, Congress enacted the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. Promoted by Harry Anslinger, Commissioner of the recently established Federal Bureau of Narcotics, the act imposed registration and reporting

requirements and a tax on the growers, sellers, and buyers of marijuana. Although the act did not prohibit marijuana outright, its effect was the same. (Because marijuana was not included in the Harrison Narcotics Act in 1914, the Marihuana Tax Act was the federal government’s first attempt to regulate marijuana.)"

"Since about 1968 the University of Mississippi has held a registration from the DEA or its predecessor agency to cultivate marijuana for government use and research activities... [as] the only DEA-registered cultivator of marijuana.

The University of Mississippi... supplies marijuana to researchers for studies ranging from chemical research to preclinical toxicology in animals to clinical work on humans."

At a June 17, 1971 press conference, President Nixon said:


"America's public enemy number one in the United States is drug abuse. In order to fight and defeat this enemy, it is necessary to wage a new, all-out offensive.
 

I have asked the Congress to provide the legislative authority and the funds to fuel this kind of an offensive. This will be a worldwide offensive dealing with the problems of sources of supply, as well as Americans who may be stationed abroad, wherever they are in the world...I have brought Dr. [Jerome H.] Jaffe into the White House, directly reporting to me [as Special Consultant to the President for Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs], so that we have not only the responsibility but the authority to see that we wage this offensive effectively and in a coordinated way."

1978 - Federal Government IND Compassionate Use Program Supplies Patients with Marijuana


"NIDA also supplies cannabis to seven patients under single patient so-called 'compassionate use' Investigational New Drug Applications (IND). In 1978, as part of a lawsuit settlement by the Department of Health and Human Services, NIDA began supplying cannabis to patients whose physicians applied for and received such an USID from the FDA."

"In 1980, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) began experimental distribution of a new drug called Marinol, an oral form of THC (the primary active ingredient in marijuana), to cancer patients in San Francisco. Simultaneously, six states conducted studies comparing smoked marijuana to oral THC in cancer patients who had not responded to traditional antivomiting medication. These state-sponsored studies revealed that thousands of patients found marijuana safer and more effective than synthetic THC. Meanwhile, the NCI experiments

showed that some patients responded well to Marinol... Confronted with two different medical recommendations, the government chose to dismiss the state studies and give Marinol the green light." 

1990 - Scientists Discover Cannabinoid Receptors Miles Herkenham, Senior Investigator at the National Institute of Mental Health, and his research team discover the cannabinoid receptor system in 1990. The discovery helps scientists understand the pharmacological effects of cannabinoids, which occur when the THC in marijuana binds with the cannabinoid receptors in the brain.

Nov. 5, 1996 - California Becomes First State to Legalize Medical Marijuana 

"Voters in California [pass] a state medical marijuana initiative in 1996. Known as Proposition 215  (45 KB), it permits patients and their primary caregivers, with a physician' s recommendation, to possess and cultivate marijuana for the treatment of AIDS, cancer, muscular spasticity, migraines, and several other disorders; it also protects them from punishment if they recommend marijuana to their patients." 
 

Nov. 3, 1998 - Alaska, Oregon, and Washington Become 2nd, 3rd, and 4th States to Legalize Medical Marijuana


"Fifty-eight percent of voters [in Alaska] approved Ballot Measure #8 on November 3, 1998. The law took effect on March 4, 1999. It removes state-level criminal penalties on the use, possession and cultivation of marijuana by patients who possess written documentation from their physician advising that they 'might benefit from the medical use of

marijuana...' Fifty-five percent of voters [in Oregon] approved Measure 67 on November 3, 1998. The law took effect on December 3, 1998. It removes state-level criminal penalties on the use, possession and cultivation of marijuana by patients who possess a signed recommendation from their physician stating that marijuana "may mitigate" his or her debilitating symptoms... Fifty-nine percent of voters [in Washington] approved Measure 692 on November 3, 1998. The law took effect on that day. It removes state-level criminal penalties on the use, possession and cultivation of marijuana by patients who possess 'valid documentation" from their physician affirming that he or she suffers from a debilitating condition and that the "potential benefits of the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the health risks.'"

On June 21, 2006, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted to support access to medical marijuana for people who have a doctor's recommendation. 

"This resolution declares support for the medicinal use of cannabis sativa (also known as marijuana), and directs the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to actively urge the Federal government to amend and adopt such laws as will allow the benefits of marijuana treatment for such diseases as cancer, AIDS, and muscular dystrophy."

The US Department of Veterans Affairs releases a Veterans Health Administration (VHA) directive on July 22, 2010 saying that veterans who participate in legal state medical marijuana programs will

no longer be disqualified from "substance abuse programs, pain control programs, or other clinical programs." 

In 2012, voters in Colorado, Washington State and Oregon had the opportunity to make history by voting on initiatives that would legalize the recreational use and sale of marijuana in their respective states. Only residents of Oregon rejected the move. 

In 2013, CNN medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta Comes out in Favor of Medical Marijuana

"I mistakenly believed the Drug Enforcement Agency listed marijuana as a schedule 1 substance because of sound scientific proof. Surely, they must have quality reasoning as to why marijuana is in the category of the most dangerous drugs that have 'no accepted medicinal use and a high potential for abuse.'

They didn't have the science to support that claim, and I now know that when it comes to marijuana neither of those things are true. It doesn't have a high potential for abuse, and there are very legitimate medical applications...

We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that."

In 2016, seven states in all legalized marijuana in some form on Election Day. California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada showed up to support recreational marijuana, while Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota passed ballot initiatives legalizing medical marijuana.

A recreational legalization proposal in Arizona brought the industry's only election loss.