The History of Cannabis

10,000 YEARS AGO


Ropes made of hemp (fibers made from the cannabis plant) were used to press the pottery. In the Pan-P'O Village in 4000 B.C., cannabis cultivation was very important. Cannabis was regarded among "five grains" and farmed as a major food crop. Other major roles are the production of textiles, rope, paper, and oil.

2737 B.C.


In Chinese medicinal textbook, The Pen Ts'ao, cannabis is considered a powerful medicinal herb. Emperor Shen-Nung recognized its treatment properties for over 100 ailments such as gout, rheumatism, and malaria.



Cannabis has its first taxonomic identification, given by Swedish botanist, zoologist, and physician, Carl Linnaeus. Linnaeus formalized binomial nomenclature, the modern system of naming organisms.



Irish doctor William O'Shaughnessy introduces the therapeutic benefits of cannabis to Western medicine. Concludes that it has no negative medicinal effects. As a result, cannabis rapidly rose in a pharmaceutical context.



Cannabis extract becomes a popular medicinal drug.



Mexican immigrants become associated with the smoked, recreational version of the drug, and anti-immigrant sentiments fuel cannabis prohibition.


Cannabis is banned in 24 states.



Congress passes the Marijuana Tax Act, which effectively bans cannabis except for a few medicinal purposes.



The Narcotics Control Act and Boggs Act stiffened penalties for cannabis possession, with first-time offenses requiring 2-10 year sentences and a minimum $20,000 fine.


Judicial Restructure

Congress passes the Controlled Substance Act (CSA), assigned cannabis a Schedule 1 drug. Other drugs in the Schedule 1 category include heroin, LSD, and peyote.


Criminalization Increased

President Ronald Reagan increases federal penalties for cannabis possession.



The first passage of medical marijuana takes place in California in 1996. Followed by the first passage of recreational state legalization in 2012 in Colorado and Washington.


Shifting Landscape

Cannabis is currently fully legal in 11 states. While 33 states allow some form of medicinal cannabis use, 2/3 of the American population supports overall federal legalization.

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