The History of Cannabis

10,000 YEARS AGO

Taiwan

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.

China

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.

1735

Sweden

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.

1798

Ireland/America

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.

1800s

America

Cannabis extract becomes a popular medicinal drug.

1920s

Mexico/America

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

Prohibition

Cannabis is banned in 24 states.

1937

Legislation

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

1950s

Criminalization

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.

1970s

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.

1980s

Criminalization Increased

President Ronald Reagan increases federal penalties for cannabis possession.

1990s

Legalization

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.

2020

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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