The History of Cannabis

Hemp is possibly one of the earliest plants to be cultivated. Cannabis has a history of human use going as far back as 8000BCE. More recently, access to medical marijuana has been at the confluence of political, scientific, and cultural transformation. Let’s dive into history.

  • Sciene & Health
  • Laws & Regulations
  • Pop Culture
  1. The Philadelphia Horticultural Society features the first cannabis exhibit since its establishment in 1829, at the 2020 Philadelphia Flower Show.
  2. Illinois legalizes recreational use of cannabis
  3. 2/3 of Americans say cannabis should be legal.
  4. Michigan and Vermont legalize recreational use of cannabis.
  5. 37 people in the US have died after vaping black-market nicotine and/or THC, giving rise to FDA approved safe options.
  6. California legalizes recreational use of cannabis.
  7. Northern Mariana Islands, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Utah pass medical cannabis laws.
  8. West Virginia passes medical cannabis laws.
  9. Massachusetts legalizes recreational use of cannabis.
  10. American Legion calls for the removal of cannabis from list of Schedule I drugs.
  11. DNC delegates approve a party platform calling for the removal of cannabis from list of Schedule I drugs.
  12. Arkansas, Florida, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, and Ohio pass medical cannabis laws.
  13. DEA intends to issue licences for cultivation of research-grade cannabis.
  14. Laws are made to favor low-THC, high-CBD in commercialized cannabis.
  15. Puerto Rico passesmedical cannabis laws.
  16. Comedy Central’s Broad City features smoking cannabis as a normal act in New York.
  17. Maryland, Minnesota, New York, and Guam pass medical cannabis laws.
  18. Alaska and Oregon legalize recreational use of cannabis.
  19. New Hampshire and Illinois pass medical cannabis laws.
  20. HBO’s High Maintenance TV show features cannabis often without commenting on it.
  21. Massachusetts and Connecticut pass medical cannabis laws.
  22. Colorado and Washington legalize recreational cannabis use.
  23. Delaware passes medical cannabis laws.
  24. After using CBD oil, 6-year-old, Charlotte Figi’s seizure frequency decreased from 300 per month to 2 or 3 per month.
  25. Arizona and New Jersey pass medical cannabis laws.
  26. President Obama declares the end of the federal prosecution of medical marijuana users, ending the “War on Drugs”.
  27. Michigan passes medical cannabis laws.
  28. New Mexico passes medical cannabis laws.
  29. Rhode Island passes medical cannabis laws.
  30. Afroman’s Because I Got High sarcastically addresses his recreational use.
  31. Canada begins systematically regulating medicinal cannabis.
  32. Colorado, Nevada, and Hawaii pass medical cannabis laws.
  33. Maine passes medical cannabis laws.
  34. The Big Lebowski is released in theaters.
  35. Alaska, Washington and Oregon pass medical cannabis laws.
  36. The Institute of Medicine concludes that cannabis is safe and therapeutic. It is ignored by the government.
  37. President Clinton started arresting medical cannabis patients continuing the “War on Drugs.”
  38. Compassionate Use Act of 1996 allows medicinal marijuana for people with chronic illnesses in California.
  39. An openly administered clinical test on CBD reports healthy benefits.
  40. Judge Francis Young determines that marijuana should be a prescriptive drug. He is ignored.
  41. “Stoner-movie” dialogue is portrayed in Up in Smoke.
  42. President Carter pushes for decriminalization of marijuana
  43. Carl Sagan suggests the possibility that cannabis was the first crop, which may have led to the development of civilization.
  44. Cannabinoid-based medication, Nabilone, is created.
  45. President Nixon signs the Substances Act of 1970, banning even the medicinal use of marijuana, giving rise to the “War on Drugs.”
  46. Bob Dylan’s Rainy Day Woman #12 & 35 about getting stoned is largely banned across radio stations.
  47. A dramatic increase in cannabis is seen across young people in the US.
  48. Short film, Hemp for Victory, is created to promote hemp as a necessary crop to win WWII.
  49. America denies the medicinal use of cannabis as it is removed from the US Pharmacopoeia.
  50. The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 criminalizes marijuana in the US.
  51. American propaganda film, Reefer Madness, is created to scare people away from using cannabis.
  52. US lifts the ban on alcohol.
  53. Britain bans recreational use of cannabis which is still in effect today.
  54. Non-medical use of cannabis starts to become prohibited in the US.
  55. US enacts a constitutional ban on alcoholic beverages.
  56. From 1850 until 1915, marijuana can be easily purchased and used as a medicinal drug.
  57. People begin to fear marijuana, associating it with the Mexican immigrants recreational use, labeling it the “Mexican Menace.”
  58. Marijuana is added to US Pharmacopeia and treats opioid withdrawal, nasuea, and pain.
  59. It is determined that cannabis extracts could alleviate stomach pains and vomiting in people suffering from cholera.
  60. George Washington depended on slave labor to cultivate hemp.
  61. Arabian Folktales highlight hashish’s intoxicating and aphrodisiac properties.
  62. A rise of hashish in the Middle East is said to correlate with the spread of Islam.
  63. Cannabis is used by the Arabians to treat migraines, pain, and syphilis.
  64. Boiled roots of the plant are used to treat gout, arthritis, and generalized pain used by the Romans.
  65. Cannabis is used ritually and recreationally by the Scythians.
  66. Cannabis is first used medicinally.

The State of Cannabis Today

While cannabis remains federally illegal (and things are changing rapidly there too), 36 states have allowed some form of medical use, and 17 states plus DC allow adult recreational use.

Medically Legal

In the 36 states that have allowed medical use, cannabis is legal with a doctor's recommendation and a medical marijuana card, and when used to treat a particular approved condition. Twelve other states have laws that limit THC content, for the purpose of allowing consumers to have access to products that are rich in cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive component of cannabis.

Recreational Adult Use

Recreational use of cannabis is legal in 17 states and DC. This means, in these states, adults over 21 can purchase and consume cannabis for personal use without needing a medical card or a doctor's recommendation. There are also 13 states with some form of decriminalization, where cannabis still remains illegal but with reduced penalties or refusal to arrest.

Here in PA, cannabis became medically legal in 2018, to provide long-overdue medical relief to patients with one of several specific medical conditions. And negotiations are actively ongoing in the state legislature to move toward full recreational adult use in the state.