Marijuana History

Marijuana History

Fun Fact: The Correct Term for Marijuana is Cannabis

When was Marijuana first used?

Marijuana dates back to times long ago. Supposedly, in A.D. 500, it was in Europe. Cannabis was used as a medication. Chinese emperor Shen Nung’s writings from 2737 B.C. mentioned cannabis use for rheumatism, malaria, and absent-mindedness. The Quran banned Muslims from consuming alcohol, so they used it everywhere in India. Muslims are responsible for hashish, which hit Iran and North Africa in the 12th century.

What about America?

Once upon a time in 1545, the Spanish brought cannabis to the New World. 1611 brought Jamestown which sprouted cannabis. The English used it as a major crop. Tobacco, of course, was also a major crop.

Fun Fact: Hemp is made out of a variety of the Cannabis Sativa plant species, grown specifically for its industrial use. It’s one of the fastest growing plants, and was among the first plants to be made into usable fiber 10,000 years ago. It can be made into many things including paper, textiles, clothing, biodegradable plastics, paint, insulation, biofuel, food, and animal feed.

In 1890 hemp was replaced by cotton, but some medicines contained cannabis. Around this time some were patented.

Fun Fact: The majority of patented medicines contained cocaine or opium.

1920’s rolled in cannabis, but some say this was because of prohibition. The center of Jazz was led by “Reefer songs.” This included the majority of the recreational users of cannabis, which were Jazz musicians, or people in the show business. Cannabis clubs were seen in every city, known as tea pads. Cannabis was not illegal at the time, so the establishments were fine in the eyes of the law.

1850 to 1942 cannabis was listed in the United States Pharmacopeia, and was prescribed for many conditions. In the 1930’s, a campaign conducted by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Narcotics portrayed cannabis as a powerful, addictive substance that would lead users into other narcotic addiction. Even to this day it is considered the gateway drug by some. However, the Beat generation in the 1950s brought cannabis back.

Fun Fact: In the 1960s college students and hippies became a symbol of rebellion against authority by smoking large quantities of cannabis.


The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 classified cannabis, heroin, and LSD as a Schedule I drug, which labels it with the “highest abuse potential and no accepted medical use.” Cannabis at that time was coming from Mexico. In 1975 the Mexican government eradicated the crop by spraying it with an herbicide. This herbicide raised fears of toxic side effects, which led to Colombia becoming the main supplier for the U.S.

Fun Fact: Cannabis was legal when Ronald Reagan was a young boy.


Later in life, Reagan established a “zero tolerance” mindset which was a product of the Reagan and Bush administration. Strict laws and mandatory sentences were created for any possession of cannabis. This did, however, improve southern borders to help stop drug smuggling. The War on Drugs brought heavy reliance on domestic cultivation, specifically in Hawaii and California, instead of imported goods from Mexico and Columbia. In 1982, the Drug Enforcement Administration turned their attention to cannabis cultivation with the United States. This allowed for indoor growing of cannabis. This produced strains specially bred and developed for small size and high yield. After over a decade of decreasing use, cannabis smoking began an upward trend in the early 1990s. Since then, marijuana has been made legal for recreational use in 8 states, and for medicinal use in 21 states.