‘Smokers hearts’ by Gabriel Ferrier, 1887

Cannabis: A Journey Through the Ages

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The Spanish brought marijuana to the Americas in the mid-1500s and the English introduced it at Jamestown in 1611, where it became a popular commercial crop alongside tobacco. 

In 1799, Napoleon brought marijuana back to France from Egypt where it was investigated for its pain relieving and sedative qualities. 

Cannabis as medicine

Cannabis as medicine ( Wikimedia Commons )

Cannabis finally reached the United States at the beginning of the 20th century, arriving in the southwest from Mexico, as immigrants fled the country during the Mexican Revolution of 1910-1911.  Beginning in the early 1900's, a number of state and local laws in the United States began prohibiting the use of marijuana.  A federal law called the Marijuana Tax Act banned its use and sales in 1937.  Prior to 1937 in the United States (and 1928 in the United Kingdom), cannabis had enjoyed a 5,000 year run as a therapeutic plant with no history of illegality.

Today, the U.S. federal government classifies marijuana as a Schedule I control substance, alongside heroin, LSD and ecstasy.  In recent years, support for marijuana has increased on a national level in the U.S. with the legalization of medical marijuana in 32 states.  Some nations, such as the Netherlands have decriminalized marijuana possession in coffee shops.  In 2001, Portugal became the first European country to officially abolish criminal penalties for personal possession of drugs, including marijuana. In the last decade, a plethora of scientific research has emerged providing evidence for the medicinal benefits of consuming cannabis, confirming what ancient people already knew thousands of years ago.

Featured image: ‘Smokers hearts’ by Gabriel Ferrier, 1887 ( Wikimedia Commons )

By Bryan Hilliard

References

Blaszczak, By. "Marijuana's History: How One Plant Spread Through the World." LiveScience. October 17, 2014. Accessed May 16, 2015. http://www.livescience.com/48337-marijuana-history-how-cannabis-travelled-world.html.

Elliott, Steve. "Worth Repeating: Humans Discover Hemp, 10,000 B.C." Toke of the Town. July 19, 2011. Accessed May 16, 2015. http://www.tokeofthetown.com/2011/07/worth_repeating_humans_discover_hemp_10000_bc.php.

Frank, Mel. "Cannabis and Ancient History." Cannabis and Ancient History. 1978. Accessed May 16, 2015. http://www.walnet.org/rosebud/ancienthistory.html.

"The Tantra-Cannabis Connection- Origins and Implications." The Tantra-Cannabis Connection- Origins and Implications. Accessed May 16, 2015. http://real-gaia.angelfire.com/charas.html.

"Industrial Hemp Fibre." Accessed May 16, 2015. http://hashmuseum.com/industrial-hemp/industrial-hemp-fibre.

"Cannabis in Egypt." Sensi Seeds English Blog. December 27, 2013. Accessed May 16, 2015. http://sensiseeds.com/en/blog/cannabis-egypt/.

"Cannabis." Goddess Plan Pr Ntr Kmt. Accessed May 16, 2015. http://www.prntrkmt.org/herbs/cannabis.html.

Burnett, Malik. "How Did Marijuana Become Illegal in the First Place?" Drug Policy Alliance. October 9, 2014. Accessed May 16, 2015. http://www.drugpolicy.org/blog/how-did-marijuana-become-illegal-first-place.

"DEA / Drug Scheduling." DEA / Drug Scheduling. Accessed May 16, 2015. http://www.dea.gov/druginfo/ds.shtml.

Comments

Thank you for a relatively sober and -accurate cannabis article without all the newage crap that almost alway gets mixed in. And without the government paranoia as well. This is just a medicine plant like any other medicine plant, it is neither a monster nor a saint. But still, it is far more safe for consumption than alcohol, this is proved beyond any doubt in statistics: not a single case of death worldwide or history wide is caused or even attributed to the consumption of this plant.

One can't help wondering why on earth there was this apparent rage against the plant between WWI and WWII leading to prohibiting it in many countries. Documented safe and sound use for thirty thousand years, and then -- all of a sudden -- some influential people in very recent times get paranoid and ban the plant as well as the use of it?! A tongue-in-cheek theory: Did some people with cannabis intolerance also have the curiosity to try its effects? Did they have "a bad trip" with paranoia and anxiety and all (this sometimes happens to newbies, common knowledge) and did that experience scare them enough to ban the plant for everyone else? What is the explanation for that irrational ban anyway? It appears to me that this ban is founded in something that is not factual, not objective, and not science.

One of the BIG reasons the United States banned marijuana is because it threatened timber and paper industries which generate lots of revenue, hemp is a free growing resource which means no money for the government. Now back in the 30's, USA ill-legalized marijuana because the plant can benefit many people with its fibers and potential to be made into useful things (ie,. clothing, paper, food[seeds and oils]), and also because it "gets you high" or stoned with its psychoactive traits, they say that is bad, and promotes crime, that is not true with marijuana. The USA government/FDA is very greedy when it comes down to them losing a bit of revenue. From Canada, I say, nice article, thanks.

This article, while being quite enlightening and informative, does not make any reference to the difference between the agricultural grade hemp used for rope, bowstrings, clothing, fabric,paper and food, with that used for medicinal and hallucinogenic purposes. It is crucially important that this difference is clearly understood at a time when some far sighted people are seeking to re-introduce hemp as a useful crop, easy to grow, in poor soil , quick growing with minimal input. It was a major useful crop in the US during WWII. However there is much said against it because it is understood only as a drug,although you would have to smoke a whole field full to get even slightly merry.

Thank you, this helped me a lot. Marijuana and Hemp should be legalized again.

Cannabis is the most useful plant on the planet; food, clothing, shelter, energy, medicine, insight, , re-creation. It has been mankinds companion and helpmate since the beginning. Any law against it is a crime agains humanity , creation and the Creator

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