Cannabis: A Journey Through the Ages
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 ( 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 )
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