SHORT HISTORY OF CANNABIS
To younger generations, it might be surprising to learn that cannabis was not always illegal in their state. Regular use of Cannabis began as early as 1619. Restriction started from 1906 onward, with prohibition in the 1920s and regulation of cannabis as a drug in the mid 1930s (with 35 states adopting the Uniform State Narcotic Drug Act.
Some states in the 1970s abolished state laws or local regulations banning possession or sale of cannabis. Although during the Reagan Administration, the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 reinstated mandatory prison sentences (and a later amendment created a three-strike law).
In parallel, some effort to decriminalize cannabis for medical use was underway since the 1970s. Although some states have been advocating to decriminalize cannabis, the effort on the Federal level only took momentum since 2013.
- Jul 2015
- Nov 2014
Alaska and Oregon legalize marijuana / cannabisThe States of Alaska and Oregon legalize marijuana / cannabis for recreational use; the States of California, Nevada, Arizona, Hawaii and Massachusetts all begin to draft legalization legislation.
- Nov 2012
States of Colorado and Washington legalize marijuana / cannabisThe States of Colorado and Washington legalize marijuana / cannabis for recreational use; promises are made to the people that these new initiatives will have no impact on medical marijuana in those states. The US District of Columbia decriminalizes personal use and possession of marijuana / cannabis.
Steps toward ending the unsuccessful 20-year war on drugsPresident Obama made steps toward ending the very unsuccessful 20-year “war on drugs” initiated during the Regan administration by stating that individual drug use is really a public health issue, and should be treated as such. Under his guidance, the U.S. Justice Department announced that federal prosecutors will no longer pursue medical marijuana users and distributors who comply with state laws.
Intensification of war on drugsUnder President G.W. Bush the U.S. federal government intensified its “war on drugs” targeting both patients and doctors across the state of California.
Re-legalization of medical marijuanaCalifornia (the first U.S. state to ban marijuana use, see 1915) became the first U.S. State to then re-legalize medical marijuana use for people suffering from AIDS, cancer, and other serious illnesses. A similar bill was passed in Arizona the same year. This was followed by the passage of similar initiatives in Alaska, Colorado, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Washington D.C., Hawaii, Maryland, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
Closing of the Compassionate Use programIn reaction to a surge of requests from AIDS patients for medical marijuana, the U.S. government closes the Compassionate Use program. That same year the pharmaceutical medication dronabinol is approved for AIDS-wasting syndrome.
President Reagan signed the Anti-Drug Abuse ActPresident Reagan signed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, reinstating mandatory minimums and raising federal penalties for possession and distribution and officially begins the U.S. international “war on drugs.”
U.S. President Carter pushed for decriminalization of marijuanaU.S. President Carter, including his assistant for drug policy, Dr. Peter Bourne, pushed for decriminalization of marijuana, with the president himself asking Congress to abolish federal criminal penalties for those caught with less than one ounce of marijuana.
Creation of the Investigational New Drug IND Compassionate Use research programThe U.S. federal government created the Investigational New Drug (IND) Compassionate Use research program to allow patients to receive up to nine pounds of cannabis from the government each year. Today, five surviving patients still receive medical cannabis from the federal government, paid for by federal tax dollars. At the same time the U.S. FDA continues to list marijuana as Schedule I meaning: “A high potential for abuse with no accepted medical value.”
Shafer CommissionThe Nixon-appointed Shafer Commission urged use of cannabis to be re-legalized, but their recommendation was ignored. U.S. Medical research picks up pace. Proposition 19 in California to legalize marijuana use is rejected by a voter margin of 66-33%.
The NORML formsThe US National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) forms. That same year the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act repealed mandatory penalties for drug offenses, and marijuana was categorized separately from other narcotics.
Cannabis is removed from the U.S. PharmacopoeiaCannabis is removed from the U.S. Pharmacopoeia and it’s medicinal use is no longer recognized in America. The same year the Indian government considers cultivation in Kashmir to fill void of hashish from Chinese Turkestan. Hand-rubbed charas from Nepal is choicest hashish in India during World War II.
U.S. Congress passed the Marijuana Tax ActU.S. Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act which criminalized the drug. In response Dr. William C. Woodward, testifying on behalf of the AMA, told Congress that, “The American Medical Association knows of no evidence that marijuana is a dangerous drug” and warned that a prohibition “loses sight of the fact that future investigation may show that there are substantial medical uses for Cannabis.” His comments were ignored by Congress. A part of the testimony for Congress to pass the 1937 act derived from articles in newspapers owned by William Randolph Hearst, who had significant financial interests in the timber industry, which manufactured his newsprint paper.
End of the ProhibitionThe U.S. congress ratify the 21st Amendment, ending alcohol prohibition; 4 years later the prohibition of marijuana will be in full effect.
Beginning of the ProhibitionThe 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution banned the manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcohol and positioned marijuana as an attractive alternative leading to an increase in use of the substance.
Cannabis begins to be prohibited for non-medical useIn the U.S. cannabis begins to be prohibited for non-medical use. Prohibition first begins in California (1915), followed by Texas (1919), Louisiana (1924), and New York (1927).
Marijuana was widely used throughout United States as a medicinal drugMarijuana was widely used throughout the United States as a medicinal drug and could easily be purchased in pharmacies and general stores.
The U.S. PharmacopoeiaCannabis is added to The U.S. Pharmacopoeia.
Rabelais mentions marijuana's medicinal effectsFrench physician Rabelais’s gargantua and Pantagruel mentions marijuana’s medicinal effects.
Talmud mentions CannabisThe Jewish Talmud mentions the euphoriant properties of Cannabis.
Greek physician GalenGreek physician Galen prescribes medical marijuana.
- 2,737 BCE
First recorded use as medicineFirst recorded use of cannabis as medicine by Emperor Shen Neng of China.