Marijuana has been used for thousands of years by many different cultures, the uses range from spiritual to medicinal and in some cultures it is revered as wonder plant. The following timeline was put together by Solutions Recovery to show a brief history of how marijuana views have changed over the last 600 or so years. Whatever your thoughts on marijuana, it’s hard to deny the impact it has had in American culture and history.
1492: Marijuana Comes to the New World
In 1492, Christopher Columbus brought Cannibis Sativa to America. Columbus carried hemp seed on his fleet for use in case of shipwreck to grow crops for raw materials and for use as a food source. The ships in his armada used hemp for sails, ropes, storage bags and clothing.
1619: Farmers in America Required to Grow Hemp
The French and British grew hemp in the colonies of Port Royal, Virginia and Plymouth. In 1619 a law was passed in Jamestown, Virginia Colony, which required farmers to grow hemp. Marijuana also became a major trade item between Central and South Asia during this time.
1791: Presidential Marijuana
At Mount Vernon, George Washington grew hemp as his primary crop in 1797 and sets duties on Cannabis to encourage domestic industry. Thomas Jefferson grew hemp as a secondary crop at Monticello. Jefferson calls Cannabis “a necessity” and urges farmers to grow Cannabis instead of tobacco.
1798: Napoleon Bans Hemp
Napoleon declared a total prohibition of hemp after realizing much of the Egyptian lower class were habitual smokers of marijuana. In 1807, Napoleon signs the Treaty of Tilset with Czar Alexander of Russia which cuts off all legal Russian trade with Britain. Britain blackmails and press gangs American sailors into illegally trading in Russian Hemp. Napoleon invades Russia aiming to put an end to Britain’s main supply of Cannabis. By the end of the year the harsh Russian winter and army had destroyed most of Napolean’s invading force.
1840: Medical Cannabis Sold in the U.S.
Medicines with a cannabis base were available in U.S. pharmacies. Hashish was available in Persian pharmacies. Dr. W.B. O’Shaunghnessy of Scotland works in India then introduces Cannabis to Western medicine. In the following 50 years hundreds of medical papers are written on the medical benefits of Cannabis.
1857: Whatever ails you
Smith Brothers of Edinburgh start to market a highly active extract of Cannabis Indica used as a basis for innumerable tinctures. The cough drops very popular and the formula is the first introduction of marijuana in a commercial product sold in the United States.
1876: U.S. Receives the Gift of Marijuana
The Sultan of Turkey gave hashish to the United States as a gift for it’s centennial. By 1880, Turkish hashish smoking parlors were opened all over the northeastern U.S. and became a popular fad among the upper class and well to do.
1890: A Royal Pain
Queen Victoria’s personal physician, Sir Russell Reynolds, prescribes Marijuana for the Queen’s menstrual cramps. He claims in the first issue of The Lancet, that Cannabis “When pure and administered carefully, is one of the of the most valuable medicines we possess”. Medical Marijuana is at it’s peak after the news got out.
1895: Viva Marijuana?
The Drug Commission concludes that cannabis has some medical uses, no addictive properties and a number of positive emotional and social benefits. First known use of the word ‘marijuana’ for smoking, by Pancho Villa’s supporters in Sonora Mexico. The song “La Curaracha” tells the story of one of Villa’s men looking for his stash of “marijuana por fumar”.
Stay tuned for part 2 of “A History of Marijuana”
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