The incredible journey of the hemp plant (Cannabis genus) begins over 8,000 years ago at the dawn of human civilization. It is believed to have originated high in the Mountains of Kush Ithiopia), where the early inhabitants discovered its’ potent qualities. For thousands of years the hemp plant was used as a source of fiber for textiles, a food source, and a basis for many medicines. Most early clothing was made of Hemp fiber, which is widely revered for its exceptional durability and mold-resistant qualities.
From the early days of ocean voyages in the 5th century B.C. until the late 19th Century and the dawn of the steam engine, most ships’ canvas sails and shipping ropes were made of hemp fiber. In fact the English word ‘canvas’ is thought to derive from the Greek word for hemp (Cannabis).
Traditional Parts Used: Mature Flowering Tops, Leaves, Oil, Roots, Seeds, Stalks and Stems.
Hemp has a very long history in herbal healing, dating back to ancient Aethiopian (Ithiopia), where it was used to treat inflammation of the eye. It was also used in traditional Indian and Chinese medicine for congestion, rheumatism, malaria and constipation and as a local anesthetic. In the 19th century, Hemp was commonly used as a painkiller, particularly for menstrual pain and cramps.
In Jamaica Hemp is traditionally used to treat colds, flu, asthma, and stomach problems and to improve eyesight. Oil or alcohol based extracts and infusions are used in many traditional herbal remedies. Hemp is often soaked in rum with ginger, garlic and pimento and used to treat diarrhea and for the relief of joint pains. In Ghana, Hemp is used to relieve pain, as a local anesthetic and in aphrodisiac concoctions.
Modern Research & Uses
There have been numerous studies of Hemp, many of which have focused on the recreational use of the plant in relation to its legal status and effects on the health of users. There has also been research on the medicinal properties of Hemp and the possible uses of the herb to treat a variety of health conditions.
Research in Jamaica has confirmed that Hemp is effective in treating eye conditions, in particular glaucoma and an extract of Hemp (Cannasol) is commercially available to treat glaucoma. Another drug, Asmasol has been patented for the treatment of asthma. One study has indicated that Hemp has hypoglycemic activity, but that this activity is short-lived.
Hemp’s traditional use as a pain reliever has been confirmed by recent research, which shows that it can be as effective as codeine. It is also reported to have sedative, anti-inflammatory and anti-emetic properties, making it effective for nausea, especially for people receiving chemotherapy. Hemp is today being used with good results in relieving the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, treating people with spinal cord injuries, for loss of appetite and to aid weight loss.
Hemp contains a number of alkaloids among them over 60 cannabinoids, with the main activity from tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The strength of the THC as well as other constituents in Hemp varies according to climate, soil and other conditions. Hemp is the only plant that contains THC. The seed oil contains 55% linoleic acid, 20% alpha-linoleic acid and 1.5% gamma-linolenic acid. Hemp also contains terpenes, sesquiterpenes, cholin and trigonelline.
The dried leaves and flowering tops of the female plant are smoked recreationally in many countries. Some Ras Tafari people regard Hemp as a sacred herb with the power to improve meditation and understanding. Some studies have however reported that regular, long-term use can lead to psychiatric, psychological and neurological problems.
There has been increasing production of Hemp in many countries as a viable economic crop with a wide variety of uses and application. Hemp seed is rich in omega oils and many other essential nutrients. Bio-industries in countries like Switzerland have developed a number of health, clothing, beauty and medicinal products from hemp for export and local consumption.
Here are some other noteworthy facts about Hemp that may astonish and enchant you:
• The oldest relic of human industry is a bit of hemp fabric dating back to approximately 8,000 BC. It was found in Ithiopia, India and Mesopotamia and was mentioned in Assyrian scripts.
• For over 5,000 years, hemp was considered the world’s most important textile, and even in China, where silk production was flourishing, hemp was relied on because it was cheaper than silk and was a strong fiber for clothing.
• Unlike cotton and other fibers, Hemp requires no pesticides, grows almost anywhere on marginal soil, prevents soil erosion and can be grown on the same land year after year.
• Christopher 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.
• US past presidents Thomas Jefferson and George Washington were both active hemp farmers.
• The first hemp laws in America were passed in 1619 and they were ‘must grow’ laws. If you were a farmer living in America and you didn’t grow hemp, you would be jailed or kicked out of the country as a non patriot.
• Cannabis hemp was legal tender (money) in most of America from 1631 until the early 1800s.
• The war between North America and Great Britain in 1812 was fought mainly over access to Russian hemp.
• More than 120,000 pounds of hemp fiber was needed to rig the 44-gun USS Constitution, America’s oldest Navy ship affectionately called “Old Ironsides.”
• Where did all of that hemp fiber come from? It came from the cannabis sativa fields of patriotic Revolutionary War-era farmers who originally grew the fibrous crop for the British Crown. Strong fibers formed strong nations in the pre-industrial age, and hemp was strategically important during the Revolutionary War.
• Benjamin Franklin started one of the first paper mills with cannabis hemp thus freeing US from dependence on paper or books from England.
• British colonies was compelled by law to grow hemp
• Until Hemp was made illegal in the United States in 1937, it was used in 80% of all medicines.
• Hemp was not banned in the U.S. because of its’ narcotic qualities, but because it threatened the timbre, paper, oil and plastics industries. In fact, Henry Ford originally designed the Model T to run on hemp oil, but was prevented from doing so because of powerful corporate interests.
• The Ancient Hebrews used Holy anointing oil made of hemp seed to anoint all priests, Kings and Prophets, and it is listed as an incense tree in the original Hebrew and Aramaic texts of the Old Testament.
• Sythians, an ancient Greek civilization, used hemp seed oil to cleanse and purify themselves.
• Hemp was widely cultivated in Ancient Ithiopia/Africa, where indigenous people used it to restore appetite and relieve the pain of hemorrhoids. It was also used as an antiseptic.
Approximately 44% of the weight of hempseed is edible oils, containing about 80% essential fatty acids (EFAs); e.g., linoleic acid, omega-6 (LA, 55%), alpha-linolenic acid,omega-3 (ALA, 22%), in addition to gamma-linolenic acid, omega-6 (GLA, 1–4%) and stearidonic acid, omega-3 (SDA, 0–2%). Proteins (including edestin) are the other major component (33%). Hempseed’s amino acid profile is close to “complete” when compared to more common sources of proteins such as meat, milk, eggs and soy. Hemp protein contains all 21 known amino acids, including the 9 essential ones adult bodies cannot produce. Proteins are considered complete when they contain all the essential amino acids in sufficient quantities and ratios to meet the body’s needs. The proportions of linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid in one tablespoon (15 ml) per day of hemp oil easily provides human daily requirements for EFAs.
Cannabis, family Cannabaceae; species: Cannabis indica, Cannabis ruderalia, and Cannabis sativa L., has been found on every continent, it was used long before its first recorded uses. It’s safe to believe, that no historian knows which peoples were first to experience her treasures.
In every society where people discovered Cannabis hemp, they often discovered the five uses for hemp, which include; hempen fibers, oil from the seeds, the seeds for food, a medicine, and for its narcotic properties. Cannabis use has existed for over ten thousand years, and is one of the oldest crops used for cultivation.
In Ithiopia/Africa hemp was used for dysentery, and fevers, today some Africans use hemp to treat snakebites, and women smoke it before childbirth. During the seventeenth century peasants believed in the magical power of hemp, and practiced their traditions. On Saint John’s Eve, farmers would pick flowers from their hemp plants and feed them to their livestock to protect the animals from evil and sickness.
Hemp was cultivated in China as early as 4000 BC. Most cultures viewed hemp as a gift, or treasure, from the Divine Sprit, to be used during ceremonials, at which time it was either burned as incense, ingested for deep meditative and heighten awareness, smoked for pleasure, or worn for clothing during these ceremonies. Hemp has been mentioned in many important documents over its recorded history, The Zend-Avesta, a sacred book used by the peoples of India dating back to 600 BC, spoke of hemp’s intoxicating resin. The Chinese emperor and herbalist, Chen-Nung wrote about hemp’s medicinal uses 5000 years ago, his pharmacoepia recorded its effects on malaria, female disorders, and many other illnesses, hemp was referred to as, Ma-fen “hemp fruit”, said; “if taken in excess, will produce hallucinations”. The Anatomy of Melancholy, published in 1621 recommended hemp for depression. The New English Dispensatory, of 1764 suggested applying hemp roots to the skin for inflammation.
A western physician by the name of W.B. O’Shaughnessey published in 1839 of the benefits of cannabis for the treatment of rabies, rheumatism, epilepsy, and tetanus. He also reported that a tincture of hemp and alcohol taken orally was found an effective analgesic.
Henry VIII required the cultivation of one quarter acre of hemp for every sixty acres of land under tillage, for maritime purposes in England.
The British began cultivating hemp in its Canadian colonies in 1606, cultivation began for Virginia in 1611. The Pilgrims introduced cultivation to New England as early as 1632, they learned about the cultivation of hemp from the Native Americans people.
Hemp Equals Freedom In The New World
Hemp was already in the new world when the first European colonist arrived, thought to have been introduced from China by explorers, migrating birds from across the Bering Strait, or possibly drifting shipwrecks.
It is reported that the colonist were not eager to grow hemp, however the European motherland wanted hemp, and cultivation was deemed mandatory. The Puritans at Jamestown grew hemp, as part of their contract with the Virginia Company. Jean Talon at the order of France Quebec colony minister confiscated all thread the colonist possessed and forced them to buy it back from him with hemp. Talon supplied the seeds to farmers, which had to be reimbursed after hemp crops were harvested. Mandatory cultivation of hemp continued throughout the New World, the General Court in 1637 at Hartford Connecticut, and the Massachusetts courts in 1639 ordered all families to plant one teaspoon of hemp seed. “that we might in time have supply of linen cloth among ourselves.” Several colonies passed legal tender laws; hemp was so valued it was used to pay taxes.
Until 1776 many colonies passed laws to encourage farmers to produce hemp, Virginia designed laws to compel farmers, fining those who did not comply. Lobbyist were hired to promote, and education the public about the importance of hemp. Books were published that wanted to establish hemp as America’s trademark product.
Colonies under the crown, were banned from spinning and weaving hemp, this fostered dependence to England, which was demanding raw materials from the colonies as a way to increase its labor forces. The exported fibers were then bought back as finished products from England. As the market was flooded with hemp, immigrant weavers from Ireland arrived in Massachusetts, setting up shop and passing their skills to the peasantry. What may have seemed a small movement grew into self-sufficiency from the British Crown, to the extent of a boycott of English fabric products. These were some of the conditions, which lead into the War of Independence from the British. The American paper industry was born of hemp, linen, and cotton rags, which provided writing materials throughout the war, essential for communication.
In 1777, Edward Antil wrote in his introduction of Observations on the Raising and Dressing of Hemp, “hemp is one of the most profitable productions the earth furnishes in northern climates; as it employs a great number of poor people in a very advantageous manner, if its manufacture is carried on properly: It … becomes worthy of the serious attention … of every trading man, who truly loves his country.”
The Importance Of Hemp And The War Efforts
In preparation of war, mandatory cultivation laws were passed, and colonist increased their production of hemp, for paper and clothes. Colonists were convinced to take up arms, as they read pamphlets published on hemp paper. Thomas Paine in 1776 encouraged colonist to fight for freedom with Common Sense he writes “in almost every article of defense we abound. Hemp flourishes even to rankness, so that we need not want cordage.”
The founding fathers of the post constitution United States, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were both promoters of hemp, as noted in their farm diaries spoke of their experiences as hemp farmers. Throughout Washington’s farm diary he spoke about the quality of seeds, always taking care to sow seeds in best areas on his farm. He documented the importance’s of cultivating seeds at the proper time taking care to pull the male plants from the females. In 1790’s Washington began cultivating “Indian hemp” which he said produced the best quality of plant, and noted its superior quality to common hemp mostly grown during that time. Both Washington and Jefferson disliked tobacco, and on occasion they would exchange gifts of a smoking mixtures, Washington reportedly enjoyed smoking hemp flowers, however there is no hard evidence.
Jefferson was also a promoter of hemp, and during his tenure as Governor of Virginia he kept reserves of hemp, and in May of 1781 used hemp as currency when money from the government was in short supply.
Jefferson believed hemp to be a superior crop to tobacco, which he said exhausted the soil, used to much manure, provided no nourishment for cattle. Hemp on the other hand “was of the first necessity to commerce and marine, in other words to the wealth and protection of the country.” Around 1815 Jefferson received the first US patent for his hemp-breaking machine, which reportedly did the work of ten men.
Kentucky was a large supplier of hemp, primarily because the soil would not sustain a grain crop. In 1792 its legislature levied a tax of twenty dollars per ton on imported hemp, this worked to Kentucky’s advantage and by 1850 domestic hemp crops increased and the amount of imported hemp dramatically decreased.
Hemp Production In The 19th & 20th Centuries
The belief that hemp was one of the most important crops to the common wealth, continued throughout the 19th century. As production increased, more states like Illinois, California, and Nebraska began to grow hemp, with more domestic hemp available, creative ideas for hemp use increased. In 1841, Congress ordered the Navy to buy domestic hemp, and in 1843 they appropriated fifty thousand dollars to purchase American hemp.
Hemp Production was a hard and tedious process, its production was always relegated to the slaves in this countries. After the Civil War when labor was no longer free, there was a great decline in the domestic cultivation of hemp. In 1861 G.F. Schaffer of New York patented the Hemp Dresser, used to prepare hemp for manufacturing. After Schaffer invention, many improvements to his machine followed.
By the early 20th century, industrialization, lead to inventions, of machines that would do the work of many, this was caused by the abolition of slavery. One of the most important inventions to the hemp industry was the Decorticator machine, it was hailed as the invention to revolutionize the hemp industry. In an article from Popular Mechanics magazine dated February 1938 spoke of hemp as a cash crop soon to be worth a billion dollars. [See the Popular Mechanics article “New Billion Dollar Crop.”]
Unfortunately its praises came one year too late, the passage of the Marihuana Tax Act HR 6385 was enacted, and this required a $100 transfer tax on the sale of Hemp. The issue for those in opposition of this tax related to the underhanded manner in which this tax was enacted. Those thought to gain the most were Hearst who owned large timber holdings, which feed the paper industry. DuPont who dominated the petrochemical market, which manufactured plastics, paints, and other products of fossil fuels and the Secretary of the Treasury and owner of Gulf oil Andrew Mellon who pushed legislation through congress giving tax breaks to oil companies. The Conspiracy was against hemp, it threaten certain vested financial and industrial interest especially those in the paper and petrochemical industries.
Through the Hearst newspaper chains racist propaganda messages were abound, it was Hearst that coined the phase “Marihuana Madness” this was related to Mexicans, African Americans, and jazz musicians, use of marihuana said to caused excessive sex, and violence, and threatened the safety of white women and children. Following this campaign against hemp it was not long before the complete prohibition of hemp was enacted.
Yet, hemp is no longer purposefully grown in the U.S. in any significant amount. The forgotten history of this lowly “ditch weed” – now hugely important as a food for migratory birds – reveals that hemp was an important crop from Colonial times through World War II, when it was last widely planted across the country for the war effort.
Hemp arrived in Colonial America with the Puritans in the form of seed for planting and as fiber in the lines, sails and caulking of the Mayflower. British sailing vessels were never without a store of hemp seed, and Britain’s colonies were compelled by law to grow hemp.
Hemp was the fiber of choice for maritime uses because of its natural decay resistance and its adaptability to cultivation. Each warship and merchant vessel required miles of hempen line and tons of hempen canvas, which meant the Crown’s hunger for the commodity was great. Ship captains were ordered to disseminate hemp seed widely to provide fiber wherever repairs might be needed in distant lands.
10,000-year History of Marijuana use in the World
8,000+ BCE Use of hemp cord in pottery identified at ancient village site dating back over 10,000 years, located in the area of modern day Taiwan. Finding hemp use and cultivation in this date range puts it as one of the first and oldest known human agriculture crops. As explained by Richard Hamilton in the 2009 Scientific American article on sustainable agriculture “Modern humans emerged some 250,000 years ago, yet agriculture is a fairly recent invention, only about 10,000 years old … Agriculture is not natural; it is a human invention. It is also the basis of modern civilization.” This point was also touched on by Carl Sagan in 1977 when he proposed the possibility that marijuana may have actually been world’s first agricultural crop, leading to the development of civilization itself (see 1977, below).
6,000 BCE Cannabis seeds and oil used for food in China.
4,000 BCE Textiles made of hemp are used in China and Turkestan.
2,737 BCE First recorded use of cannabis as medicine by Emperor Shen Neng of China.
2,000-800 BCE Bhang (dried cannabis leaves, seeds and stems) is mentioned in the Hindu sacred text Atharvaveda (Science of Charms) as “Sacred Grass”, one of the five sacred plants of India. It is used by medicinally and ritually as an offering to Shiva.
1,500 BCE Cannabis cultivated in China for food and fiber. Scythians cultivate cannabis and use it to weave fine hemp cloth.
700-600 BCE The Zoroastrian Zendavesta, an ancient Persian religious text of several hundred volumes refers to bhang as the “good narcotic.”
600 BCE Hemp rope appears in southern Russia.
700-300 BCE Scythian tribes leave Cannabis seeds as offerings in royal tombs.
500 BCE Scythian couple die and are buried with two small tents covering containers for burning incense. Attached to one tent stick was a decorated leather pouch containing wild Cannabis seeds. This closely matches the stories told by Herodotus. The gravesite, discovered in the late 1940s, was in Pazryk, northwest of the Tien Shan Mountains in modern-day Khazakstan. Hemp is introduced into Northern Europe by the Scythians. An urn containing leaves and seeds of the Cannabis plant, unearthed near Berlin, is found and dated to about this time. Use of hemp products spread throughout northern Europe.
430 BCE Herodotus reports on both ritual and recreation use of Cannabis by the Scythians (Herodotus The Histories 430 B.C. trans. G. Rawlinson).
200 BCE Hemp rope appears in Greece. Chinese Book of Rites mentions hemp fabric.
100 BCE First evidence of hemp paper, invented in China.
100-0 BCE The psychotropic properties of Cannabis are mentioned in the newly compiled herbal Pen Ts’ao Ching.
0-100 CE Construction of Samaritan gold and glass paste stash box for storing hashish, coriander, or salt, buried in Siberian tomb.
23-79 Pliny the Elder’s The Natural History mentions hemp rope and marijuana’s analgesic effects.
47-127 Plutarch mentions Thracians using cannabis as an intoxicant.
70 Dioscorides, a physician in Nero’s army, lists medical marijuana in his Pharmacopoeia.
100 Imported hemp rope appears in England.
105 Legend suggests that Ts’ai Lun invents hemp paper in China, 200 years after its actual appearance (see 100 BCE above).
130-200 Greek physician Galen prescribes medical marijuana.
200 First pharmacopoeia of the East lists medical marijuana. Chinese surgeon Hua T’o uses marijuana as an anesthetic.
300 A young woman in Jerusalem receives medical marijuana during childbirth.
570 The French queen Arnegunde is buried with hemp cloth.
500-600 The Jewish Talmud mentions the euphoriant properties of Cannabis.
850 Vikings take hemp rope and seeds to Iceland.
900 Arabs learn techniques for making hemp paper.
900-1000 Scholars debate the pros and cons of eating hashish. Use spreads throughout Arabia.
1000 Hemp ropes appear on Italian ships. Arabic physician Ibn Wahshiyah’s On Poisons warns of marijuana’s potential dangers.
1090-1124 In Khorasan, Persia, Hasan ibn al-Sabbah, recruits followers to commit assassinations…legends develop around their supposed use of hashish. These legends are some of the earliest written tales of the discovery of the inebriating powers of Cannabis and the use of Hashish by a paramilitary organization as a hypnotic (see U.S. military use, 1942 below). Early 12th Century Hashish smoking becomes very popular throughout the Middle East.
1155-1221 Persian legend of the Sufi master Sheik Haydar’s personal discovery of Cannabis and his own alleged invention of hashish with it’s subsequent spread to Iraq, Bahrain, Egypt and Syria. Another of the ealiest written narratives of the use of Cannabis as an inebriant.
1171-1341 During the Ayyubid dynasty of Egypt, Cannabis is introduced by mystic devotees from Syria.
1200 1,001 Nights, an Arabian collection of tales, describes hashish’s intoxicating and aphrodisiac properties.
13th Century The oldest monograph on hashish, Zahr al-‘arish fi tahrim al-hashish, was written. It has since been lost. Ibn al-Baytar of Spain provides a description of the psychoactive nature of Cannabis. Arab traders bring Cannabis to the Mozambique coast of Africa.
1271-1295 Journeys of Marco Polo in which he gives second-hand reports of the story of Hasan ibn al-Sabbah and his “assassins” using hashish. First time reports of Cannabis have been brought to the attention of Europe.
1300 Ethiopian pipes containing marijuana suggest the herb has spread from Egypt to the rest of Africa.
1378 Ottoman Emir Soudoun Scheikhouni issues one of the first edicts against the eating of hashish.
1526 Babur Nama, first emperor and founder of Mughal Empire learned of hashish in Afghanistan.
1532 French physician Rabelais’s gargantua and Pantagruel mentions marijuana’s medicinal effects.
1533 King Henry VIII fines farmers if they do not raise hemp for industrial use.
1549 Angolan slaves brought cannabis with them to the sugar plantations of northeastern Brazil. They were permitted to plant their cannabis between rows of cane, and to smoke it between harvests.
c. 1550 The epic poem, Benk u Bode, by the poet Mohammed Ebn Soleiman Foruli of Baghdad, deals allegorically with a dialectical battle between wine and hashish.
1563 Portuguese physician Garcia da Orta reports on marijuana’s medicinal effects.
1578 China’s Li Shih-Chen writes of the antibiotic and antiemetic effects of marijuana.
1600 England begins to import hemp from Russia.
1606-1632 French and British cultivate Cannabis for hemp at their colonies in Port Royal (1606), Virginia (1611), and Plymouth (1632).
1616 Jamestown settlers began growing the hemp plant for its unusually strong fiber and used it to make rope, sails, and clothing.
1621 Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy suggests marijuana may treat depression.
1600-1700 Use of hashish, alcohol, and opium spreads among the population of occupied Constantinople. Hashish becomes a major trade item between Central Asia and South Asia.
1753 Linnaeus classifies Cannabis sativa.
1764 Medical marijuana appears in The New England Dispensatory.
1776 Kentucky begins growing hemp.
1794 Medical marijuana appears in The Edinburgh New Dispensary.
1798 Napoleon discovers that much of the Egyptian lower class habitually uses hashish. Soldiers returning to France bring the tradition with them, and he declares a total prohibition.
1800- Marijuana plantations flourished in Mississippi, Georgia, California, South Carolina, Nebraska, New York, and Kentucky. Also during this period, smoking hashish was popular throughout France and to a lesser degree in the US. Hashish production expands from Russian Turkestan into Yarkand in Chinese Turkestan.
1809 Antoine Sylvestre de Sacy, a leading Arabist, suggests a base etymology between the words “assassin” and “hashishin” — subsequent linguest study disproves his theory.
1840 In America, medicinal preparations with a Cannabis base are available. Hashish is available in Persian pharmacies.
1842 Irish physician O’Shaughnessy publishes cannabis research in English medical journals.
1843 French author Gautier publishes The Hashish Club.
1846 French physician Moreau publishes Hashish and Mental Illness
1850 Cannabis is added to The U.S. Pharmacopoeia.
1850-1915 Marijuana was widely used throughout United States as a medicinal drug and could easily be purchased in pharmacies and general stores.
1854 Whittier writes the first American work to mention cannabis as an intoxicant.
1856 British tax “ganja” and “charas” trade in India.
1857 American writer Ludlow publishes The Hasheesh Eater.
1858 French poet Baudelaire publishes On the Artificial Ideal.
1870-1880 First reports of hashish smoking on the Greek mainland.
1890 Greek Department of Interior prohibits importance, cultivation and use of hashish. Hashish is made illegal in Turkey. Sir J.R. Reynolds, chief physician to Queen Victoria, prescribes medical marijuana to her.
1893-1894 The India Hemp Drugs Commission Report is issued. 70,000 to 80,000 kg per year of hashish is legally imported into India from Central Asia.
1906 In the U.S. the Pure Food and Drug Act is passed, regulating the labeling of products containing Alcohol, Opiates, Cocaine, and Cannabis, among others.
Early 20th Century Hashish smoking remains very popular throughout the Middle East.
1910 The Mexican Revolution caused an influx of Mexican immigrants who introduced the habit of recreational use (instead of it’s generally medicinal use) into American society.
1914 The Harrison Act in the U.S. defined use of Marijuana (among other drugs) as a crime.
1916 United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) chief scientists Jason L. Merrill and Lyster H. Dewey created paper made from hemp pulp, which they concluded was “favorable in comparison with those used with pulp wood” in USDA Bulletin No. 404. From the book “The Emperor Wears No Clothes” by Jack Herer the USDA Bulletin N. 404 reported that one acre of hemp, in annual rotation over a 20-year period, would produce as much pulp for paper as 4.1 acres (17,000 m2) of trees being cut down over the same 20-year period. This process would use only 1/7 to 1/4 as much polluting sulfur-based acid chemicals to break down the glue-like lignin that binds the fibers of the pulp, or even none at all using soda ash. The problem of dioxin contamination of rivers is avoided in the hemp paper making process, which does not need to use chlorine bleach (as the wood pulp paper making process requires) but instead safely substitutes hydrogen peroxide in the bleaching process. … If the new (1916) hemp pulp paper process were legal today, it would soon replace about 70% of all wood pulp paper, including computer printout paper, corrugated boxes and paper bags. However, mass production of cheap news print from hemp had not developed in any country, and hemp was a relatively easy target because factories already had made large investments in equipment to handle cotton, wool, and linen, but there were relatively small investments in hemp production.
1915-1927 In the U.S. cannabis begins to be prohibited for nonmedical use. Prohibition first begins in California (1915), followed by Texas (1919), Louisiana (1924), and New York (1927).
1919 The 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.
1920s Greek dictator Ioannis Metaxas cracks down on hashish smoking. Hashish smuggled into Egypt from Greece, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, and Central Asia.
1924 Russian botanists classify another major strain of the plant, Cannabis ruderalis.
1926 Lebanese hashish production is prohibited.
1928 Recreational use of Cannabis is banned in Britain.
1930 The Yarkand region of Chinese Turkestan exports 91,471 kg of hashish legally into the Northwest Frontier and Punjab regions of India. Legal taxed imports of hashish continue into India from Central Asia.
1933 The U.S. congress repealed the 21st Amendment, ending alcohol prohibition; 4 years later the prohibition of marijuana will be in full effect.
1934-1935 Chinese government moves to end all Cannabis cultivation in Yarkand and charas traffic from Yarkand. Hashish production become illegal in Chinese Turkestan.
1936 The American propaganda film Reefer Madness was made to scare American youth away from using Cannabis.
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1937 U.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.
1938 Supply of hashish from Chinese Turkestan nearly ceases. The U.S. company DuPont patented the processes for creating plastics from coal and oil and a new process for creating paper from wood pulp.
1940s Greek hashish smoking tradition fades.
1941 Cannabis 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.
1942 U.S. scientists working at the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the CIA’s wartime predecessor, began to develop a chemical substance that could break down the psychological defenses of enemy spies and POWs. After testing several compounds, the OSS scientists selected a potent extract of marijuana as the best available “truth serum.” The cannabis concoction was given the code name TD, meaning Truth Drug. When injected into food or tobacco cigarettes, TD helped loosen the reserve of recalcitrant interrogation subjects.
1945 Legal hashish consumption continues in India. Hashish use in Greece flourishes again.
1951 The Boggs Act and the Narcotics Control Act in the U.S. increases all drug penalties and laid down mandatory sentences.
1960 Czech researchers confirm the antibiotic and analgesic effects of cannabis.
1963 Turkish police seize 2.5 tons of hashish.
1965 First reports of the strain Cannibis afghanica and was used for hashish production in northern Afghanistan.
1967 “Smash”, the first hashish oil appears. Red Lebanese reaches California.
1970-1972 Huge fields of Cannabis are cultivated for hashish production in Afghanistan. Afghani hashish varieties introduced to North America for sinsemilla production. Westerners bring metal sieve cloths to Afghanistan. Law enforcement efforts against hashish begin in Afghanistan.
1970 The 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.
1971 First evidence suggesting marijuana may help glaucoma patients.
1972 The Nixon-appointed Shafer Commission urged use of cannabis 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%.
1973 Nepal bans the Cannabis shops and charas (hand-rolled hash) export. Afghan government makes hashish production and sales illegal. Afghani harvest is pitifully small.
1975 Nabilone, a cannabinoid-based medication appears.
1976 The 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.”
1977 Carl Sagan proposes that marijuana may have been the world’s first agricultural crop, leading to the development of civilization itself: “It would be wryly interesting if in human history the cultivation of marijuana led generally to the invention of agriculture, and thereby to civilization.” Carl Sagan, The Dragons of Eden, Speculations on the Origin of Human Intelligence p 191 footnote.
1977-1981 U.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.
1980s Morocco becomes one of, if not the largest, hashish producing and exporting nations. “Border hashish” is produced in northwestern Pakistan along the Afghan border to avoid Soviet-Afghan war.
1985 Hashish is still produced by Muslims of Kashgar and Yarkland in Northwest China. In the U.S. the FDA approves dronabinol, a synthetic THC, for cancer patients.
1986 President 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.”
1987 Moroccan government cracks down upon Cannabis cultivation in lower elevations of the Rif Mountains.
1988 U.S. DEA administrative law Judge Francis Young finds, after thorough hearings, that marijuana has a clearly established medical use and should be reclassified as a prescriptive drug. His recommendation is ignored.
1992 In 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.
1993 Cannabis eradication efforts resume in Morocco.
1994 Border hashish still produced in Pakistan. Heavy fighting between rival Muslim clans continues to upset hashish trade in Afghanistan.
1995 Introduction of hashish-making equipment and appearance of locally produced hashish in Amsterdam coffee shops.
1996 California (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.
1997 The American Office of National Drug Control Policy commissioned the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to conduct a comprehensive study of the medical efficacy of cannabis therapeutics. The IOM concluded that cannabis is a safe and effective medicine, patients should have access, and the government should expand avenues for research and drug development. The federal government completely ignored its findings and refused to act on its recommendations.
1997-2001 In direct contradiction to the IOM recomendations, President Clinton, continuing the Regan and Bush “war on drugs” era, began a campaign to arrest and prosecute medical cannabis patients and their providers in California and elsewhere.
1999 Hawaii and North Dakota unsuccessfully attempt to legalize hemp farming. The U.S. DEA reclassifies dronabinol as a schedule III drug, making the medication easier to prescribe while marijuana itself continues to be listed Schedule I as having “no accepted medical use.”
2000 Legalization initiative in Alaska fails.
2001 Britain’s Home Secretary, David Blunkett, proposes relaxing the classification of cannabis from a class B to class C. Canada adopts federal laws in support of medical marijuana, and by 2003 Canada becomes the first country in the world to approve medical marijuana nation-wide.
2001-2009 Under President G.W. Bush the U.S. federal government intensified its “war on drugs” targeting both patients and doctors across the state of California.
2005 Marc Emery, a Canadian citizen and the largest distributor of marijuana seeds into the United States from approximately 1995 through July 2005 was on the FBI #1 wanted drug list for years and was eventually indicted by the U.S. DEA. He was extradited from Canada for trial in the U.S. in May 2010.
2009 President 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.
2010 Marc Emery of Vancouver, BC, Canada, was sentenced on September 10 in a U.S. District Court in Seattle to five years in prison and four years of supervised release for “conspiracy to manufacture marijuana” (eg. selling marijuana seeds).
2010 Proposition 19 to legalize marijuana in California is placed back on the ballet (named The Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010). Current voter poles suggest that the proposition has about 50% population support and will likely win or loose by a margin of only 2%.
Oct 2010 Just weeks before the November 02 California election on Prop. 19 Attorney General Eric Holder said federal authorities would continue to enforce U.S. laws that declare the drug is illegal, even if voters approve the initiative, stating “we will vigorously enforce the (Controlled Substances Act) against those individuals and organizations that possess, manufacture or distribute marijuana for recreational use.”