May 19, 2022

History of Cannabis

There is a long and a very colorful history of Cannabis across the globe. The origin of Cannabis seems to have come from...

There is a long and a very colorful history of Cannabis across the globe. The origin of Cannabis seems to have come from either Western China or Central Asia. Historically, Cannabis was mainly used for healing. The very first documented use of Cannabis dates back to 2800 BC. Back then, Cannabis was included  in the pharmacopeia of the Emperor Shen Nung who is generally known as the father of Chinese Medicine. 

Now, let's focus on  getting to know the history of Cannabis in the United States. In the early days, the American colonists were basically encouraged to grow and cultivate Cannabis for hemp. This all changed when the focus shifted towards Cannabis being used in the field of medicine.  

Infographic on history of cannabis in the US
History Of Cannabis in the US

United States and Hemp:

The Cannabis plant is used to produce both marijuana and hemp. Hemp generally tends to have a much lower percentage of THC than marijuana as it is derived from a strain. 

THC basically initiates the hallucinogenic effects of the Cannabis or hemp plant once it is consumed. 

In 1619, Virginia passed a law that stated that hemp should be produced in each and every farm of the colony. In the following states, hemp was considered to be a proper form of currency during the 1600s:

  • Virginia
  • Maryland 
  • Pennsylvania 

The shirts produced from hemp were itchy back in the day. As innovations in textiles developed, more and more products began to replace hemp. An example of this was cotton which at its height was the most popular substitution for hemp. 

The wide-spread use of hemp declined eventually.  By the end of the Civil War, the United States’ hemp production had passed its peak. However, the use of the plant was on the rise for other uses. At this time, marijuana was becoming an increasingly popular ingredient in medicines and tinctures.

Reefer Madness Rise: 

In the 1900s, the Beat Generation emerged, when a group of young people began to unite in their rejection of conventional society in favor of artistic and bohemian ideals.  Also known as the “Beatniks”, this group  were known for experimenting with drugs, particularly marijuana. 

But, it is important to know that the Beatniks weren’t the first counterculture group in the States to start trying out Cannabis. 

In the 1910s, the Mexican Revolution pushed the Mexican public to migrate to the United States and as a result, those refugees introduced  marjiuana into the mainstream.

These Mexican immigrants helped popularize the  recreational  of marijuana  in the U.S. 

In the 1930s, it became popular among the “hepsters'', a community of African-American jazz performers. Self-identified as “hep cats'', jazz greats such as Cab Calloway also contributed to making marijuana mainstream with his hit song “Reefer Man.”

The Roots of Criminalization: 

Before the Beatniks took up the cause of Cannabis in the United States, the process of criminalizing marijuana had already begun. 

The roots of this movement are mired in a racism that still persists in how drug policies are carried out in the U.S. today. The following facts of information are to be noted: 

  • In 1929, the Great Depression began as the stock market crashed. Straight-laced bureaucrats looking to create a political distraction turned their attention to marijuana, which at the time, was mostly being used in the Mexican and black communities. They painted the drug and the communities using it as a threat to the already crippled country and began the process of banning it.
  • Twenty-nine (29) states had outlawed marijuana by 1931. And in 1937, the Marijuana Tax Act was passed, essentially making the plant illegal in the United States.

Public Opinion Regarding Cannabis in the U.S in 2022:

According to a poll conducted from September 3 through 15 in 2021 by the Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel two-thirds of Americans say the use of marijuana should be legal. 

The statistic reflects a steady increase over the past decade, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. The  share of U.S. adults who oppose legalization has fallen from 52% in 2010 to 32% today.

Meanwhile, an overwhelming majority of U.S. adults, approximately 91%, say marijuana should be legal.  Of that majority, 59% believe that it should be legal for both medical and recreational use. Approximately 32% of those polled believe that it should be legal just for medical use. 

Fewer than one-in-ten (approximately 8% of respondents) prefer to keep marijuana illegal in all circumstances, according to the survey. 

The majority of Millennials (those born between 1981 and 1997), Gen Xers (born between 1965 and 1980), and Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) say the use of marijuana should be legal. Members of the Silent Generation (born between 1928 and 1945) continue to be the least supportive of legalization. 

Only 35% favor legalizing marijuana, while 64% are opposed. 

In addition to asking respondents about whether marijuana use should be legal in general, the Center asked a separate group of respondents about legalizing marijuana for medical and recreational use.

Nearly six-in-ten Americans (59%) favor legalizing marijuana for medical and recreational use, while another 32% say it should be legal for medical use only. Only 8% say it should not be legal.

Research on Medicinal use of Cannabis:

According to the Mayo Clinic, medical Cannabis has possible benefits for several conditions. State laws vary in which conditions qualify people for treatment with medical marijuana. If you're considering marijuana for medical use, check your state's regulations.

Depending on the state, you may qualify for treatment with medical marijuana if you meet certain requirements and have a qualifying condition, such as:

  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Crohn's disease
  • Epilepsy and seizures
  • Glaucoma
  • Multiple sclerosis and muscle spasms
  • Severe and chronic pain
  • Severe nausea or vomiting caused by cancer treatment

Medical marijuana comes in a variety of forms, including:

  • Pill
  • Liquid
  • Oil
  • Powder
  • Dried leaves
Medical Uses of Cannabis & Hemp

How and where you purchase medical marijuana varies by state. Once you have the product, you administer it yourself. How often you use it depends on its form and your symptoms.

Your symptom relief and side effects will vary based on which type you are using. The quickest effects occur with inhalation of the vaporized form. The slowest onset occurs with the pill form.

A New Era:

Surprises and a wealth of changes are expected every year especially in an ever-evolving industry like Cannabis. In my personal point of view, I expect the worldwide wave of Cannabis Legalization to pick up pace.  Additionally, the  technology will definitely play an outsized role in creating easier and safer access to Cannabis in the coming years. That said, sky's the limit for this special industry which will have an impact globally. 

A Computer Scientist who’s a die-hard cricket fan, enthusiastic Fifa player and unfortunately a proud chocoholic.