Since the formation of the United States of America on July 4, 1776, cannabis has been around (and enjoyed). Its history, however, is long and rather tumultuous. Initially utilized as a textile material and later a medicinal ingredient, our favorite plant became highly contentious through the years. Here is a brief timeline...
Cannabis dates back to the earliest days of settlement, when hemp was grown like any other crop. In fact, hemp production was highly encouraged because it could make clothing, paper, food products, and more.
Our very first President, George Washington, wrote in his journal expressing his interest in farming hemp and questioning the possible medicinal benefits of cannabis.
The cannabis party got started! Weed was not just widely accepted in main- stream medicine, but it was also an ingredient in many over-the-counter products.
Already added to the U.S. Pharmacopeia for various medicinal purposes, Vanity Fair advertised hashish candy as an innocuous stimulant that is good for nervousness and sadness.
After many years of enjoyment, cannabis started getting a bad reputation due to recreational usage in the American south, especially among jazz musicians. Labeled derogatory names, cannabis was associated with immigrants, and many began to fear the drug due to the association.
Cannabis was criminalized, with politicians claiming it led to insanity, and was associated with crime and violence. The Marijuana Tax Act was enacted, which confined cannabis usage to only those that could pay a heavy excise tax for detailed authorized industrial and medical use.
The New York Academy of Medicine printed a report that claimed cannabis was only a mild intoxicant.
The Boggs Act created severe mandatory punishments for offenses involving cannabis and various other drugs.
Cannabis began gaining popularity once again, especially amongst the counterculture. Its popularity was further bolstered when reports from President John F. Kennedy revealed that weed did not influence violence or lead to the use of more dangerous drugs. With the increase in usage, arrests were more prevalent as authorities attempted to crack down on cannabis usage and distribution.
1970: While Oregon, Maine, and Alaska decriminalized cannabis, congress enacted the Controlled Substances Act, which established weed as a Schedule I drug, alongside LSD and heroin. The Shafer Commission advised that individual usage of cannabis be decriminalized, but President Richard Nixon disregarded their guidance, and declared the war on drugs that would consume parents and politicians and fill prisons for decades to come.
1980s: The war on drugs continued throughout the Reagan administration, with lawmakers enacting policy while ignoring scientists, who consistently upheld the relative harmlessness of cannabis use. With "Just Say No" and "D.A.R.E" programs enacted, use remained criminalized, and penalties and mandatory sentences were upheld.
1996: California voters supported Proposition 215, which legalized cannabis for medicinal usage at the state level.
2000s: Lawmakers continue their do-si-do with cannabis. However, more and more states legalize weed for recreational use.
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