Marijuana History
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Marijuana History

Without the hemp plant, one of the oldest psychoactive plants around, there would be no marijuana history to write about. The dried leaves of the hemp plant have been inhaled and ingested for centuries. Marijuana changes an user’s mood, perception, and consciousness. For most of its history, hemp and its by-products have been legal. Here are a few captivating specifics about the history of marijuana:

  • Marijuana use as medicine was first recorded in history as far back as 2727 B.C. by the Chinese Emperor Shen Nung. He documented its medical effectiveness in treating rheumatism, gout, and even absent-mindedness.
  • Queen Victoria of England was prescribed cannabis for menstrual cramps by her personal physician Sir Russell Reynolds. He wrote in the first issue of The Lancet in 1890 that “when pure and administered carefully, cannabis is one of the most useful medicines we possess.”
  • America’s first marijuana law was not, as many might imagine, to ban the growing of the plant. Marijuana history shows that it was just the opposite. Back in 1619, the farmers of the Jamestown Colony in Virginia were “ordered” to grow hemp crops. This was the first of many such laws. Also, between 1763 and 1767, not growing the hemp plant could get a farmer thrown in jail.
  • The reason that hemp farming was encouraged was so very different from the reasons that many people try to grow it today. Back then, the hemp plant had much more practical uses. Once harvested, it was turned into clothing, sails, and rope.
  • Marijuana history shows that hemp was once considered legal tender in the United States, even accepted by the government as a payment for your taxes.
  • Major General George Washington, U.S. Revolutionary War hero and first president of the United States, cultivated Indian Hemp (Cannabis sativa indica, i.e. medical cannabis, which could also be used for fiber, although not as well as regular hemp) on his farm. "Make the most you can of the Indian hemp seed. Sow it everywhere." -- George Washington, in a letter to his farm manager.
  • Visitors to the 1876 American Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia were invited to “toke up” at the Turkish Hashish Exposition stand
  • In the 1890s, marijuana history reveals that several women’s temperance societies actually recommended the use of hashish instead of alcohol. Their reasoning: liquor led to domestic violence, whereas hashish did not.
  • Up until the 1940’s, marijuana was easily obtained at the local general store or pharmacy. Used as a medicine, it was listed in the United States Pharmacopoeia as useful for medical conditions such as nausea, rheumatism, and labor pain. It was subsequently removed from the pharmacopoeia in 1942 when it was decided that marijuana was a harmful and addictive drug, causing psychotic episodes.

Marijuana History Timeline:

6000 B.C. Cannabis seeds used for food in China

4000 B.C. Textiles made of hemp are used in China. (Pharmacotheon)

2727 B.C. First recorded use of cannabis as medicine in Chinese pharmacopoeia. In every part of the world humankind has used cannabis for a wide variety of health problems

1500 B.C. Cannabis cultivated in China for food and fiber

1500 B.C. Scythians cultivate cannabis and use it to weave fine hemp cloth (Sumach 1975)

1200-800 B.C. Cannabis 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

700-600 B.C. The Zoroastrian Zend-Avesta, an ancient Persian religious text of several hundred volumes, and said to have been written by Zarathustra (Zoroaster), refers to bhang as Zoroaster's "good narcotic" (Vendidad or The Law Against Demons)

700-300 B.C. Scythian tribes leave Cannabis seeds as offerings in royal tombs

500 B.C. Scythian couple die and are buried with two small tents covering censers. 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

500 B.C. Hemp is introduced into Northern Europe by the Scythians. An urn containing leaves and seeds of the Cannabis plant, unearthed near Berlin, is dated to about this time

500-100 B.C. Hemp spreads throughout northern Europe

430 B.C. Herodotus reports on both ritual and recreation use of Cannabis by the Scythians (Herodotus the Histories 430 B.C. trans. G. Rawlinson)

100 B.C.-0 The psychotropic properties of Cannabis are mentioned in the newly compiled herbal Pen Ts'ao Ching which is attributed to an emperor c. 2700 B.C.

0-100 A.D. Construction of Samartian gold and glass paste stash box for storing hashish, coriander, or salt, buried in Siberian tomb

70 A.D. Dioscorides mentions the use of Cannabis as a Roman medicament

170 A.D. Galen (Roman) alludes to the psychoactivity of Cannabis seed confections

500-600 A.D. The Jewish Talmud mentions the euphoric properties of Cannabis (Abel 1980)

900-1000 A.D. Scholars debate the pros and cons of eating hashish. Use spreads throughout Arabia

1090-1256 A.D. In Khorasan, Persia, Hasan ibn al-Sabbah, the Old Man of the Mountain, 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 supposed use of Hashish. 1256 Alamut falls

1200s Cannabis is introduced in Egypt during the reign of the Ayyubid dynasty on the occasion of the flooding of Egypt by mystic devotees coming from Syria. (M.K. Hussein 1957 - Soueif 1972)

Early 1200s Hashish smoking very popular throughout the Middle East

1155-1221 Persian legend of the Sufi master Sheik Haidar's of Khorasan's personal discovery of Cannabis and its subsequent spread to Iraq, Bahrain, Egypt and Syria. Another of the earliest written narratives of the use of Cannabis as an inebriant

1300s The oldest monograph on hashish, Zahr al-'arish fi tahrim al-hashish, was written. It has since been lost

1300s Ibn al-Baytar of Spain provides a description of psychoactive Cannabis

1300s Arab traders bring Cannabis to the Mozambique coast of Africa

1231 Hashish introduced to Iraq in the reign of Caliph Mustansir (Rosenthal 1971)

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

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

Mid 1600s 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

1700s Use of hashish, alcohol, and opium spreads among the population of occupied Constantinople

Late 1700s Hashish becomes a major trade item between Central Asia and South Asia

1798 Napoleon discovers that much of the Egyptian lower class habitually uses hashish (Kimmens 1977). He declares a total prohibition. Soldiers returning to France bring the tradition with them

1900s Hashish production expands from Russian Turkestan into Yarkand in Chinese Turkestan

1809 Antoine Sylvestre de Sacy, a leading Arabist, reveals the etymology of the words "assassin" and "hashishin"

1840 In America, medicinal preparations with a Cannabis base are available. Hashish available in Persian pharmacies

1843 Le Club des Hachichins, or Hashish Eater's Club, established in Paris

1850 Hashish appears in Greece.

1856 British tax marijuana and charas trade in India

1870-1880 First reports of hashish smoking on Greek mainland

c. 1875 Cultivation for hashish introduced to Greece

1877 Kerr reports on Indian marijuana and charas trade

1890 Greek Department of Interior prohibits importance, cultivation and use of hashish

1890 Hashish made illegal in Turkey

1893-1894 The India Hemp Drugs Commission Report is issued

1893-1894 70,000 to 80,000 kg of hashish legally imported into India from Central Asia each year

Early 2000s Hashish smoking very popular throughout the Middle East

1915-1927 Cannabis begins to be prohibited for nonmedical use in the U.S., especially in SW states...California (1915), Texas (1919), Louisiana (1924), and New York (1927)

1920 Metaxus dictators in Greece crack down on hashish smoking

1920s Hashish smuggled into Egypt from Greece, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, and Central Asia

1926 Lebanese hashish production peaks after World War I until prohibited in 1926

1928 Recreational use of Cannabis is banned in Britain

1920s-1930s High-quality hashish produced in Turkey near Greek border

1930 Yarkand region of Chinese Turkestan exports 91,471 kg of hashish legally into the Northwest Frontier and Punjab regions of India

1930s Legal taxed imports of hashish continue into India from Central Asia

1934-1935 Chinese government moves to end all Cannabis cultivation in Yarkand and charas traffic from Yarkand. Both licit and illicit hashish production become illegal in Chinese Turkestan

1937 Cannabis made federally illegal in the U.S. with the passage of the Marihuana Tax Act

1938 Supply of hashish from Chinese Turkestan nearly ceases

1940s Greek hashish smoking tradition fades

1941 Indian government considers cultivation in Kashmir to fill void of hashish from Chinese Turkestan

1941-1942 Hand-rubbed charas from Nepal is choicest hashish in India during World War II

1945 Legal hashish consumption continues in India

1945-1955 Hashish use in Greece flourishes again

1950s Hashish still smuggled into India from Chinese Central Asia

1950s Moroccan government tacitly allows kif cultivation in Rif Mountains

1962 First hashish made in Morocco

1963 Turkish police seize 2.5 tons of hashish

1965 First reports of C. afghanica use for hashish production in northern Afghanistan

1965 Mustafa comes to Ketama in Morocco to make hashish from local kif

1966 The Moroccan government attempts to purge kif growers from Rif Mountains

1967 "Smash", the first hashish oil appears. Red Lebanese reaches California

Late 1960s-Early 1970s The Brotherhood popularizes Afghani hashish

1970-1973 Huge fields of Cannabis cultivated for hashish production in Afghanistan. Last years that truly great Afghani hashish is available

Oct 27, 1970 The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act is passed. Part II of this is the Controlled Substance Act (CSA) which defines a scheduling system for drugs and places most of the known hallucinogens (LSD, psilocybin, psilocin, mescaline, peyote, cannabis) in Schedule I

1972 The Nixon-appointed Shafer Commission urged use of cannabis be re-legalized, but their recommendation was ignored. Medical research continues

Early 1970s Lebanese red and blonde hashish of very high-quality exported. The highest quality Turkish hashish from Gaziantep near Syria appears in Western Europe

Early 1970s 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

1973 Nepal bans the Cannabis shops and charas (hand-rolled hash) export

1973 Afghan government makes hashish production and sales illegal. Afghani harvest is pitifully small

1975 FDA establishes Compassionate Use program for medical marijuana

1976-1977 Quality of Lebanese hashish reaches zenith

1978 Westerners make sieved hashish in Nepal from wild Cannabis

Late 1970s Increasing manufacture of "modern" Afghani hashish. Cannabis varieties from Afghanistan imported into Kashmir for sieved hashish production

1980s Morocco becomes one of, if not the largest, hashish producing and exporting nations

1980s "Border" hashish produced in northwestern Pakistan along the Afghan border to avoid Soviet-Afghan war

1985 Hashish still produced by Muslims of Kashgar and Yarkland (NW China)

1986 Most private stashes of pre-war Afghani hashish in Amsterdam, Goa, and America are nearly finished

1987 Moroccan government cracks down upon Cannabis cultivation in lower elevations of Rif Mountains

1988 DEA administrative law Judge Francis Young finds after thorough hearings that marijuana has clearly established medical use and should be reclassified as a prescriptive drug

1993 Cannabis eradication efforts resume in Morocco

1994 Heavy fighting between rival Muslim clans continues to upset hashish trade in Afghanistan

1994 Border hashish still produced in Pakistan

1995 Introduction of hashish-making equipment and appearance of locally produced hashish in Amsterdam coffee shops

Marijuana History
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