In 1997, a hemp rope was found, dating back to 26900 BC. It was found in Czechoslovakia. This makes it the oldest known object associated with marijuana history to date.
Since then, cannabis has played an essential role in the development of cultures around the world. For thousands of years, cannabis was not only legal but also an essential staple across the globe. It held medicinal, commercial, and spiritual value.
Earliest Known Use Of Cannabis In China
The cultivation of cannabis can be traced back at least 12,000 years, making it one of humanity’s oldest grown crops. Cannabis is believed to have first evolved from Central Asia. The earliest known evidence of cannabis comes from Yangshao, China, along the Yellow River Valley.
The economy of Yangshao was cannabis-driven from 5000 to 3000 BC. Archaeological evidence shows that the Yangshao people produced hemp pottery and woven cannabis fiber (hemp). Archeologists found that the hemp was used to make ropes, clothes, fishing nets, and even paper. It is even believed that the Chinese invented the first hemp paper. Cannabis seeds were also used to create CBD oil for food and ailments in China.
According to legend, in 2700 BC, Chinese Emperor Shen Nug was the very first person to use cannabis as a medicine. The emperor, also known as Chen, is considered to be the Father of Chinese Medicine. The Chinese were the first known people to use cannabis for medical issues, such as constipation, fatigue, gout, and an anesthetic for surgeries.
One of the first references to marijuana occurred under the Chinese Emperor Fu Hsi's reign. Fu Hsi made many mentions of “Ma,” the Chinese term for marijuana or cannabis. Records show that the emperor also referred to cannabis as a popular medicine for both yin and yang.
Cannabis In Central Asia
Historical scholars often consider the Scythians in Siberia as the originators of cannabis. This was around the 7th century. Marijuana was a vital part of the Scythian culture.
The Scythians used marijuana to pay tribute to the deceased leaders' spirits and memories. Scythian men and women also smoked marijuana for pleasure. They used it for other religious rituals in addition to everyday life uses.
Cannabis In Europe And America
The history of marijuana has recorded that the Chinese cannabis plant was first brought to Korea in 2000 BC. Korean farmers planted marijuana plants across Southern Asia, and the plant spread to India, Europe, the Middle East, Ukraine, and Southeast Russia. The plant was reportedly brought to Germany by German tribes and to Britain by Anglo-Saxons around 1200 AD. During this time, marijuana was also being spread across the Middle East, South America, Africa, and the Caribbean.
In the 1800s, marijuana was widely used in Brazil by the lower class for medicine, spices, clothing, and energy; however, by the 19th century, cannabis was banned in Rio de Janeiro. During the 1800s, cannabis also gained popularity in Jamaica and was brought by the Indian laborers traveling to the region for work. In the 1930s, the Rastafarian movement began taking place, with marijuana at the forefront of the movement in a religious context and group ideologies.
It was during the Mexican Revolution that cannabis seeds first found their way to North America and was brought by Mexican immigrants. In 1910, Mexican immigrants introduced marijuana to Americans for its recreational uses rather than for its medical uses. In the 1970s, marijuana cultivation grew in vast amounts in Afghanistan, but by 1972, the Afghan government began its efforts to regulate and limit the use of marijuana.
History Of Cannabis In The United States
Throughout the 19th Century, medical journals and news reports typically used the plant’s formal name, cannabis. The term marijuana came into popular usage in the US early in the 20th century as a way to play off anti-immigration sentiments during the Mexican Revolution. In 1906, the Pure Food and Drug Act came into effect in the US. This act regulated the labeling of medicinal and food products, such as alcohol, cannabis, opiates, and cocaine. In 1916, scientists of the Department of Agriculture used hemp pulp for the manufacture of paper; it was concluded that pulpwood was more favorable for this process.
Utah was the first state to prohibit the use of cannabis for non-medical uses in 1915. By 1941, 28 other states had followed in suit. The government appeared to mirror the actions of the states and the UK, which, in 1928, banned marijuana for personal use. In 1919, the 18th Amendment was added to the US Constitution, prohibiting the sale, manufacture, and transport of alcohol. During this prohibition, marijuana became a popular alternative to the consumption of alcohol until it was banned recreationally.
In 1936, an anti-marijuana propaganda film, “Reefer Madness,” was released to intimidate young Americans from the use of cannabis. The following year, in 1937, the Marijuana Tax Act was passed, making weed illegal. In 1941, cannabis was removed off of the US Pharmacopoeia, thereby terminating its status of medicinal use. In the years that followed, drug use penalties, including marijuana, intensified with the passing of the Narcotics Control Act and the Boggs Act.
Marijuana In The US: 1970s, 1980s, 1990s
In the 1970s, evidence arose that supported cannabis use in glaucoma sufferers, marking the beginning of CBD history. During this time, the Shafer Commission and President Nixon’s government began encouraging the re-legalization of marijuana and cannabis. This was not widely supported, and California’s Proposition 19 did not receive a majority vote.
US President Carter, in the late 1970s, began the decriminalization of cannabis for those who were caught with under an ounce. In opposition to President Carter, President Reagan came into office and signed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, sequentially raising sanction for the possession and distribution of drugs. This is marked as the beginning of the “war on drugs” in the US.
In 1996, major strides were taken in the US toward the study and recognition of marijuana’s medicinal properties. In the same year, California was the first state to re-legalize medical marijuana for certain illnesses, such as AIDS and cancer. Later that year, Arizona followed suit with many other states like Vermont, New Mexico, Washington, and Colorado.
Marijuana In The 21st Century
In the 21st century, governments around the world have become more and more accepting of marijuana, both medically and recreationally. In 2001, Canada changed its federal laws in support of medicinal cannabis. Within three years, Canada became the first county ever to approve and support the use of marijuana medically across the whole country.
President Obama made strides to end the two-decade war on drugs in the US. In 2009, President Obama asserted that drug use is a public health issue rather than the US Justice Department. In 2010, California Proposition 19 resurfaced and passed, illustrating the voter's perception of marijuana use. Colorado and Washington both passed the recreational use of marijuana in 2012, and Seattle became the home of the first legal recreational pot shop in 2014.
Since then, many states in the US are jumping on board with the legalization of recreational cannabis. However, the federal government continues to classify marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, meaning that it is classified the same as LSD and heroin. Marijuana remains under this classification because of the government’s perception that marijuana has no safe level of use, no accepted medical use, and a high risk of abuse and addiction.
Marijuana history has its roots throughout America. And it stretches all around the globe. The accepted uses of marijuana (medicinal, recreational, and as a product manufacturer) is widely argued in cultures around the world today.
Cannabis history has come a long way to the marijuana laws and regulations we know today. However, marijuana's place in everyday life is still being molded and established. And this will likely change in the years to come.