Marijuana History

Marijuana History

Marijuana has been used since ancient times to deliver a euphoric feeling to the user. It has proved to be beneficial for many ailments but also proved harmful when used by those who are irresponsible. During its history in the United States, marijuana has been used to help treat a variety of medical conditions also. From the mid-19th century through the 1940s it was provided by doctors to help individuals with rheumatism, nausea and as a remedy for difficult labor pains.

The Beginnings of Marijuana

The first mention of marijuana historically was in ancient Chinese medical reference book dated in the 28th century B.C. Marijuana then moved across the continent to India and Northern Africa. In 1545 the Spanish brought marijunana to the New World. The English introduced it in Jamestown in 1611 where it became a major commercial crop alongside tobacco and was grown as a source of fiber. Europe was introduced to it, according to historians, in the 6th century A.D.

By 1890, hemp had been replaced by cotton as a major cash crop in southern states. Some patent medicines during this era contained marijuana, but it was a small percentage compared to the number containing opium or cocaine. It was in the 1920s that marijuana began to catch on. Some historians say its emergence was brought about by Prohibition. Its recreational use was restricted to jazz musicians and people in show business. “Reefer songs” became the rage of the jazz world. Marijuana clubs, called “tea pads,” sprang up in every major city. These marijuana establishments were tolerated by the authorities because marijuana was not illegal and patrons showed no evidence of making a nuisance of themselves or disturbing the community. Marijuana was not considered a social threat.

Marijuana Outlawed

Marijuana was listed in the United States Pharmacopeia from 1850 until 1942 and was prescribed for various conditions including labor pains, nausea and rheumatism. Its use as an intoxicant was also commonplace from the 1850s to the 1930s. A campaign conducted in the 1930s by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Narcotics (now the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs) sought to portray marijuana as a powerful, addicting substance that would lead users into narcotics addiction. It is still considered a “gateway” drug by some authorities. In the 1950s it was an accessory of the beat generation; in the 1960s it was used by college students and “hippies” and became a symbol of rebellion against authority. It was an embodiment of fighting the establishment and rebelling against the mores of parents and officials in position of power.

Controlled Substances Act

The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 classified marijuana along with heroin and LSD as a Schedule I drug. This stipulation prohibited doctors from prescribing the drug for its positive medical used anymore because of its relatively high abuse potential. Most marijuana at that time came from Mexico, who stepped in to the fill the void as the U.S. began out ruling its use. But in 1975 the Mexican government agreed to eradicate the crop by spraying it with the herbicide paraquat, raising fears of toxic side effects. Colombia then became the main supplier.

The “zero tolerance” climate of the Reagan and Bush administrations resulted in passage of strict laws and mandatory sentences for possession of marijuana and in heightened vigilance against smuggling at the southern borders. The “war on drugs” thus brought with it a shift from reliance on imported supplies to domestic cultivation (particularly in Hawaii and California). Beginning in 1982 the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) turned increased attention to marijuana farms in the United States, and there was a shift to the indoor growing of plants specially developed for small size and high yield. After over a decade of decreasing use, marijuana smoking began an upward trend once more in the early 1990s, especially among teenagers.

Marijuana Current Usage

Currently, several states have voted in favor of the medical use of marijuana, despite the DEA condemning its use for medical treatment. Various rulings have allowed doctors to discuss the usage of marijuana with their patients as a treatment option. However, many are banned from prescribing it to patients.

Substance Abuse Help

If you or someone you know is struggling with a substance abuse and might require marijuana drug treatment, we can help. Please call our toll free number at (877) 714-1320. We are available 24 hours a day to answer your questions on drug and alcohol addiction and treatment.