"The legalization of marijuana is not a dangerous experiment – the prohibition is the experiment, and it has failed dramatically, with millions of victims all around the world."

Sebastian Marincolo

CANNABIS HISTORY: TIMELINE

8000+ BCE

Use of hemp cord in pottery identified at ancient village site dating back over 10,000 years, located in the area of modern day Taiwan. Finding hemp use and cultivation in this date range puts it as one of the first and oldest known human agriculture crops. As explained by Richard Hamilton in the 2009 Scientific American article on sustainable agriculture"Modern humans emerged some 250,000 years ago, yet agriculture is a fairly recent invention, only about 10,000 years old ... Agriculture is not natural; it is a human invention. It is also the basis of modern civilization." This point was also touched on by Carl Sagan in 1977 when he proposed the possibility that marijuana may have actually been world's first agricultural crop, leading to the development of civilization itself (see 1977, below).

6000 BCE

Cannabis seeds and oil used for food in China.

4000 BCE

Textiles made of hemp are used in China and Turkestan.

2737 BCE

First recorded use of cannabis as medicine by Emperor Shen Neng of China.

2000 - 800 BCE

Bhang (dried cannabis leaves, seeds and stems) 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.

1500 BCE

Cannabis cultivated in China for food and fiber. Scythians cultivate cannabis and use it to weave fine hemp cloth.

700 - 600 BCE

The Zoroastrian Zendavesta, an ancient Persian religious text of several hundred volumes refers to bhang as the "good narcotic."

600 BCE

Hemp rope appears in southern Russia.

700 - 300 BCE

Scythian tribes leave Cannabis seeds as offerings in royal tombs.

500 BCE

Scythian couple die and are buried with two small tents covering containers for burning incense. 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. Hemp is introduced into Northern Europe by the Scythians. An urn containing leaves and seeds of the Cannabis plant, unearthed near Berlin, is found and dated to about this time. Use of hemp products spread throughout northern Europe.

430 BCE

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

200 BCE

Hemp rope appears in Greece. Chinese Book of Rites mentions hemp fabric.

100 BCE

First evidence of hemp paper, invented in China.

100 - 0 BCE

The psychotropic properties of Cannabis are mentioned in the newly compiled herbal Pen Ts'ao Ching.

0 - 100 CE

Construction of Samaritan gold and glass paste stash box for storing hashish, coriander, or salt, buried in Siberian tomb.

23 - 79 CE

Pliny the Elder's The Natural History mentions hemp rope and marijuana's analgesic effects.

47 - 127 CE

Plutarch mentions Thracians using cannabis as an intoxicant.

70 CE

Dioscorides, a physician in Nero's army, lists medical marijuana in his Pharmacopoeia.

100 CE

Imported hemp rope appears in England.

105 CE

Legend suggests that Ts'ai Lun invents hemp paper in China, 200 years after its actual appearance (see 100 BCE above).

130 - 200 CE

Greek physician Galen prescribes medical marijuana.

200 CE

First pharmacopoeia of the East lists medical marijuana. Chinese surgeon Hua T'o uses marijuana as an anesthetic.

300 CE

A young woman in Jerusalem receives medical marijuana during childbirth.

570 CE

The French queen Arnegunde is buried with hemp cloth.

500 - 600 CE

The Jewish Talmud mentions the euphoriant properties of Cannabis.

850 CE

Vikings take hemp rope and seeds to Iceland.

900 CE

Arabs learn techniques for making hemp paper.

900 - 1000 CE

Scholars debate the pros and cons of eating hashish. Use spreads throughout Arabia.

1000 CE

Hemp ropes appear on Italian ships. Arabic physician Ibn Wahshiyah's On Poisons warns of marijuana's potential dangers.

1090 - 1124 CE

In Khorasan, Persia, Hasan ibn al-Sabbah, 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 use of Hashish by a paramilitary organization as a hypnotic (see U.S. military use, 1942 below). Early 12th Century Hashish smoking becomes very popular throughout the Middle East.

1155 - 1221 CE

Persian legend of the Sufi master Sheik Haydar's personal discovery of Cannabis and his own alleged invention of hashish with it's subsequent spread to Iraq, Bahrain, Egypt and Syria. Another of the ealiest written narratives of the use of Cannabis as an inebriant.

1171 - 1341 CE

During the Ayyubid dynasty of Egypt, Cannabis is introduced by mystic devotees from Syria.

1200 CE

1,001 Nights, an Arabian collection of tales, describes hashish's intoxicating and aphrodisiac properties.

13th Century

The oldest monograph on hashish, Zahr al-'arish fi tahrim al-hashish, was written. It has since been lost. Ibn al-Baytar of Spain provides a description of the psychoactive nature of Cannabis. Arab traders bring Cannabis to the Mozambique coast of Africa.

1271 - 1295 CE

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.

1300 CE

Ethiopian pipes containing marijuana suggest the herb has spread from Egypt to the rest of Africa.

1378 CE

Ottoman Emir Soudoun Scheikhouni issues one of the first edicts against the eating of hashish.

1526 CE

Babur Nama, first emperor and founder of Mughal Empire learned of hashish in Afghanistan.

1532 CE

French physician Rabelais's gargantua and Pantagruel mentions marijuana's medicinal effects.

1533 CE

King Henry VIII fines farmers if they do not raise hemp for industrial use.

1549 CE

Angolan slaves brought cannabis with them to the sugar plantations of northeastern Brazil. They were permitted to plant their cannabis between rows of cane, and to smoke it between harvests.

c. 1550 CE

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.

1563 CE

Portuguese physician Garcia da Orta reports on marijuana's medicinal effects.

1578 CE

China's Li Shih-Chen writes of the antibiotic and antiemetic effects of marijuana.

1600 CE

England begins to import hemp from Russia.

1606 - 1632 CE

French and British cultivate Cannabis for hemp at their colonies in Port Royal (1606), Virginia (1611), and Plymouth (1632).

1616 CE

Jamestown settlers began growing the hemp plant for its unusually strong fiber and used it to make rope, sails, and clothing.

1621 CE

Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy suggests marijuana may treat depression.

1600 - 1700 CE

Use of hashish, alcohol, and opium spreads among the population of occupied Constantinople. Hashish becomes a major trade item between Central Asia and South Asia.

1753 CE

Linnaeus classifies Cannabis sativa.

1764 CE

Medical marijuana appears in The New England Dispensatory.

1776 CE

Kentucky begins growing hemp.

1794 CE

Medical marijuana appears in The Edinburgh New Dispensary.

1798 CE

Napoleon discovers that much of the Egyptian lower class habitually uses hashish. Soldiers returning to France bring the tradition with them, and he declares a total prohibition.

1800 CE

Marijuana plantations flourished in Mississippi, Georgia, California, South Carolina, Nebraska, New York, and Kentucky. Also during this period, smoking hashish was popular throughout France and to a lesser degree in the US. Hashish production expands from Russian Turkestan into Yarkand in Chinese Turkestan.

1809 CE

Antoine Sylvestre de Sacy, a leading Arabist, suggests a base etymology between the words "assassin" and "hashishin" -- subsequent linguest study disproves his theory.

1840 CE

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

1842 CE

Irish physician O'Shaughnessy publishes cannabis research in English medical journals.

1843 CE

French author Gautier publishes The Hashish Club.

1846 CE

French physician Moreau publishes Hashish and Mental Illness.

1850 CE

Cannabis is added to The U.S. Pharmacopoeia.

1850 - 1915 CE

Marijuana was widely used throughout United States as a medicinal drug and could easily be purchased in pharmacies and general stores.

1854 CE

Whittier writes the first American work to mention cannabis as an intoxicant.

1856 CE

British tax "ganja" and "charas" trade in India.

1857 CE

American writer Ludlow publishes The Hasheesh Eater.

1858 CE

French poet Baudelaire publishes On the Artificial Ideal.

1870 - 1880 CE

First reports of hashish smoking on the Greek mainland.

1890 CE

Greek Department of Interior prohibits importance, cultivation and use of hashish. Hashish is made illegal in Turkey. Sir J.R. Reynolds, chief physician to Queen Victoria, prescribes medical marijuana to her.

1893 - 1894 CE

The India Hemp Drugs Commission Report is issued. 70,000 to 80,000 kg per year of hashish is legally imported into India from Central Asia.

1906 CE

In the U.S. the Pure Food and Drug Act is passed, regulating the labeling of products containing Alcohol, Opiates, Cocaine, and Cannabis, among others.

Early 20th Century

Hashish smoking remains very popular throughout the Middle East.

1910 CE

The Mexican Revolution caused an influx of Mexican immigrants who introduced the habit of recreational use (instead of it's generally medicinal use) into American society.

1914 CE

The Harrison Act in the U.S. defined use of Marijuana (among other drugs) as a crime.

1916 CE

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) chief scientists Jason L. Merrill and Lyster H. Dewey created paper made from hemp pulp, which they concluded was "favorable in comparison with those used with pulp wood" in USDA Bulletin No. 404. From the book "The Emperor Wears No Clothes" by Jack Herer the USDA Bulletin N. 404 reported that one acre of hemp, in annual rotation over a 20-year period, would produce as much pulp for paper as 4.1 acres (17,000 m2) of trees being cut down over the same 20-year period. This process would use only 1/7 to 1/4 as much polluting sulfur-based acid chemicals to break down the glue-like lignin that binds the fibers of the pulp, or even none at all using soda ash. The problem of dioxin contamination of rivers is avoided in the hemp paper making process, which does not need to use chlorine bleach (as the wood pulp paper making process requires) but instead safely substitutes hydrogen peroxide in the bleaching process. ... If the new (1916) hemp pulp paper process were legal today, it would soon replace about 70% of all wood pulp paper, including computer printout paper, corrugated boxes and paper bags. However, mass production of cheap news print from hemp had not developed in any country, and hemp was a relatively easy target because factories already had made large investments in equipment to handle cotton, wool, and linen, but there were relatively small investments in hemp production.

1915 - 1927 CE

In the U.S. cannabis begins to be prohibited for nonmedical use. Prohibition first begins in California (1915), followed by Texas (1919), Louisiana (1924), and New York (1927).

1919 CE

The 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution banned the manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcohol and positioned marijuana as an attractive alternative leading to an increase in use of the substance.

1920's CE

Greek dictator Ioannis Metaxas cracks down on hashish smoking. Hashish smuggled into Egypt from Greece, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, and Central Asia.

1924 CE

Russian botanists classify another major strain of the plant, Cannabis ruderalis.

1926 CE

Lebanese hashish production is prohibited.

1928 CE

Recreational use of Cannabis is banned in Britain.

1930 CE

The Yarkand region of Chinese Turkestan exports 91,471 kg of hashish legally into the Northwest Frontier and Punjab regions of India. Legal taxed imports of hashish continue into India from Central Asia.

1933 CE

The U.S. congress repealed the 21st Amendment, ending alcohol prohibition; 4 years later the prohibition of marijuana will be in full effect.

1934 - 1935 CE

Chinese government moves to end all Cannabis cultivation in Yarkand and charas traffic from Yarkand. Hashish production become illegal in Chinese Turkestan.

1936 CE

The American propaganda film Reefer Madness was made to scare American youth away from using Cannabis.

1937 CE

U.S. Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act which criminalized the drug. In response Dr. William C. Woodward, testifying on behalf of the AMA, told Congress that, "The American Medical Association knows of no evidence that marijuana is a dangerous drug" and warned that a prohibition "loses sight of the fact that future investigation may show that there are substantial medical uses for Cannabis." His comments were ignored by Congress. A part of the testimony for Congress to pass the 1937 act derived from articles in newspapers owned by William Randolph Hearst, who had significant financial interests in the timber industry, which manufactured his newsprint paper.

1938 CE

Supply of hashish from Chinese Turkestan nearly ceases. The U.S. company DuPont patented the processes for creating plastics from coal and oil and a new process for creating paper from wood pulp.

1940's CE

Greek hashish smoking tradition fades.

1941 CE

Cannabis is removed from the U.S. Pharmacopoeia and it's medicinal use is no longer recognized in America. The same year the Indian government considers cultivation in Kashmir to fill void of hashish from Chinese Turkestan. Hand-rubbed charas from Nepal is choicest hashish in India during World War II.

1942 CE

U.S. scientists working at the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the CIA’s wartime predecessor, began to develop a chemical substance that could break down the psychological defenses of enemy spies and POWs. After testing several compounds, the OSS scientists selected a potent extract of marijuana as the best available "truth serum." The cannabis concoction was given the code name TD, meaning Truth Drug. When injected into food or tobacco cigarettes, TD helped loosen the reserve of recalcitrant interrogation subjects.

1945 CE

Legal hashish consumption continues in India. Hashish use in Greece flourishes again.

1951 CE

The Boggs Act and the Narcotics Control Act in the U.S. increases all drug penalties and laid down mandatory sentences.

1960 CE

Czech researchers confirm the antibiotic and analgesic effects of cannabis.

1963 CE

Turkish police seize 2.5 tons of hashish.

1965 CE

First reports of the strain Cannibis afghanica and was used for hashish production in northern Afghanistan.

1967 CE

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

1970 - 1972 CE

Huge fields of Cannabis are cultivated for hashish production in Afghanistan. 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.

1970 CE

The US National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) forms. That same year the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act repealed mandatory penalties for drug offenses and marijuana was categorized separately from other narcotics.

1971 CE

First evidence suggesting marijuana may help glaucoma patients.

1972 CE

The Nixon-appointed Shafer Commission urged use of cannabis be re-legalized, but their recommendation was ignored. U.S. Medical research picks up pace. Proposition 19 in California to legalize marijuana use is rejected by a voter margin of 66-33%.

1973 CE

Nepal bans the Cannabis shops and charas (hand-rolled hash) export. Afghan government makes hashish production and sales illegal. Afghani harvest is pitifully small.

1975 CE

Nabilone, a cannabinoid-based medication appears.

1976 CE

The U.S. federal government created the Investigational New Drug (IND) Compassionate Use research program to allow patients to receive up to nine pounds of cannabis from the government each year. Today, five surviving patients still receive medical cannabis from the federal government, paid for by federal tax dollars. At the same time the U.S. FDA continues to list marijuana as Schedule I meaning: "A high potential for abuse with no accepted medical value."

1977 CE

Carl Sagan proposes that marijuana may have been the world's first agricultural crop, leading to the development of civilization itself: "It would be wryly interesting if in human history the cultivation of marijuana led generally to the invention of agriculture, and thereby to civilization." Carl Sagan, The Dragons of Eden, Speculations on the Origin of Human Intelligence p 191 footnote.

1977 - 1981 CE

U.S. President Carter, including his assistant for drug policy, Dr. Peter Bourne, pushed for decriminalization of marijuana, with the president himself asking Congress to abolish federal criminal penalties for those caught with less than one ounce of marijuana.

1980's CE

Morocco becomes one of, if not the largest, hashish producing and exporting nations. "Border hashish" is produced in northwestern Pakistan along the Afghan border to avoid Soviet-Afghan war.

1985 CE

Hashish is still produced by Muslims of Kashgar and Yarkland in Northwest China. In the U.S. the FDA approves dronabinol, a synthetic THC, for cancer patients.

1986 CE

President Reagan signed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, reinstating mandatory minimums and raising federal penalties for possession and distribution and officially begins the U.S. international "war on drugs."

1987 CE

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

1988 CE

U.S. DEA administrative law Judge Francis Young finds, after thorough hearings, that marijuana has a clearly established medical use and should be reclassified as a prescriptive drug. His recommendation is ignored.

1992 CE

In reaction to a surge of requests from AIDS patients for medical marijuana, the U.S. government closes the Compassionate Use program. That same year the pharmaceutical medication dronabinol is approved for AIDS-wasting syndrome.

1993 CE

Cannabis eradication efforts resume in Morocco.

1994 CE

Border hashish still produced in Pakistan. Heavy fighting between rival Muslim clans continues to upset hashish trade in Afghanistan.

1995 CE

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

1996 CE

California (the first U.S. state to ban marijuana use, see 1915) became the first U.S. State to then re-legalize medical marijuana use for people suffering from AIDS, cancer, and other serious illnesses. A similar bill was passed in Arizona the same year. This was followed by the passage of similar initiatives in Alaska, Colorado, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Washington D.C., Hawaii, Maryland, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

1997 CE

The American Office of National Drug Control Policy commissioned the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to conduct a comprehensive study of the medical efficacy of cannabis therapeutics. The IOM concluded that cannabis is a safe and effective medicine, patients should have access, and the government should expand avenues for research and drug development. The federal government completely ignored its findings and refused to act on its recommendations.

1997 - 2001 CE

In direct contradiction to the IOM recomendations, President Clinton, continuing the Regan and Bush "war on drugs" era, began a campaign to arrest and prosecute medical cannabis patients and their providers in California and elsewhere.

1999 CE

Hawaii and North Dakota unsuccessfully attempt to legalize hemp farming. The U.S. DEA reclassifies dronabinol as a schedule III drug, making the medication easier to prescribe while marijuana itself continues to be listed Schedule I as having "no accepted medical use."

2000 CE

Legalization initiative in Alaska fails.

2001 CE

Britain's Home Secretary, David Blunkett, proposes relaxing the classification of cannabis from a class B to class C. Canada adopts federal laws in support of medical marijuana, and by 2003 Canada becomes the first country in the world to approve medical marijuana nation-wide.

2001 - 2009 CE

Under President G.W. Bush the U.S. federal government intensified its "war on drugs" targeting both patients and doctors across the state of California.

2005 CE

Marc Emery, a Canadian citizen and the largest distributor of marijuana seeds into the United States from approximately 1995 through July 2005 was on the FBI #1 wanted drug list for years and was eventually indicted by the U.S. DEA. He was extradited from Canada for trial in the U.S. in May 2010.

2009 CE

President Obama made steps toward ending the very unsuccessful 20-year "war on drugs" initiated during the Regan administration by stating that individual drug use is really a public health issue, and should be treated as such. Under his guidance, the U.S. Justice Department announced that federal prosecutors will no longer pursue medical marijuana users and distributors who comply with state laws.

2010 CE

Marc Emery of Vancouver, BC, Canada, was sentenced on September 10 in a U.S. District Court in Seattle to five years in prison and four years of supervised release for "conspiracy to manufacture marijuana" (eg. selling marijuana seeds).

2010 CE

Proposition 19 to legalize marijuana in California is placed back on the ballet (named The Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010). Current voter poles suggest that the proposition has about 50% population support and will likely win or loose by a margin of only 2%.

October 2010 CE

Just weeks before the November 02 California election on Prop. 19 Attorney General Eric Holder said federal authorities would continue to enforce U.S. laws that declare the drug is illegal, even if voters approve the initiative, stating "we will vigorously enforce the (Controlled Substances Act) against those individuals and organizations that possess, manufacture or distribute marijuana for recreational use."

November 2010 CE

California Proposition 19, also known as the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010, was narrowly defeated by 53.6% of the vote. This would have legalized various marijuana-related activities in California, allowing local governments to regulate these activities, permitting local governments to impose and collect marijuana-related fees and taxes, and authorizing various criminal and civil penalties.

November 2012 CE

The States of Colorado and Washington legalize marijuana / cannabis for recreational use; promises are made to the people that these new initiatives will have no impact on medical marijuana in those states. The country of Uruguay legalizes marijuana / cannabis for recreational use. The US District of Columbia decriminalizes personal use and possession of marijuana / cannabis.

July 7, 2014 CE

Cannabis City becomes Seattle's very first legal marijuana shop for over-the-counter purchase & recreational use. This generated world-wide media attention and a serious discussion over the legalization of marijuana and a possible end to the American "drug war." The first purchase, by Deb Green a 65-year old marathon-running grandmother from Ballard, is part of the collection of the Museum of History and Industry in Seattle, Washington.

November 2014 CE

The States of Alaska and Oregon legalize marijuana / cannabis for recreational use; the States of California, Nevada, Arizona, Hawaii and Massachusetts all begin to draft legalization legislation.

July 24, 2015 CE

With the passage of Senate Bill 5052 Washington State medical marijuana comes fully under the control of the newly re-named Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB).

Marijuana

HISTORY

Marijuana, also known as cannabis or pot, has a long history of human use. Most ancient cultures didn’t grow the plant to get high, but as herbal medicine, likely starting in Asia around 500 BC. The history of cannabis cultivation in America dates back to the early colonists, who grew hemp for textiles and rope. Political and racial factors in the 20th century led to the criminalization of marijuana in the United States, though its legal status is changing in many places.

The 6,000 Year History of Medical Cannabis

VISUAL CAPITALIST

Today’s infographic comes to us from MedReleaf, and it focuses on the medical uses of cannabis discovered by many cultures over time. With uses dating back to Ancient empires such as Rome, Egypt, and China, it helps to put into perspective recent legal and cultural developments regarding cannabis on a broader historical scale.

History of Marijuana: An All Encompassing Journey Through the Ages

GREENCAMP

Cannabis has been used throughout the ages by many ancient civilizations and while the longevity of the relationship between humans and marijuana is already pretty much common knowledge among cannabis aficionados, the precise details are still relatively unknown, especially for the younger generations of weed smokers.

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