“Weed” is not just the smoking material most people think of.
“Weed” is actually cannabis, which is one of the most versatile plants known to man.
Don’t take my word for it – here’s what how the history of weed looks like…
Weed in Ancient History
There are numerous accounts of the use of cannabis in prehistoric times. For example, hemp (which is the same as cannabis, only the names differ) was used as the first fabric known to man. Sometime around the year 7000-8000 BC, the first fabric is supposedly woven from dried hemp.
Around the year 6000 BC hemp seeds were used frequently as food in China (due to its high nutritional profile of amino-acids and healthy fats).
In year 2727 BC Chinese people start using it as medicine for various health disorders.
Meanwhile, in India cannabis starts being called “sacred grass” in the Hindu sacred text Arthava-Veda. It is also named one of the top five sacred plants of India. Cannabis was used as an offering to Shiva and also as a medication for various health issues around the year 1200 to 800 BC.
In the year 1500 BC the European people called Scythians started to cultivate cannabis for weaving cloth. By the year 700 to 300 BC the status of the plant had been elevated to great heights so much that cannabis seeds were left as offering in their royal tombs.
Only around the year 500 AD cannabis spreads to Europe, being brought from the nomadic people from Asia and Africa.
In the same period there is a mention of the therapeutic and spiritual properties of cannabis in the Jewish sacred book Talmud.
The History of Weed in the New World
In the 1492, Christopher Columbus brings Cannabis sativa to the New World – America. This was a very exciting period for everyone involved and hemp was a part of it. It was so exciting for everyone that in 1619 there was a very interesting law promoted in the colony of Jamestown, Virginia.
According to this law, every settler was required to grow cannabis due to the fact that it was a valuable commodity used in trading. It was not compulsory, it was required. Growing cannabis was required of them by law. Let that sink in for just a moment.
By 1797, cannabis was so popular that President George Washington had cannabis as his primary crop at Mount Vernon. Thomas Jefferson grew hemp as a secondary crop at Monticello.
In the same period, hemp started being demonized by Napoleon in Europe. He declared a total prohibition of hemp in Egypt after he realized that many of the Egyptian lower class were compulsive smokers, which did not make them dependable as labor force.
In 1876, a historical diplomatic gesture was recorded. The Sultan of Turkey offers cannabis as a gift to the US. Several years later, Turkish smoking parlors open up by the dozens in the north-east United States.
Cannabis had its role in alleviating royal pains as well. In 1891 Queen Victoria was prescribed cannabis in order to soothe her menstrual cramps.
Henry Ford was a revolutionary in his own way, creating the first automobiles at the beginning of the 20th century. It might surprise you to know that the first model T of Ford Company was built from hemp plastic and running on hemp ethanol as fuel.
The History of Weed Prohibition
It is also in the 20th century when the legal madness around cannabis begins. The state pf California passed the first state marijuana law in 1913. However, it was largely overlooked because it specifically addressed “preparations of hemp, or loco weed”. Other state anti-marijuana laws were passed in Utah in 1915, in Texas in 1919, Louisiana in 1924 and New York in 1927.
By the year 1928, recreational use of cannabis was banned in Great Britain as well. In 1937 the Federal Law bans the use of marijuana. From here on, things escalated even quicker.
Harry J. Anslinger was a prohibitionist who became the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics in 1930. He held the position until 1962. Anslinger declared war on drugs and effectively shaped America’s views about marijuana through the manipulative use of mass-media and public opinion.
Ever since that period there was formal resistance to this kind of absurd prohibition. Fiorello La Guardia was, at the time, the mayor of New York. He boldly spoke out against the Marijuana Tax Stamp Act, saying the majority of Americans did not want the law and that it should be abolished.
He was skeptical of the government’s claims and propaganda touting marijuana as a dangerous, evil, killer narcotic and so on. La Guardia commissioned a six-year study by a group of 31 impartial scientists to conclude whether cannabis was truly harmful or not. After an in-depth scientific analysis, researchers concluded that marijuana does not cause violent, psychotic episodes and that it is not responsible for anti-social behavior, does not cause uncontrollable sexual urges and does not alter a person’s core personality structure.
In other words, there was clear evidence that cannabis was safe to use and that the whole prohibition was absurd. However, things escalated even more.
In 1944, this scientific commission published a report of the findings, scientifically disproving all negative propaganda about the effects of consuming marijuana. Once again, Anslinger used his connections with the press to discredit this scientific report and destroyed every copy of the report he could find. He then successfully blocked any further research by restricting the availability of marijuana.
This was happening while the US Military was using marijuana as a “truth serum” in the Second World War.
By 1965, statistics show that at least 1 million Americans have tried marijuana. By 1972, that number increased to 24 million.
In the 1980s, President Reagan started the “war on drugs”. Every 38 seconds someone was being arrested for breaking the cannabis law. It is in the same period that the DEA was formed.
In 1996 cannabis is legalized if used for medical reasons in California. Right now, cannabis is America’s #1 crop in terms of profit, rendering at least $36 billion dollars per year. What is very interesting is that a huge amount of money is also spent in the way against the same plant which brings in so much money.
Let’s take a look at some statistics. Between 1937 and 1947, the American government spent $220 million on the war against drugs. (this was happening during the Second World War, mind you)
Between 1948 and 1963, the cost of this “war” on marijuana alone escalated to $1.5 billion. From 1964 to 1969 the government spent $9 billion on the war against marijuana, a price tag that continues to rise.
However, things are changing. Numerous other states and countries have started to acknowledge the medicinal effects of cannabis and it seems that cannabis will enjoy a brighter and a more open future.