Can’t school ya on trees without schooling ya on the roots. Many people only know about cannabis in it’s modern state. As far back as the 1800s, marijuana was not only legal but was used to treat numerous illnesses and life-threatening diseases. If marijuana was seen as a get high drug back then, let’s just say the late eighteen hundreds were absolutely lit.
Picture this. It’s 1852, you’ve caught yourself a bad case of cholera from some bad deer soup or whatever people ate then, life sucks. Food is exiting your body every which way then, duh-you remember you can die in like, hours. You hop on your actual mustang and gallop on over to the nearest pharmacy. Right as you’re about to lose 4 more ounces of bodily fluid, the pharmacist hands you this:
You go home, you take it, not only do you not die, but you feel much better and can get a good night’s rest! So, how does this fairy tale end with us having to fight to legalize it again over a century later? Like, bruh??
So for the next few decades cannabis would be regulated, slightly, but only as medicine if issued by pharmacies and poison if not. Of course, everyone who was enjoying cannabis, whether medicine or poison, wasn’t doing it for medicinal purposes. Puffeth, puffeth, passeth.
Now hemp had been legal in America ever since 1619. But why did it have to be legalized in the first place? Oh, you’re trying to go back, waaaaaay back huh? Ok let’s go. But, quickly, please lol.
Hemp is known as the first plant humans ever cultivated. Research shows China and India being the first sites of hemp cultivation, some 5,000 or more years ago. It was used for clothing, paper, and yup, getting stoned. Meanwhile, in what is now North America, Native Americans had already been growing their own type of hemp but cannabis sativa was introduced by settlers who grew it on their “newfound” land. Like, making strong rope and pants are cool, but they wanted to get high lol. SOOOOOO, the Virginia Assembly made it possible for people to not only consume hemp, but grow it. Matter of fact, hemp was so necessary that it was illegal NOT to grow some Mary Jane…for the struggle lol. After the Civil War, hemp was still being grown domestically but other materials were introduced for fabric, mainly cotton. Cotton was cultivated by slaves brought from Africa and established an entire industry. Cannabis cultivated with higher levels of THC was popular, and near the end of the century smoking pot was a fad; even marijuana parlors operated like modern day lounges.
Hey, we’re about caught up right? Cool. So you’re feeling awesome, smoking your green, then boom, it’s 1910. The Mexican Revolution begins, and Mexican immigrants who use cannabis recreationally flood into America. Well, since this society has always been so historically accepting of other races, they wanted to make sure our friends from the South got a warm welcome. That was sarcasm! Marijuana was now labeled as a drug associated with these new immigrants that were labeled criminals by racist laws and biased research. Boom it’s 1931, and 29 states have already outlawed cannabis and Harry J. Ansliger commissioned the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. BRUH!!!!
Every decade that followed, cannabis would see a thinly-veiled love/hate relationship with America. New bureaus were created, new laws were enacted, propaganda film and ads blossomed. At the same time, research was proving cannabis wasn’t dangerous, celebrities were advocating for legalization, and citizens were discovering the medical benefits. But never again was it considered medicine until 1996, when California passed a law legalizing cannabis use for patients with serious illnesses. Sort of where we are right now in Illinois.
Yup, racism criminalized cannabis. And that is bullcrap. Crap from a bull.
So, if there is a moral to this story, it’s this: Racism ruins everything. Luckily for us, technology, new laws, and education are making great strides in getting every state on board. America needs its medicine back, and it’s called marijuana.
Isn’t history fun?
“Hemp is of first necessity to the wealth & protection of the country.” –Thomas Jefferson