The History of Cannabis Worldwide

10 000 BC: First cultivation of cannabis in China.

2700 BC: Marijuana appears in Chinese writings. According to the legend, the Chinese Emperor Shen Nung would have discovered the capacities of cure of the plant, in particular for the treatment of the rheumatisms, the malaria or the distraction. We find other written traces 1000 years later concerning the treatment of diarrheas, dysentery and to stimulate the appetite.

In 1378: Emir Soudoun Sheikouni forbids the cultivation of cannabis in Egypt and condemns those caught consuming it to have their teeth pulled out. This was the first time that cannabis was banned.

1455 A.D.: The first book printed by Gutenberg, inventor of the printing press, is a Bible that was printed on hemp paper. Indeed, hemp paper was the most common paper at the time.

1484: Pope Innocent VIII condemned the use of cannabis as witchcraft.

1492: Christopher Columbus lands in the Bahamas after a 36-day crossing. The Vikings discovered Canada 500 years earlier. What they had in common was hemp. Ships used hemp for their sails and ropes. Most of the sailors' clothes were also made from hemp.
In Barcelona, the base of the Columbus statute is richly decorated with cannabis leaves. Two stems of cannabis grow from the center of the 60 meter high column towards the feet of Christopher Columbus symbolizing all the help brought by this plant in his perilous expeditions.

1532: The French physician Rabelais mentions the medicinal virtues of marijuana in The Life of Gargantua and Pantagruel. He calls it the Pantagruelion herb.

1545: Spanish sailors bring with them hemp plants to Chile, to use its fibers, also marking the first appearance of the plant in the Americas.

1611: The English introduce hemp in the colony of Jamestown (Virginia), marking the first appearance of the plant in what will become the United States. The hemp fiber will become a strong source of export, especially in its by-products: ropes, grease, oil, paper, etc... Virginia will legislate for the first time in 1619 on hemp: it obliges the farmers to cultivate hemp, under penalty.

1776: Benjamin Franklin writes the constitution of the United States on hemp paper.

1794: George Washington, the first president of the United States of America, grew hemp on his plantation. One of his first measures was: "Make the most of the hemp seed and sow it everywhere".

1798: During the Egyptian campaign, Napoleon discovers the use of cannabis, especially in the less privileged Egyptian classes. The French soldiers return from Egypt with some quantities of marijuana in their luggage. Napoleon bans cannabis completely in France, while its use gradually becomes more popular.

Around 1830: The Irish doctor William O' Shaugnessy, who discovered the marijuana at the Medical college of Calcutta, introduces the marijuana in the Western medical universe. He first tested his preparations on animals, and then treated patients suffering from muscle spasms and pain. He also had positive results in the treatment of diarrhea and vomiting, often fatal symptoms of cholera.

Around 1850: The French authors Gautier and Baudelaire published respectively The Club of the Haschischins and The Artificial Paradises. They meet regularly, with Gérard de Nerval, Victor Hugo, Honoré de Balzac, Eugène Delacroix and many others to consume hashish-based substances. On his side, the physicist Moreau publishes Du Haschisch et de l'aliénation mentale, where he studies the effects of the consumption of cannabis.

1894: The Indian Hemp Drugs Commission brings together Indian and Western doctors to discuss the benefits of medical marijuana. The commission concludes that "moderate use of marijuana causes no harm" and "produces no detrimental effect on the mind. It recognizes, however, that marijuana can result in toxic use, and therefore recommends its prohibition.

1910: The Mexican revolution provoked the departure towards the United States of thousands of migrants. They brought with them a more established culture of recreational marijuana use. After 1910, stories of Mexican immigrants committing violent crimes while high on weed became common in the United States.

1937: In the midst of the Great Depression, massive unemployment hit the underprivileged classes, mainly the black and Mexican community, plunging them into extreme poverty.
Marijuana consumption explodes as well as violence.
President Roosevelt introduces the taxation of all the actors of the hemp industry: importers, producers and industrialists with the Marihuana Tax Act.
The majority of the American pharmaceutical companies stop their production of drugs based on marijuana.

In 1941, the car manufacturer Ford developed the Hemp Body Car, an experimental car whose body was made of hemp fiber. Ford, himself a hemp producer, saw an economic and ecological interest in it. This car ran on hemp ethanol, a fuel refined from the plant's seeds. This car with immense potential will never be produced because of the exorbitant taxes on the Marihuana Tax Act.

1944: The New York Academy of Medicine publishes a report, the La Guardia Committee, and finds that marijuana does not cause insanity or violence, much less addiction, or lead to other stronger drugs.

In the 1960s: Recreational use of marijuana reaches all classes of society, including the middle and upper classes. The commissions of Presidents Kennedy and Johnson again indicate that marijuana does not lead to violence or the use of stronger drugs. Hippies, as well as media like Newsweek or Life, wonder why marijuana is illegal.

1970: The U.S. Congress places marijuana in a "Category 1" drug along with LSD, MDMA, peyote and hallucinogenic mushrooms. This is the most restrictive status, usually reserved for highly addictive drugs with a high potential for abuse. Cocaine, opium, morphine and amphetamines are then classified as "Category 2".

1977: President Jimmy Carter calls for the decriminalization of marijuana, echoing some medical associations such as the American Medical Association and the 11 states that have already decriminalized it.

1986: Reagan reverses the trend and signs the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, which provides mandatory penalties for marijuana-related crimes.

1996: California becomes the first state to legalize the medical use of marijuana. Several other states would follow in the following decades.

2012: Colorado and the State of Washingtion are the first two states to allow the sale and use of recreational marijuana, for people over the age of 21.

Since the 2000s, Uruguay, Canada, Thailand and Malta have decriminalized cannabis use. Other countries, including several European ones, are in the process of relaxing its regulation.