The History of Cannabis Use in the US

A Look Back at the History of Cannabis in Our Country

Cannabis is a trending topic in America these days. It seems like every day you hear more of your coworkers and friends discussing the CBD oil that dissipates their stress and combats their post-workout soreness. In the news, you hear more about approved marijuana laws and talk from more government officials promising future legalization. Of course, cannabis wasn’t always the positive talk of the town. Throughout its presence in the United States, cannabis has gone through a wild ride, and the opinions and laws around it have been ever changing. Take a look back at the history of cannabis in our country and see how far the popular plant has come since its earlier days.

1619

1619

Back in the 1600s, cannabis plants were popular, and partially mandatory, for farmers to grow. Hemp was extremely important in those days, providing material to make clothing, rope, and other common items. Once cotton became more accessible, it became the preferred material, and hemp quickly slid into the background.
1930

1930

During the prohibition era, marijuana consumption was typically only a part of low-income communities. Looking for a new target, bureaucrats turned their attention to marijuana, and started to ban it indefinitely.
1937

1937

The Marijuana Tax Act passed legislation. Due to this law, possession of marijuana was now criminalized.
1950s

1950s

Think back to the 1950s and the image of the suburbs, “traditional” families and a booming United States. At the same time of this cultural shift post World War II, marijuana started gaining traction from teenagers. The government grew concerned by its new popularity amongst young people and began framing the drug as a quick gateway to petty crime and a drug addiction.
1951-1956

1951-1956

New federal laws came in place which enacted mandatory sentences for drug-related offenses. Marijuana was included in the acts, and a first-offensive possession now resulted in a minimum sentence of 2-10 years, as well as a fine up to $20,000.
1960s

1960s

This decade brought with it the popularity for marijuana in the upper middle class. In this decade and the next, marijuana became more widely used as a recreational substance than ever before.
1973

1973

The US Drug Enforcement Agency, also known as the DEA, came into creation.
1976

1976

A group of conservative parents began lobbying for stricter laws against marijuana, viewing it as a complete epidemic from teenagers at the time.
1996

1996

California was the first state to legalize marijuana for medicinal use, setting an example for other states in the US for years to come.
2012

2012

Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana for recreational use for state residents and visitors over the age of 21.
2016

2016

By now, 28 states plus Washington D.C. legalized marijuana for medicinal uses.
2018

2018

Present day, recreational marijuana is the least taboo it’s ever been. Adoption of state legal recreational marijuana laws are rapidly becoming a possible reality for more states. According to Business Insider, at the end of 2018, ten states have legalized the recreational use of marijuana: Alaska, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia. At the same time, 32 states plus the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana.

The cannabis timeline doesn’t end here. 2019 is expected to bring new changes on cannabis laws from states all over the country. The cannabis plant has come a long way since its introduction to the New World, and it still has a long way to go.

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