A History of Cannabis

In preparation of the international and notorious 4/20 cannabis 'holiday' later this month, we decided a nice primer might be taking a look at the long and arduous journey cannabis aka weed, marijuana and hemp, has taken to land on retail shelves and bring not only awareness--but relief to a nation and world.

Even to this day where consumers can simply order online and get a delivery like pizza--see what we did there--some parts of the country (and definitely some parts in the world) still have bans and stigmas surrounding the magical plant. To understand this mix up of roller coaster support, we look to the beginning.

The global history of cannabis closely follows migration patterns, conquests, and trade routes throughout history. The plant originated in Central Asia and spread quickly throughout the world. The first case of cannabis consumption is attributed to the Chinese herbalist, Emperor Shen Nung. Around 2700 BC, he categorized more than 365 medicinal herbs, many of which remain in use for Eastern medicine practices today.

Scythians introduced the plant to Iran and Anatolia between 2000 and 1400 BC as they roamed the Altai Mountains, which later became part of the Silk Road. As the Silk Road began to formally take shape, cannabis was quickly introduced to Greece, Egypt, and Africa. Cannabis arrived in Spain after the Moorish invasion in the 8th century and Morocco remains one of the world’s largest producers of hashish. Spaniards brought cannabis to the Americas in the mid-1500s, where it was grown on North American plantations for rope, paper, and other fiber-based products. Jamestown settlers even imposed fines on those who didn’t produce hemp in the early 1600s. Both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp and cannabis once enjoyed widespread global acceptance.

In the early 1900s, the attitude within the United States of America toward cannabis took a pointed turn thanks to a combination of political, cultural and financial factors. American legislation prohibiting marijuana started popping up at the state level, beginning with a ban by Massachusetts in 1911. Cannabis users in the early 1900s consisted mostly of Mexican immigrants who arrived in the United States during the Mexican Revolution from 1910 to 1920, African-American jazz musicians in and around New Orleans, and Caribbean immigrants and bohemians north of New Orleans. The term used by Mexican immigrants during this time was “marihuana,” a word propagandists would later bastardize and use to encourage cannabis prohibition. Numerous states passed cannabis-prohibitive laws on the books by the time alcohol prohibition was repealed in 1933. By 1937, the American propaganda campaign had successfully woven misinformation and paranoia into the fabric of the cannabis conversation throughout the world.

Against the recommendation of the American Medical Association, the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 was passed into law. In the decades that followed, harsher legislation, like the Boggs Act of 1951, resulted in stricter penalties for cannabis-related offenses. The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 was overturned in 1969, though in the following year, President Richard Nixon signed into law the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). The CSA deemed cannabis as having “no accepted medical use” and included additional restrictions that classified cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug, greatly reducing medical and scientific research of cannabis. In 1971, President Nixon declared a war on drugs and later established the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and in 1972 appointed the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse. Since its inception in 1971, the war on drugs has cost the United States more than $1 trillion and counting and is considered to be an economic and criminal justice failure.

Due to the sustained efforts of many cannabis legalization advocates, scientists, doctors, researchers, business operators and politicians, the perception of cannabis around the world has continued to evolve.

This amazing plant is usually referred to by names such as: weed, marijuana, reefer, ganja, pot, dank and bud. However, at HERB, we prefer using the proper scientific term, cannabis.

Under prohibition, for the greater part of century, cannabis culture developed in the shadows of the

illegal underground marketplace. From cultivation to infusion and extraction technology, many of the tools and techniques used today were covertly developed by those who came before us. Despite so much general awareness, there was still a lack of reliable information about, and safe access to, cannabis products.​

As the perception of the plant moved from being a harmful drug to a helpful medicine, a wave of policy change came over the country. California became the first state to legalize medical use in 1996 and 20 years later, legalized recreational use in 2016. Though somewhat arduous for the past 2 years due to regulation, this legal protection has allowed cannabis businesses of all sorts to legally create and sell cannabis products. Due to the increasing demand for safe access to cannabis, new types of services continue to be developed in an effort to please consumers.

At HERB, we focus primarily on creating the best cannabis delivery experience possible. While delivery hasn’t always been around, it’s an amazing tool for patients and recreational consumers to access quality cannabis products in a safe and convenient manner. While common sense regulation on cannabis delivery is still lacking in the state of California, through political activism we hope to illuminate the need for a continual evolution of laws to allow for the most consumer friendly regulations possible.

After all, the people who have chosen to consume this magnificent plant are where this story begins and ends.

Author Credits:

Mike loves writing about cannabis lifestyle hacks, science and interaction. He moved to CA in 2007 and entered the cannabis industry to learn more about this plant that helps him, in turn to help others.

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