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History of Cannabis

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If Cannabis was not the first plant cultivated by humans, it was certainly one of the first. Archeological evidence of Cannabis use by early humans dates back almost 10,000 years to XXXX BCE. This bushy shrub – perhaps first encountered in Central Asia of our early settlements. It’s highly nutritious seeds, and its processed fiber for use in constructing tools for hunting and gathering was enough to endear Cannabis to our ancestors and propagate the plant around the world. In time, it was also discovered that inhaling the fumes of its burned flowers caused a psychoactive effect, which led to other uses - as an intoxicant in spiritual rituals and medicine for various ailments.  


Breeding of Cannabis for different traits, by early farmers, worked especially well because of its genetic complexity and multitude of uses. It could be bred to be long and thin, better for making rope to be used for taming horses or rigging early ships, for example. Or, it could be bred to produce resinous flowers rich with important plant chemicals (ie, phtyo-cannabinoids) to be used for medical and spiritual purposes. Over time, Cannabis adapted to what was needed by the humans growing it, and that adaptability – along with its unsurpassed utility – elevated this plant to its status as one of the most cultivated plants in human history.  

12000 BCE

Following the last Ice Age, the earth begins to warm in the Holocene era and allows humans, and therefore plants, to disperse from their temperate refuges. The deterioration of glaciers of earlier ice ages may have caused a divide in the species of Cannabis into two sub-species (ie, Cannabis sativa L. ssp. sativa and C. sativa L. ssp. Indica). Cannabis sativa L. ssp. sativa (ie, hemp) would emerge in southeastern Europe while C. sativa L. ssp. Indica (ie, marijuana) would emerge in Southern and Central Asia.  

2800 BCE

First written record of cannabis in the pharmacopoeia of Shen Nung, the legendary founder of Chinese medicine, where he calls it one of the Superior Elixirs of Immortality.  

640 CE

The Koran of Islam forbids alcohol but tolerates the use of Cannabis. The Sufis, the mystical branch of Muslims, spread its use across the Arab world and in the poems of Rumi’s teacher Attar, Cannabis is symbolized as a green parrot  

1800'S

Narrow-Leaf Hemp (NLH) Cannabis sativa grows widely in the US and is used to make clothes, sails, and rope.

 

Narrow-Leaf Drug (NLD) Cannabis indica becomes a common ingredient in popular medicines.​  

1841

William O’Shaughnessy, an Irish physician in India, first learns of the medical properties of cannabis. His rediscovery started the modern western scientific study of the cannabis plant.  

1860

The Ohio Medical Society writes the first governmental study of cannabis use on human health. It mostly reads like the solid advice you’d hear from any trustworthy cannabis doctor today.  

1870

Cannabis listed in United States Pharmacopeia for various ailments.  

1925

Despite several attempts to find a reason to ban marijuana use by US soldiers in Panama, The Panama Canal Zone Report issued by the US Army finds cannabis to not be addictive or harmful and recommends no stricter controls to be taken.  

1937

Despite strong opposition from the American Medical Association, the Marihuana Tax Act passes into US law and effectively prohibits hemp production. The act creates a tax but the government never issues any tax stamps. 

Much hay has been made about industrial conspiracies blocking the hemp industry but in Western Europe, hemp production also virtually ceased because of the rise of artificial fibers. 

1942

The Japanese invasion of the Philippines cuts off the US hemp supply and the USDA starts a campaign for it to be grown by farmers including their now-famous film, ‘Hemp for Victory’. It stated, “In 1942, patriotic farmers at the government’s request planted 36,000 acres of seed hemp, an increase of several thousand percent. The goal for 1943 is 50,000 acres of seed hemp.”   

1976

President Ford bans government funding for medical marijuana research but allows pharmaceutical companies to continue their study of synthetic cannabinoid analogues.

 

The Netherlands institute their ‘gedoogbeleid’ (policy of tolerance) towards Cannabis users.

 

After a lengthy lawsuit and a hugely painful series of tests for the effectiveness of Cannabis for his glaucoma, Robert Randall’s medical necessity defense results in the federal government being forced to send him medical marijuana every month under an Investigational New Drug program. 

1988

The DEA’s own administrative law judge Francis Young concludes that ‘marijuana in its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man.’ The DEA ignores its own ruling and the US Senate adds $2.6 billion to federal antidrug funding. 

 

Drs. Allyn Howlett and William Devane discover the CB1 receptor and the science of the endocannabinoid system begins. 

1992

In the lab of Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, the Czech analytical chemist Dr. Lumír Hanuš worked with the American molecular pharmacologist Dr. William Devane discover the first cannabinoid neurotransmitter: Anandamide (AEA). The organic chemist Dr. Aviva Breuer synthesizes it. 

 

The International Cannabinoid Research Society hold their first meeting in Keystone, CO

1993

A second, peripheral cannabinoid receptor (CB2) is identified.

1994

Germany decriminalizes small amounts of Cannabis for personal use.

1995

A second endocannabinoid, 2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), is discovered.

​Ten millionth Cannabis arrest in the United States.

1996

California’s Prop 215 legalizes medical marijuana after the AIDS crisis forced the issue.

2012

Colorado and Washington become the first states to legalize the recreational use of Cannabis.

​The drug Sativex, a mix of THC and CBD derived from the plant, and made by GW Pharmaceuticals is approved in many countries for use against spasticity due to multiple sclerosis, cancer pain, and neuropathic pain.

2013

Uruguay legalizes Cannabis and becomes the first modern nation to do so.

In polls, support of legalizing Cannabis reaches Pew Research reported 52% according to Pew Research and 58% according to Gallup.

2014

The United States Congress passes, and President Obama signs, the Agricultural Act of 2014 (aka the Farm Bill). The 2014 Farm Bill carves out ‘‘industrial hemp’’ as the C. Sativa plant cultivated pursuant to a state’s pilot research program with delta-9 THC concentrations that do not exceed 0.3%. 

The U.S. Justice Department announced a policy to allow recognized Indian tribes to legalize Cannabis on their lands. 

The Rohrabacher–Farr amendment passes into law and prohibits the Justice Department from interfering with the implementation of state medical cannabis laws. Utah became the first state to pass a low-THC, high-CBD medical cannabis law.

2017

Mexico legalizes medical marijuana.

According to Gallup's annual poll, 64% now support the legalization of Cannabis, including a majority of Republicans for the first time.

2017

Mexico legalizes medical marijuana.

According to Gallup's annual poll, 64% now support the legalization of Cannabis, including a majority of Republicans for the first time.

2018

US Farm Bill passes and clearly legalizes hemp and hemp extracts and takes responsibility away from the DEA and hands it to the USDA and the FDA.

​FDA approves Epidolex, a pharmaceutical extract of CBD made from Cannabis, for the treatment of two rare and severe forms of epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, in patients two years and older. The Department of Justice and Drug Enforcement Administration place Epidiolex in schedule V of the Controlled Substances Act, the least restrictive schedule of the CSA.

2020

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves Epidiolex for a new indication - the treatment of seizures associated with tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) in patients one year of age and older.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) de-schedules Epidiolex and no longer deemes it to be a Controlled Substance. Initially, following approval from the DEA in 2018, Epidiolex was listed under Schedule V.