With marijuana legalization at the frontline of many debates, it is helpful to understand the history behind the now illegal drug. Understanding where it came from, how it came to be illegal, along with its potentially positive and negative effects will help us make important decisions for our future.


According to Narconon, marijuana has been used as a tool to achieve euphoria since 2737 B.C., where it was written about in a Chinese medical reference. It is believed to have spread to India, Northern Africa, and Europe by 500 A.D. When first written about, marijuana was used to treat absent-mindedness, gout, malaria, and rheumatism. Emperor Shen Nung made mention of marijuana’s power of intoxication, but its medicinal properties were thought to be of more importance. In other countries, such as India and Persia, and in Northern Africa, it was used mostly for recreational purposes.


Marijuana didn’t make its way to America until 1545, when the Spanish introduced it. The English began growing the crop in 1611 in Jamestown, commercially and as a source for fiber. Hemp soon replaced cotton as one of the biggest cash crops in the southern United States. Recreational use of marijuana didn’t show up in America until the 1920s, and it is believed this is largely due to Prohibition. It began to show up in jazz clubs, and “tea pads,” or marijuana clubs became popular in all major American cities. There was no legal ramifications for these clubs and users because marijuana wasn’t illegal. In fact, it was even prescribed as a treatment for nausea, rheumatism, and labor pains.


It wasn’t until the 1930s that authorities began to consider marijuana a dangerous, addicting, and powerful substance. They portrayed it as a “gateway” drug, claiming it could lead users to becoming addicted to narcotics. In 1970, the Controlled Substances Act classified marijuana as a Schedule I drug, meaning it had the highest abuse potential and was not approved for any medical use. Other Schedule I drugs include heroin and LSD.


The “war on drugs” supported by Reagan and Bush administrations created strict laws for possession of marijuana, particularly when attempted to smuggle across the Mexican-American border of the United States. In 1975, the Mexican government made a deal to rid their country of its marijuana crops by spraying paraquat, a toxic herbicide on all crops. After this, Mexico was no longer the main supplier of marijuana—Colombia was.


For a while, marijuana use in the United States declined, but it reemerged in the early 1990s, when it became popular amongst teenagers. Many people are currently fighting for its legalization especially for its medicinal properties, and its been legalized in several states over the past several years. Some states have even legalized its recreational use, like Colorado. There have been positive reports since, but it is also important to recognize marijuana’s potential negative effects for drug abusers.


Dealing with marijuana abuse can be difficult. Call Treatment Now today for professional help with any questions.

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