From the arrival of the British to its mainstream use before being outlawed in the 1930s, up to present day legalization, cannabis has a long and storied history in the United States.
1611: The arrival
King James I make the production of hemp mandatory in the American colony of Virginia. Hemp was used mostly for the rigging of English war ships.
1800s: Cannabis tinctures available in pharmacies
Cannabis tinctures are common in American pharmacies. The introduction Aspirin takes over the market for cannabis tinctures.
Cannabis becomes more and more linked to crime and Mexican immigrants; fueled by anti-Mexican sentiment, states begin to outlaw cannabis.
1936: Reefer Madness
The movie Reefer Madness is released, a propagandistic film that told parents and children how cannabis ruined lives.
1937: The beginning of full prohibition
The federal government outlaws cannabis completely.
1944: LaGuardia Report
New York City mayor Fiorello LaGuardia wrote a report titled The Marihuana problem in the City of New York, concluding that dangers of cannabis were largely exaggerated or untrue.
1951: Boggs Act
The Boggs Act establishes minimum prison sentences of 2-5 years for possession of cannabis. These penalties will only increase later on.
1970: Schedule I classification
Controlled Substances Act classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, a category reserved for drugs like heroin and cocaine, associated with severe psychological dependence with no medical value.
1991: The first dispensary opens in San Fransisco
California’s first medical marijuana dispensary, the Cannabis Buyers Club, opens in San Fransisco by Dennis Peron to help those suffering from AIDS.
1996: California passes Proposition 215
Thanks to the efforts of Dennis Peron, Jack Herer, and countless others, Proposition 215 makes California the first state to legalize medical marijuana, eventually leading to many other states following suit.
2007: Oaksterdam University
Oaksterdam University opens to teach students proper growing techniques, how to set up dispensaries and how to navigate California law.
2012: Colorado votes yes to recreational
Colorado passedAmendment 64 on November 6, 2012. The commercial sale of recreational cannabis to the general public began on January 1, 2014, at licensed dispensaries. By April 2016, 62 of Colorado’s 271 cities and towns and 22 of the state’s 64 counties had adopted some form of recreational cannabis regulation.
2016: Cannabis wins the election
While some may still be questioning the new leader of the country, and wondering what exactly went wrong, at least (most) states saw sense when it came to voting for cannabis legalization, both recreationally and medically.
California, Massachusetts, Nevada, Maine all voted yes to recreational cannabis. Florida, Montana, Arkansas, North Dakota all voted to extend their medical legislation. The only state that voted against was Arizona.
Looking ahead: January 1, 2018
Proposition 64 legalized cannabis in a state with the sixth largest economy in the world. To put it in perspective, that’s a larger economy than France. The world is watching to see what happens when recreational cannabis becomes legal from January 1, 2018.