Cannabis: Evolution of Prohibition

Cannabis, also known as marijuana, hemp, weed, among the common names, is a natural psychoactive drug from the Cannabis plant which has been used throughout human history typically used for medical, recreational, and livelihood purposes. Cannabis was most likely the first plants grown and utilized by mankind. The earliest archeological finding of cannabis was found in numerous parts of Eurasia that date back to 5,000 BC.

But during these times cannabis was used for more than just smoking. During these times hemp was used to make shoes, paper, ropes, fabric, and utensils. As far as the spiritual, recreational, and medical elements of cannabis that origin can was discovered in South Asia. Most of the ancient world used cannabis in an abundance for a plethora of reasons. A few of those were China, South Asia, Middle East, Egypt, Rome, and Greece. The America’s did not harvest, use, or have much knowledge about cannabis until the Europeans presenting it to America. As stated, before cannabis was used for more than smoking. In the mid 1600’s hemp was needed not only to make money but to create maritime rope. This rope was made on various farms, in gardens, and valleys and was also cultivated on the farms of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. In addition, to the history in ancient times the people who used cannabis knew of the psychoactive effects. The most prominent element in Cannabis is the psychoactive chemical tetrahydrocannabinol better known as THC. THC is one of the five-hundred compounds found in the plant as well as various cannabidiol scientifically known as CBD.

Although Cannabis was used for thousands of years and cultivated into everyday lifestyle it would soon be prohibited and illegal by law. The first case of cannabis prohibition was by a Muslim leader Soudon Sheikouni in Arabia in 1378. Sheikouni placed an order that all plants be killed, and the cannabis users should receive some form of punishment.

Prohibition of Cannabis.

Almost four hundred years later in the late 1700’s the smoking of Marijuana in the capital of Kingdom of Merina which is now Madagascar was the reason people were climbing Palace walls and killing themselves which led the king to ban the use of cannabis in 1787. Later, some armies would ban it is use because it affected training, memory, and made soldiers lazy. One of those few countries were Napoleon. In 1830, the use of cannabis by slaves led the Council of Rio de Janeiro to ban the plant indefinitely and the use by slaves. During this time, the British had a large population of indentured workers living there and that led to the widespread use of cannabis. With that the British was concerned about the use and what is caused the users to do and banned it from several colonies including Natal (South Africa) in 1870. The British Indian government enforce harsh laws, and completely banned it in the late 19th Century.

Cannabis prohibition grew steadily across the world at a peak high as we moved along in the 20th century. Canada and the United Kingdom sign and treaty at the Hague to officially stop the use, creation, and sells of cannabis in the 1920’s. In the U.S. in 1937, the Marijuana Tax Act prohibited all forms of marijuana including CBD which has no psychoactive effects. But, with the health and medical benefits of marijuana the AMA or the American Medical Association concurred that cannabis could help medical patients. There were several prominent medical figures who gave testimonies that medical cannabis or cannabis in general was not addicting. They also added that the cannabis prohibition would stop all research and benefits of cannabis.

Furthermore, the cannabis prohibition was much more intricate. The ban of the cultivation of cannabis had many thin lines. One of the main reasons why cannabis was prohibited because you could not tell the difference between synthetic fibers and producing industries. But, During WWII the policy was ineffective since hemp cultivation was a huge help in the war effort. The article states, on page 11 “The U.S. government went as far as shooting a short film, Hemp for Victory, to raise awareness for the policy.” The U.S. was so reliant on the drug that they shot a film to not only show but entertain people that cannabis would help win a war on both sides. Right after the war was over the policy reversed back and a new act was passed. The Controlled Substance Act of which made all forms of cannabis under federal law illegal and classifying it as a Schedule I drug which is the deadliest. In simpler terms in that category or classification it is not safe for medical use and will be misused recreationally. Later, the only way to grow hemp was to be licensed under the law more so the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Brief History of Cannabis Legalization.

The Dutch government was the first to decriminalize in 1972 the Dutch classified cannabis as less dangerous and if a person is caught with small amount it is a minor offense and a misdemeanor. The Dutch have tolerated recreational use but never started a cannabis industry.

As technological and medical advancements expanded during the 1970’s and the 1980’s we better understood the psychoactive effects of cannabis and how it affects use physically. As the drug was tested with patients of different medical needs later marijuana was a source of treating pain, improve sleep, cause and appetite, and stop chronic pain. After this medical finding California became the first state to legalize marijuana, soon after Colorado and in the early 2000 Canada became the first state to allow medical use of cannabis. On page 13 of the article it states, “Portugal became the first country to decriminalize all drugs with many exceptions. After followed many countries across the world to revise the laws around marijuana and have some form of it legalized. In the Article on page 13, “It states In the United States 33 U.S. states have legalized some form of medical marijuana and 11 states have legalized some form of adult or recreational marijuana as of April 2020.” This applies to me because in Texas CBD is legal but the legal limit for THC is 3%. Not only is CBD legal but is does not have any psychoactive effects therefore making is safer than weed with THC. With hemp being cultivated in some parts of Texas it is used to create a variety of products for animal and human use as well as products for consumptions.

Federal Statutes.

There are many legal regulations of cannabis that are in the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution. These statutes are for both non-criminal and criminal implications of cannabis commerce. The Controlled Substances Act concocting categories for cannabis and (harmful substances). These categories and or classes range from class I to class V. Cannabis is Schedule I and is in the same category as LSD, heroine and crack. I find this funny because throughout marijuana’s aside from synthetic fibers no one has died or had any life threating effects of long-term use. Marijuana has been used as an essential tool in our lives and has been beneficial yet it is as dangerous as heroine, crack and LSD all of which had killed millions and gotten millions arrested whether they are dealers or users. There are a few regulations that are expressed and clear under the law. On page 15 of the article it states, “Knowingly, or intentionally manufacture or distribute, or dispense or possess with the intent to manufacture, distribute or dispense “marijuana.” Just the fact of having the intent to sell it is important to the law because if it’s illegal and you are selling one you are breaking the law, two no tax on the dollar and three more clauses will follow after. It is very imperative that these laws are understood by both users and dealers because if caught with enough you could be mistaken as a dealer with intent, fined, and imprisoned.

But with a simpler and more straightforward solution(s) the Cannabis complexity and structure can be combined as far as medical and recreational. There can be a national or global regulation and a country state regulation to see if it can be proven effective and beneficial to the people and the industry. In the article’s summary on page 76 it states, “The legacy and recent history of cannabis prohibition and legalization from a hostile and transdisciplinary perspective, including an excursion into a long history of human cannabis use from personal to societal perspectives. This transdisciplinary approach adds another dimension to our analysis of legal complexities resulting from states legalizing cannabis in various ways and at various sped while prohibition continues.


With that being stated from the historical perspectives of cannabis and the evolution cannabis has come along way but is still not where it should be in a sense. Cannabis and the laws of regulation surrounding it should have a balance between each other and a pragmatic policy solution that allows cannabis to be used freely but actual regulations that coincide with the plant itself.

Author • Screenwriter • Cartoonist • Investor • Women enthusiast • College Student • GymStaar• H-Town till I drown.

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