And now we have a bit of history.

Before the American ban

Marijuana is indigenous to Central and South Asia.

In 2900 BCE, Fu Hsi, Chinense emperor, described weed as very popular among his people.

The first official verified use of marijuana, also in China, dated back in 2,727 BCE, when emperor Shen Nung described its healing properties. It was given to people for…

  • Constipation
  • Gout
  • Abnormal menstruation
  • Rheumatism
  • Malaria

Evidence also suggests the substance was used for its hallucinogenic state, to communicate with supernatural beings.


In ancient India, around 1500 BCE, the plant was documented as sacred in Hindu culture. The Vedas of holy Hindu scripture, referrs to it as “divine nectar”. It was thought to help people avoid evil, one of the five most exalted herbs.

On a more scientific note, ancient Indian people took it for…

  • Insomnia
  • Mania
  • Whooping cough
  • Headaches
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Tuberculosis

The Book of Exodus, around 1450 BCE, reference holy oil made from marijuana.

Marijuana use spread far and wide, relatively fast, to all corners of the Western world and beyond. It’s been used and written about by all kinds and levles of people, including emperors, sacred and medicinal officials, and some of the world’s most excellent minds.

Galen, the ancient Roman “father of Western medicine”, considered marijuana a social lubricant.

Medieval villages oftentimes used weed for coughs, cancer, and jaundice.

Muslim use of the herb in the medieval era covered…

  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Epilepsy
  • Pain
  • Inflammation

By 1213 BCE, ancient Egyptians used cannabis to battle enemas, inflammation, and glaucoma

About 200 years later, marijuana mixed with milk, dubbed “bhang”, started to be used in India as an anaesthetic.

In Africa, starting about 600 years ago, cannabis started to be used against…

  • Asthma
  • Fever
  • Dysentery
  • Pain

It was also ingested in social and religious settings.

In colonial times, European explorers relied heavily on hemp to build ships that they could sail extra far. It was heavily used in making ropes, nets, bowstrings, paper, and clothes. People ate its seeds for their high nutritious value. The Western world would commonly use weed for pain in the days before aspirin. All kinds of officials, down to George Washington himself, grew and used the plant.

It featured prominently in many so-called “patent medicines”. These preparations, whch proliferated across America until the early 20th century, could be anything from poisons, to snake oil, to compilations of effective drugs. Below is an example.

Cannabis was also marketed more directly

The American ban

After alcohol was severely restricted by the 18th amendment, many turned to weed. When the 18th was repealed, the alcohol prohibitionists had nothing to fight against.

Also, a man, William Hearst, had at around the same time invested heavily in trees used for paper. Hemp competed for that purpose, and was a far superior option. So Hearst launched a campaign against it.

He first led the public to associate the plant with Mexicans, referring to it as “marijuana” instead of “marihuana”. Hearst had stories printed about Mexican immigrants becoming lawless and crazy and desecrating the United States while on the drug. Furthermore, a series of propaganda movies in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s painted marijuana as a very dangerous substance. These include Reefer Madness, Devil’s Harvest,  and Marijuana: Weed with Roots in Hell.


States have created their own laws. And, another such source…one more! Several have legalized recreational weed. Many more have legalized its use as a medicine.

Despite marijuana still being illegal in the vast majority of the world, about 160,000,000 people use it regularly. This is partly because many areas that officially deem it illegal don’t make efforts to squash its use. Back in December 2011, in a state that hadn’t approved medical marijuana, a few friends and I were caught with an eighth (3.5 grams) in our car. The police told us to stamp it into the ground. We were given a ticket for our busted taillight, then walked away.

Sources:,,, Uppers, Downers, All Arounders: Physical and Mental Effects of Psychoactive Drugs,, Cannbidiol: pharmacology and potential therpuetic role in epilepsy and other neuropsychiatric disorders,