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Where Did it Start! Timeline of Marijuana in the USA

Be the part of this exciting journey of marijuana in the USA which is full of bumps and anticlimaxes as well.

Timeline of Marijuana in the USA

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From being a banned thing to becoming legalized, marijuana has come a long way in the USA.

There was a time when owning marijuana carried a sentence of 2-10 years with a penalty of up to $20,000. But the things have changed now. Recreational marijuana is legal in nine states while medical marijuana has been legalized in 29 states. 64% Americans support the legalization of weed across the USA. Many scientific researches came into light backing the medicinal benefits of marijuana.

Here we celebrated the long and complicated journey of marijuana in the USA with all milestones.

1600-1890s: Hemp Production was backed by the Government

The government supported the marijuana production in the 17th century. But this was for the production of sails, rope and clothing.

In 1619, marijuana cultivation was made mandatory for farmers by the Virginia Assembly. Besides, the exchanging of hemp as a legal tender in Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania was approved. And the marijuana production was soaring during the Civil War. From clothing to OTC medications, hemp was a common ingredient in most materials that time.

1906: The Passing of the Pure Food and Drug Act

The act required all product containing cannabis be labeled appropriately.

1920s: When the “Recreational Use” of Marijuana was Introduced

In the backdrop of the Mexican Revolution of 1910, the USA was swarmed with the Mexican immigrants. And these people introduced the recreational use of marijuana to the Americans. In fact, the drug was associated with the identity of the immigrants and their crimes.

1930s: When the Things Started Going against Marijuana in the USA

During the Great Depression, America saw a rapid rise in unemployment rate while witnessed public agitation and fear of Mexican immigrants.

This fanned public and governmental concern about the abuse of marijuana. Many reports associated marijuana with violence, crime and other unusual behaviour. This led 29 states to ban marijuana by 1931.

Here is the moment when marijuana was turned into illegal and immoral drug.

Meanwhile, Federal Bureau of Narcotics or FBN was created and its first commissioner, Harry Jacob Anslinger played vital role in the prohibition of marijuana. He was remained in that post until 1962.

1936: Release of Reefer Madness:

Reefer Madness was the propaganda film that showed how taking marijuana could turn white citizens into criminals.

1937: Marijuana Tax Act:

Marijuana Tax Act was proposed by Congress to criminalize marijuana and its possession.

1940s: “Hemp for Victory”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture had to launch “Hemp for Victory” program to encourage the farmers to produce marine cordage, parachutes and other army necessities during World War II. By 1943, American farmers harvested 375,000 acres of hemp.

1944: When Marijuana Was Considered Less Dangerous…

New York Academy of Medicine released an extensively researched report considering that taking weed did not trigger violence, insanity or sex crimes, or causes addiction.

1950s: But Stricter Laws Were Ahead…

The decade of 50s saw the law getting stricter for marijuana related offenses. The first offense of marijuana possession meant 2-10 years with a penalty of up to $20,000

1960s: Marijuana Found Welcome in US Upper Class

Despite the strict laws, the use of marijuana was increasing among elite class in the USA. The reports made under the commission of Presidents Kennedy and Johnson found that marijuana use didn’t lead to violence or addiction of other drug.

1970s: Repeal and Categorization of Marijuana

Most of the mandatory penalties were repealed. Marijuana was categorized separately from other drugs. The mandatory federal sentences for possession of small amounts of marijuana were abolished.

1973: Oregon became the first State to Decriminalize Cannabis

Oregon was the first state to decriminalize cannabis, limiting the penalty for up to one ounce to a $100 fine. By 1978, 10 more states have decriminalized marijuana, including Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, and Nebraska

1976: Parent’s Agitation for Criminalizing Marijuana

Many conservative parents’ groups started lobbying for stricter laws against marijuana and the prevention of its use by teenagers. Some of these groups like DEA and the NIDA were monumental in War on Drugs during 1980s.

1986: Anti-Drug Abuse Act-Mandatory Sentences:

During the reign of President Reagan, possession of 100 marijuana plants would carry the same penalty as possession of 100 grams of heroin.

1996: California Allowed Medicinal Use of Cannabis:

California legalized the use and sale of medicinal marijuana for the patients suffering from cancer, AIDS and other diseases.

2000-2011: Over Dozen States Legalized Medicinal Marijuana

2012: Washington and Colorado Were the First Two States to Decriminalize the Recreational Use of Marijuana

2018: Recreational Marijuana is legal in 9 US states while Medical Marijuana is legal in 29 states.

Bottom Line:

Marijuana has a bumpy journey in the USA. The harm or benefits of the drug are purely based on its usage. Marijuana is a potent remedy for many diseases;therefore its medical use should be encouraged.