An Overview of the History of Cannabis and its Impact on Law

The first uses of cannabis were documented many years ago. Ancient texts from 3,000 B.C. mention the use of cannabis for various medicinal purposes, including reducing pain and treating depression.

The drug was popular in ancient times and modern societies alike. However, it has only been recently that we have begun to understand the full story behind this plant.

In this blog post, you will learn about how U.S. law has evolved and some interesting facts about the history of cannabis.

So whenever you’re ready to learn more about the evolution of cannabis, keep reading.

The First Mentions of Cannabis

In history, the first mentions of cannabis were in the Vedas, written in the Sanskrit language. The Vedas are a collection of texts that include descriptions and explanations of natural phenomena such as plants, animals, medicines, or even modes of worship.

The first mention specifically mentions Cannabis Sativa and how it is used for medicinal purposes: “A mixture with milk induces sleep; hemp paste is good against stone affliction.”

Interestingly enough, because cannabis was so well known in ancient societies across many cultures, many different names have been given to this plant throughout time.

In India, they called it ganja, while in China, they refer to it as ma Jiang, meaning “cannabis Sativa.” This term has also been translated into English as marijuana or hashish.

Cannabis is not purely a plantation plant. It grows in the wilderness, and it is believed that humans have developed and evolved alongside it. The only reason people can experience any type of effect from cannabis is due to the presence of an endocannabinoid system, which is responsible for many of our bodily functions.

This system is part of our natural evolution, and the cause of it is yet unknown. Nonetheless, it is responsible for things like metabolism, hormone modulation, hunger, and energy.

Modern Uses of Marijuana

While early uses seem pure and simple, recent years have seen a shift towards using cannabis recreationally too, with people smoking joints with friends at parties or even claiming weed helps them work out better.

The legalization of marijuana for recreational use in some states, along with the increasing number of research studies on how it can be used medicinally to help with pain and mood disorders, shows that cannabis is no longer just a plant from antiquity.

In fact, more people now identify themselves as “cannabis users” than ever before: notably higher among millennials, those born between 1980 and 1995.

This may be because they grew up with cannabis as a household item, seeing it more frequently and being exposed to its use at younger ages.

And while the number of people using marijuana is increasing every year, many believe that this drug has no place in society whatsoever. That’s for you to decide! But what does history suggest?

How Has Cannabis Impacted the Law

Cannabis has had a tremendous impact on the current state of the law in relation to itself. For instance, in the United States, there is a drug classification system that has been in place since the Controlled Substances Act of 1970.

When this law was enacted, cannabis was grouped with heroin and LSD, meaning it had no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Hence, it wasn’t safe to put on the market or even possess without legal repercussions.

In the 1990s, things started to change, when a movement known as “medical marijuana” began gaining ground, because some people found relief from conditions like chronic pain from cancer treatment using cannabis.

However, the stigma remained among those who believed that there’s no place for any recreational substance in society whatsoever.

The legalization of marijuana is not something that happened instantly. The slow process of legalization seeped in slowly through the importance of the Farm Bill, which was passed in 2014.

The Farm Bill allowed the cultivation and use of hemp, a type of cannabis plant with only trace amounts of THC, meaning it doesn’t cause psychoactive effects for those who consume it.

The legalization movement has grown stronger over time as more people see marijuana as no different than other drugs without any stigma attached to alcohol. Research studies continue to find new, beneficial effects of this drug.

With evidence that cannabis has tremendous medical potential, the freedom of use has become a topic of second nature. The legalization of cannabis and the discovery of its medical potential went hand in hand.

Is Cannabis, CBD, and THC Legal in All States?

Nonetheless, because the United States is so varied in its policy and regulation, the question of whether cannabis is legal everywhere still remains.

Cannabis is illegal under the federal law of the United States of America, but states are then free to enact their own laws around cannabis, with some still prohibiting it. Meaning, a state can legalize cannabis for medical reasons but not for recreational ones.

According to NORML (a nonprofit dedicated to researching cannabis and educating the public on its benefits), as well as credible research studies, there is evidence that marijuana has tremendous medical potential for treating several conditions, including cancer-related pain, epilepsy, and Crohn’s disease.

And while we all might be more familiarized with THC or Tetrahydrocannabinol, which gives you a psychoactive effect when you consume it (often referred to as a high), it’s important to note that many other cannabinoids, such as CBD (Cannabidiol), are non-psychoactive and don’t provide you with the same “high” feeling.

So is CBD legal in all states 2021? Find out more in the article linked here. With so much potential in regards to healing, it’s surprising that cannabis was not legalized earlier. In any case, it’s understood that the bureaucracy of the entire process is the true obstacle towards quick and efficient progress.

The Somewhat Illegal States

Legalizing marijuana has been an ongoing process since first being banned in 1937 when Congress passed The Marihuana Tax Act. This law was repealed by the governing authorities later. Cannabis is illegal in these states:

  1. Alabama
  2. Arkansas
  3. Georgia
  4. Idaho (except for limited medical use)
  5. Kansas
  6. Kentucky
  7. Utah
  8. West Virginia
  9. Wyoming
  10. Minnesota

In Missouri, the law was overturned by a ballot initiative in November 2018. In Nebraska, the law was repealed by the legislature in 2017 and then signed into law again. In North Carolina, it is legal for medical use only.

Tennessee is the latest state to have its cannabis bill defeated because of fear that it would be a gateway drug to more dangerous substances such as heroin or cocaine.

In Texas, possession may lead to jail time. In Wyoming, possession will carry with it a mandatory prison sentence.

Legal States

In the US, fully legalized cannabis states are Colorado, Maine, and Massachusetts. All passed legislation in November of 2016 to allow recreational use for those over the age of 21.

California legalized marijuana in January of 2018. This makes it the largest state (by population) to do so.

In Alaska, a law was passed in 2018 that allows for the personal use of recreational cannabis. It is also legal in the District Of Columbia (also known as Washington D.C.), Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.

However, Washington State has a very thorough list of rules to follow when it comes to growing and selling marijuana.

This drug’s history and impact on US law are worth exploring further if you’re interested in learning more about how it could change our future or help us reach new heights.

In states where cannabis has been legalized recreationally, adults ages 18 years or older are permitted to purchase up to one ounce at a time from licensed dispensaries with some limitations.

Some jurisdictions require consumers to be given an orientation if they haven’t purchased cannabis before. Both medical and non-medical buyers must register as users with their home dispensary and show identification proving that they are old enough when making a purchase.

Cannabis Making Movements

Humans have used cannabis for thousands of years as medicine, plant fiber, and even clothing. We can see how cannabis affects law through the history that it has had on our society today.

The history is interesting to explore and learn more about if you’re interested in seeing what this drug does to laws, or if you want to know more information about its impact on those who consume it.

If you’re interested in learning more about historical topics, check out some of our related content on the sidebar or down below.

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