Commercial crop during colonial period — source of fiber; important export
According to his diary, George Washington grew hemp at his plantation in Mount Vernon. One passage indicates that he grew at least some cannabis with high THC content.
According to farming diaries.
Report in Boston Medical and Surgical Journal
"The outbreak of the Mexican Revolution in 1910 sent waves of immigrants into the southern border regions of the United States, inspiring animosity at a time when white supremacy and nativism were ascendant in much of the nation."
"Marijuana smoking distinguished some of the Mexicans and provided a vehicle for police harassment of a scorned minority group."
Possible response to prohibition. "Tea pads," or marijuana clubs, sprang up in major cities. Because the patrons were not disruptive, they were not considered a social threat and they did not encounter any resistance from authorities.
They sought to portray marijuana as a dangerous and powerfully addictive drug.
Cannabis is listed in the United States Pharmacopeia during this era. It became available in American pharmacies after its introduction to western medicine by William O'Shaughnessy. Listed as being useful for the treatment of labor pains, nausea, rheumatism, and neuralgia, among other diseases and conditions.
Fueled by anti-Chinese sentiment, San Francisco passed legislation outlawing opium dens made popular by the Chinese.
"In a brief review, the Pacific Pharmacists commented that hasheesh 'seemed to appeal to the oriental mind' - not exactly a ringing endorsement in a state rife with anti-Asian prejudice."
Mainly targeting opium but lumping in cannabis—this is ostensibly the first anti-cannabis legislation in the United States.
"Harper's Magazine... describes hashish-house in New York frequented by large clientele, including males and females of 'the better classes.' It goes on to say that parlors also existed in Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, and especially New Orleans - but fails to mention cities further west."
Products containing the substance required labeling with a disclaimer.
"That for the purposes of this Act an article shall also be deemed to be misbranded... if the package fail to bear a statement on the label of the quantity or proportion of any alcohol, morphine, opium, cocaine, heroin, alpha or beta eucaine, chloroform, cannabis indica, chloral hydrate, or acetanilide, or any derivative or preparation of any such substances contained therein."
"Fueled by Progressive Era faith in government supervised moral reform and growing prohibitionist sentiment."
'The Harrison Anti-Narcotics Act of 1914 outlawed opium, under the delusion...that convincing the Chinese that America was serious about stopping opiate addiction would lead to trade relations...In truth, passage of the Harrison Anti-Narcotics Act was unnecessary, irrelevant, and did not lead to reestablishing trade with China. Technically, the Act did not outlaw opiates or cocaine; it only forced the people distributing them to register with the federal government and heavily taxed the transfer of ownership."
Appointed to Federal Bureau of Narcotics by Treasury Secretary Andrew W. Mellon. Subsequently begins propaganda campaign against marijuana in which he portrayed blacks and mexicans as the peddlers of "the Killer Marijuana," a moniker so derived because of its supposed effect as a provocateur of criminal behavior.
"By 1936, eighteen states enacting the Uniform Narcotics Act included sanctions against marijuana possession."
"Federal marijuana prohibition began in 1937, when the Bureau of Narcotics convinced Congress to pass the Marijuana Tax Act, restricting possession of the drug to authorized medical and industrial users."
Classified marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, i.e. having the relatively highest abuse potential and no accepted medical use, along with heroin and LSD.
"Zero tolerance" climate of the Reagan and Bush administrations resulted in passage of strict laws and mandatory sentences for possession of marijuana.