In case you missed them here's part 1 & part 2 of the 3 part series of The History Of Cannabis

Introduction

For nearly as long as cannabis has been used, the intoxicating substance has been banned by cultures and countries around the world… The earliest known prohibition occurred as early as the 1300s - when Soudoun Sheikouni (the emir in Arabia) announced a nationwide ban. At this point, history is still rather blurry and the next piece of the marijuana puzzle is found in 1787, when the Madagascan king made cannabis illegal, threatening the death penalty for offenders! Around the world, similar policies came into effect - with marijuana being banned in Mauritius in 1840. In 1879, the King of Egypt outlawed the importation of cannabis - and by 1890 Greece had also banned hashish. In the same year, Morocco began to strictly regulate marijuana cultivation and trade. 

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By the 19th century, several countries in the Islamic world had also named the substance illicit, as had surrounding countries. Politicians around the world had become fixated with claims that cannabis caused psychotic behaviors. Although in 1894 it was determined that there is no link between cannabis and madness (or mental health) the British government still attempted to ban the plant 4 times prior to the turn of the century. The drug was banned in Jamaica in 1913 for its “demoralising and deplorable” effects on the “natives.” Most of the reasoning behind the demonisation of the plant medicine was rooted in colonialist racism and irrational associations tied to cannabis. By the 20th century, most countries followed in the footsteps of Jamaica, and cannabis use subsequently became controversial. Sweeping restrictions led to the criminalisation of cannabis in hundreds of countries, including Europe and USA. However marijuana had only just surfaced in America, with Mexicans introducing the plant recreationally in the early 1900s. 

The War on Drugs

By this stage there was no dabbling with consuming hashish, and people around the globe had fully embraced smoking roll-ups, in much the same way as we do today. However, by 1928 the League of Nations had enforced an international ban on the substance and cannabis began to be viewed as socially unacceptable. 

Massive social unrest during the Great Depression gave cannabis a bad rap, and public paranoia began to fear what was known as the “evil weed.” 

In 1937, the Marijuana Tax Act became the first American federal law to ban cannabis nationwide. It criminalized the production of both hemp and marijuana. However, the inclusion of hemp as part of this law was heavily disputed, with rumors suggesting that the act was passed with the intention of destroying the hemp industry. 

Samuel Caldwell, a 58 year old farmer, became the first person to be prosecuted with the act and was arrested for selling weed just a day after the act had been passed. 

He was sentenced to four years of “hard labor,” but no sooner had the act been passed than the government backtracked and began to promote hemp cultivation during World War 2. The plant was used to make uniforms, rope and canvas, and America even produced a short film titled “Hemp for Victory” as part of a promotional campaign. 

Across the globe, the UK faced similar challenges, with the rise of the hippy movement sparking the drug culture and causing political mayhem.

By the 1960’s cannabis arrests were on the rise globally, primarily among the young white middle class. This fuelled concerns among the authorities, who had previously associated cannabis with people of color, and feared societal anarchy. In the UK, cannabis came to symbolize anti-mainstream sub cultures and rebelliousness.

Smoking weed became akin to “sticking it to the man” and government officials were livid about it.

By the 1970s America had begun the war on drugs, and in 1971 the British government had classified marijuana as a Class B drug in the Misuse of Drugs Act, a far stricter policy than that of the 1928 ban. The USA began to apply pressure to countries trafficking cannabis right through until the 1980s. 

This included pressurising India and Afghanistan with bribes to eradicate cannabis and opium production. 

Marijuana was listed as a Schedule 1 drug, alongside heroin, ecstasy, cocaine and LSD, claiming that it had “no medicinal uses and a high potential for abuse.” As a result, marijuana became known as the “gateway drug,” and was identified by anti-drugging programs worldwide. 

However, the USA was soon to backtrack again, with the 2018 Farm Bill legalising the wide scale production of industrial hemp. As a result the CBD industry has exploded, and countries around the globe have followed in the footsteps of this global superpower. 

Legalisation

By the late 1900’s cannabis gained renewed attention in the medical arena – specifically for its benefits in cancer and AIDS patients, who are known to experience relief from the plant medicine. California made history by becoming the first American state to legalise medical marijuana in 1996. 

In 2004, Britain rescheduled marijuana from a Class B to a Class C drug, and then reverted back to Class B in 2009. The move was baffling given that statistically weed smoking was on the decline, as were psychosis-related hospital admissions. 

At the time, the advisory board released a statement which confirmed that evidence surrounding the decision had become “more, rather than less, confused.” David Blunkett, British labour politician, was behind the switch and expressed interest in licensing medical cannabis for multiple sclerosis. In the face of much controversy, it was only in 2018 that the drug became legal for medicinal use in the UK - and has since been subjected to strict regulation. 

Despite its illegal status, the UK is currently the world’s largest exporter of marijuana, sending shipments to countries around the globe where restrictions are more relaxed.  

These days, numerous countries have legalised cannabis to varying degrees, often with a limit on the total amount of grams permitted for “personal use.” In other words, in certain countries, you are allowed to use and possess a certain number of grams without being convicted. 

However, if you are found to be carrying more than the legal amount of weed, you could be subject to prosecution. 

The nuances between various countries and legal laws surrounding weed is vast, and only a few countries have endorsed full legalisation. Canada is perhaps the most famous, where growers are able to obtain a license from the government and to harvest unlimited amounts of cannabis.

The United States is divided when it comes to cannabis legalisation, with various states implementing different laws. In some, you can smoke openly in public, while in others you can enjoy a joint from the privacy of home. Similarly, most of Europe is jumping aboard the cannabis bandwagon – with different countries allowing different products and regulated doses. 

While cannabis has been decriminalised in the Netherlands since 1976, other countries are still catching up.

The Future of Cannabis

Most countries around the world have already legalised CBD, with some allowing THC contents of up to 0.3 percent (0.2% in the UK)(1% in Switzerland). In others the inclusion of THC is still illegal. Medicinal cannabis is a hot topic, and many regions, including the United Kingdom, are benefiting from the introduction of medical cannabis cards (Cancard in the UK). 

Cannabis cards are designed to identify patients with a cannabis prescription, but have become somewhat coveted among regular marijuana smokers. 

In fact, more and more people are turning to Cancards for recreational usage, although technically, this is illegal. However, in the future we may see widespread legalisation, not only in the UK but in countries spanning the entire planet. What with the emerging research on CBD and cannabis, more and more people are embracing cannabis as a medicine.

So far, the evidence is extensive, and directly points towards the fact that cannabis is the missing puzzle piece to the human body.

According to Very Well Health, the human body uses what is known as the endocannabinoid system, to regulate homeostasis (or harmony) in the body. The human body literally has hundreds of cannabinoid receptors! And yes, you guessed correctly, cannabinoids are found in cannabis. In terms of the “endo” from “endocannabinoid”, it means that cannabinoids are naturally produced within our bodies.

As a result of all that has come to light surrounding cannabis, including the groundbreaking discovery of CBG and CBD, more and more people are turning to cannabis for relief of anxiety and pain. 

There is actually a long list of conditions currently known to be treated with cannabis, hence the Cancards that are growing in popularity. Ailments include neurological, gastrointestinal, and psychological conditions as well as many more.

So it seems that cannabis has finally entered mainstream culture, with mounting pressures against the government in the face of stringent lockdown measures. 

According to one source, cannabis campaigners are claiming that “smoking a reefer can help those suffering from anxiety and mental health issues heightened by the Covid-19 pandemic.” It seems that now more than ever the people need the support of the authorities to legalise once and for all.

In the best case scenario, if legalised, there would be no regulation on quantities per person or even on growing procedures

However, even if the government licensed and taxed all growers, the UK could see a serious increase economically – given that it is the world’s largest exporter. But perhaps most luxurious of all, we would be able to smoke weed publically, without worrying about stigmas or the police. 

Many people have a firm vision of the future in terms of legalisation, and the launch of the new Cancard is one step closer to marijuanatopia. 

In this vision, parks would become safe-havens for smokers, and coffee shops would take on an Amsterdam-like vibe. What’s more is that it seems that there is evidence legalisation tends to see a decrease in alcohol usage. 

With all of the positive news surrounding cannabis, there’s hope that it will be legalised within the next decade.

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