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Cannabis Prohibition in the United States - part 2

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Before prohibition in America

Prior to prohibition, cannabis was used medically throughout the United States and was originally listed in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia in 1850 as a cure for many ailments. It wasn’t until 1941 when the drug was removed from the text. During the pre-prohibition era not as many people in the U.S knew of the plant’s psychoactive effects. In fact, it was mostly distributed in the form of liquid tinctures and sold in pharmacies across the country. Pharmaceutical companies Eli Lilly and Parke-Davis even collaborated on the development of a strain called: Cannabis Americana which was created to help improve the inefficient export from India.

Cannabis prohibition began in the early 1900’s when individual states-imposed laws and ordinances making it more difficult to obtain and expensive to purchase. It’s argued that prohibition was largely a result of the influx of Mexican immigrants who migrated to the United States carrying marijuana with them during the Mexican Revolution of 1910-11.

The head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, Harry Anslinger, began demonizing the plant by associating racial stereotypes, violent crimes, dangerous sexual activity, and insanity with cannabis-users. He said things like, “you could easily get stoned and go out and kill a person, and it would all be over before you realized you had left your room, because marijuana turns man into a wild beast.Leading people to fear the plant out of false information.

Anslinger had help from the media as newspapers published by William Randolph Hearst used tactics such as yellow journalism to create more fear among American people. It’s been stated Hearst had “financial interests in lumber and paper industries, motivating him to eliminate competition from hemp,” as hemp was the main source of paper for much of history.

It’s also interesting to note the Great Depression and the ending of Alcohol prohibition and how they both played a role in the formation of cannabis prohibition. The Federal Bureau of Narcotics was founded in 1930 shortly after the Great Depression began, which left Anslinger worried about funding for his newly created agency. Prior to this era Anslinger had little interest in criminalizing cannabis as he thought it was more of a distraction, rather than something truly harmful that needed to be stopped. When alcohol prohibition was repealed in 1933 there was an increased amount of people trying the plant and marijuana soon became the target of government control with the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. By criminalizing cannabis Anslinger was able to increase funding for the newly created government agency, marginalize immigrants, and virtually end cannabis research for decades to come.

Below is a timeline of relevant dates in U.S. cannabis history:

  • 1937: The Marijuana Tax Act – effectively banned any further use of the drug as a medicine and outlawed cannabis as a dangerous narcotic
  • 1970: The Controlled Substances Act – prohibited cannabis for any use at the Federal level
  • 1973: Oregon became the first state to decriminalize cannabis, reducing the penalty up to 1 oz to a $100 fine
  • 1996: Proposition 215 made California the 1st state to legalize medical cannabis
  • 2012: Colorado and Washington became the 1st two states to legalize the recreational use of cannabis
  • 2018: Recreational use takes effect in California

Today's Cannabis movement and where its headed

The momentum cannabis is gaining in 2018 is giving us as a company excitement for a brighter future. Our vision of the future is one where stigma is a thing of the past and people can access and afford it from wherever they live. Federally cannabis is still considered a “schedule 1” drug, but as a country there are now 30 states with some form of legalization, which even includes the Republican state of Oklahoma. Nine states including the District of Columbia have decriminalized the drug and both Michigan and Utah have different forms of legalization included on their November ballots. Canada also recently legalized marijuana as a nation so there is a lot of forward momentum both Politically and Economically, but it’s up to us to keep it going.

We have the ability as a community to impact real change, but it requires each of us to show support in whatever way possible. The best way to show support and make the greatest difference is through showing up at community events and voicing your opinion, but if that’s not your style we’d also invite you to join our efforts on social media where we’re promoting an active and adventurous way to explore cannabis, as a way to end stigma and share educational information. Join our campaign by using hashtag #niceguysadventures to share your cannabis fueled adventure pictures.

Read part 1 of the history of cannabis by clicking here


A Global View of Medical Cannabis Use Throughout History - Part 1

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The use of cannabis has been with us for centuries, thought to have originated in the steppes of Central Asia nearly 12,000 years ago, people have been using it for a very long time. In this article we’re going around the globe highlighting the medical uses of one of the oldest cultivated crops in the world. In Neolithic times cannabis was a common agricultural crop used for its high-protein seeds, oils, and fibers to make ropes, enrich diets, and make clothing for ancient societies.

Global use of medical cannabis throughout history

  • Cannabis as a medicine first arrived on the scene around 2737 B.C. when the mystic Chinese Emperor, Shen Neng, began prescribing cannabis tea to treat gout, malaria, beriberi, rheumatism, and poor memory.
  • Around 200 A.D., the first pharmacopeia of the East, known as the “Pent ts’ao,” was created based on much of Shen Neng’s teachings, and contained various uses of cannabis to treat many ailments which also included 365 different medicines derived from plants, animals, and minerals.
  • The Ancient Chinese founder of surgery, Hua T’o, used cannabis mixed with alcohol as an anesthetic during surgeries.
  • In Ancient Rome, Pliny the Elder mentioned cannabis as a painkilling analgesic.
  • Romans were also aware of the plants ability to alleviate labor pains, premenstrual symptoms, and menstrual cramps.
  • In India, Hindus used cannabis to relieve stress and anxiety.
  • The Indian healer, Sushruta, is known for prescribing cannabis for fevers and inflammation of the mucous membrane; while other Indian healers used it to treat coughs and asthma.  
  • Pedanius Dioscorides, a physician in Nero’s Army recommended a juice made out of the seeds of cannabis to aid in earaches.
  • Galen, the Ancient Greek doctor used the drug to treat pain and flatulence.
  • Women in Cambodia and Vietnam ingest a cannabis tea to alleviate postpartum distress, still used today.
  • In Africa, “Dagga,” which is their name for cannabis, varied medically from tribe to tribe.  The Sotho tribe used it during childbirth, whereas residents from Rhodesia used it to treat anthrax, dysentery, and malaria. Some tribes even used it to treat snakebites.
  • In Europe, French doctor Francois Rabelais, wrote a book describing how cannabis could ease the pain of gout, cure horses of colic, and treat burns.
  • Portuguese physician Garcia Da Orta described the plants ability to stimulate appetite.
  • Thanks to the research done by Irish physician William O’Shaughnessy in the 1830’s, both England and the Americas gained interest in the medical potential of the plant.
  • In 1850 the U.S pharmacopeia listed cannabis as a cure for many ailments, and until prohibition began in the 1900’s cannabis tinctures could be found in pharmacies and medicine cabinets all across the country.
  • In the 1950’s a study was done in Czechoslovakia, which confirmed cannabis’s antibiotic and analgesic effects.

Understanding history to end cannabis stigma

You may wonder why one of the oldest cultivated crops in the world is demonized in today’s society, but once you see how entangled cannabis is to religion and commerce it’s easy to see how prohibition was largely influenced by politics of control, rather than from scientific or rational assessments of the drug’s use and effects.  We believe it’s important to know the history because the stigma that cannabis-users are “pot-heads,” lazy, and unintelligent has demonized the plant long enough. The result has limited medical research and turned good people into criminals. Part two of this blog series will dive deeper into prohibition and the different ways cannabis has been misrepresented in the past.


Source:

  1. Understanding Marijuana: A New Look at the Scientific Evidence by Mitch Earleywine

Help us end cannabis stigma by following us on social media where we are exploring cannabis through an active and adventurous lens!