Happy 4th of July – American Cannabis History

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American cannabis has played a pivotal role in the country’s culture and history. It began, as it did in so many other places, with hemp. Hemp was used to make rope, sails, clothes, food, fuel, paper and construction materials. Hemp farming was so important in early America that towns across the country named themselves after it. In 1619 Virginia even passed a law that said all farms in the colony needed a hemp plantation.  However, the rise of cotton to replace the itchy fibres of hemp meant the plant fell out of popularity. By the time the Civil War ended, hemp usage had dwindled as cotton production increased. But that wasn’t the death of the hemp plant.  The Beginning of American Cannabis Culture In the early 1900s, Mexican immigrants fleeing the Mexican Revolution brought cannabis with them. It’s here the term “marijuana” entered the public lexicon. It became popular with the black jazz community as well. 

This wasn’t the first instance of cannabis in North America; in the 19th century, a book entitled The Hasheesh Eater talks about hash being smoked in the U.S.A., but it’s widely accepted the Mexican Revolution was the catalyst for American cannabis consumption. Its exotic rebranding from cannabis to marijuana was explicitly done to emphasize the plant’s foreign history, appealing to the xenophobia at the time.  “There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the U.S., and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others.” – Harry Anslinger, 1st Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, testifying to congress in 1937 The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 federally criminalized cannabis across the U.S.A.  For most of the 20th century, during the era of Reefer Madness, most of…

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Source : Happy 4th of July – American Cannabis History

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