Marijuana Timeline - Important Dates in Marijuana History
1600's - First sign of marijuana in North America Hemp (Cannabis sativa) was first brought to North America by the Puritans. American production of hemp was encouraged by the government in the 17th century for the production of rope, sails, and clothing. (Marijuana is the mixture of dried, shredded flowers and leaves that comes from the hemp plant.) In 1619 the Virginia Assembly passed legislation requiring every farmer to grow hemp. Hemp was allowed to be exchanged as legal tender in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland. Domestic production flourished until after the Civil War, when imports and other domestic materials replaced hemp for many purposes. In the late nineteenth century, marijuana became a popular ingredient in many medicinal products and was sold openly in public pharmacies.
1750-1799 - George Washington and Marijuana The first president of the United States, cultivated Indian Hemp (Cannabis sativa indica, i.e. medical cannabis, which could also be used for fiber, although not as well as regular hemp) on his farm.
1800s - Early uses of marijuana Cannabis, also referred to as Marijuana, is legal in most states, as hemp to make items such as rope, sails, and clothes. Cannabis also became a common ingredient in medicine and was openly sold at pharmacies During the lat 18th century, hashish use became a fad in France and also, to some extent, in the U.S.
1906 - First Regulation of Marijuana in United States The first significant instance of cannabis regulation appeared in Washington D.C. in 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act - Required labeling of any cannabis contained in over-the-counter remedies.
1910 - Introduction to recreational use After the Mexican Revolution of 1910, a wave of Mexicans immigrated to the United States and introduced the American public to recreational cannabis use.
December 19, 1914 - The Harrison Narcotic Act The Harrison Narcotics Act prohibited possession of narcotics unless properly prescribed by a physician, in the US
February 25, 1925 - International Opium Convention Banned the use of Indian hemp (hashish) except for authorized medical and scientific purposes
June 14, 1930 - Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) The FBN was established with a main focus of fighting opium and heroin smuggling. It is credited for criminalizing drugs such as cannabis with the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, as well as strengthening the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act of 1914.
Mid 1930's - Marijuana use regulated in every state The Uniform State Narcotic Act - cannabis was regulated in every state by laws instituted through The Uniform State Narcotic Act. During the Great Depression, massive unemployment increased public resentment and fear of Mexican immigrants, escalating public and governmental concern about the problem of marijuana. This instigated a flurry of research which linked the use of marijuana with violence, crime and other socially deviant behaviors, primarily committed by "racially inferior" or underclass communities. By 1931, 29 states had outlawed marijuana.
1936"Reefer Madness" - Propaganda film "Reefer Madness" was produced by the French director, Louis Gasnier. The Motion Pictures Association of America, composed of the major Hollywood studios, banned the showing of any narcotics in films.
August 2, 1937 - Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 After a lurid national propaganda campaign against the "evil weed," Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act. The statute effectively criminalized marijuana, restricting possession of the drug to individuals who paid an expensive excise tax for certain authorized medical and industrial uses.
1944 - La Guardia Report finds marijuana less dangerous New York Academy of Medicine issued an extensively researched report declaring that, contrary to earlier research and popular belief, use of marijuana did not induce violence, insanity or sex crimes, or lead to addiction or other drug use.
July 18, 1956 - Narcotics Control Act of 1956 The acts made a first time cannabis possession offense a minimum of two to ten years with a fine up to $20,000; however, in 1970, the United States Congress repealed mandatory penalties for cannabis offenses.
1960s - Marijuana use popular in counterculture A changing political and cultural climate was reflected in more lenient attitudes towards marijuana. Use of the drug became widespread in the white upper middle class. Reports commissioned by Presidents Kennedy and Johnson found that marijuana use did not induce violence nor lead to use of heavier drugs. Policy towards marijuana began to involve considerations of treatment as well as criminal penalties.
1961 - Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs The principal objectives of the Convention are to limit the possession, use, trade in, distribution, import, export, manufacture and production of drugs exclusively to medical and scientific purposes and to address drug trafficking through international cooperation to deter and discourage drug traffickers.
1968 - Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs formed (BNDD) The BNDD was a predecessor agency of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). It was formed as a subsidiary of the United States Department of Justice, combining the Bureau of Narcotics (from the United States Department of the Treasury) and Bureau of Drug Abuse Control (from the United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare's Food and Drug Administration) into one agency. By 1971 the BNDD was composed of 1,500 agents and had a budget of some $43 million (which was more than fourteen times the size of the budget of the former Bureau of Narcotics).
1970 - Controlled Substances Act Law enacted that regulates the prescribing and dispensing of psychoactive drugs, including stimulants, depressants, and hallucinogens. The act lists five categories of restricted drugs, organized by their medical acceptance, abuse potential, and ability to produce dependence. The law classified cannabis as having high potential for abuse, no medical use, and not safe to use under medical supervision.
1972 - Shafer Commission The bipartisan Shafer Commission, appointed by President Nixon at the direction of Congress, considered laws regarding marijuana and determined that personal use of marijuana should be decriminalized. Nixon rejected the recommendation, but over the course of the 1970s, eleven states decriminalized marijuana and most others reduced their penalties.
1973 - Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is formed The DEA is tasked with combating drug smuggling and use within the U.S. Not only is the DEA the lead agency for domestic enforcement of the drug policy of the United States (sharing concurrent jurisdiction with the Federal Bureau of Investigation), it also has sole responsibility for coordinating and pursuing U.S. drug investigations abroad.
1976 - Beginning of parents' movement against marijuana A nationwide movement emerged of conservative parents' groups lobbying for stricter regulation of marijuana and the prevention of drug use by teenagers. Some of these groups became quite powerful and, with the support of the DEA and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), were instrumental in affecting public attitudes which led to the 1980s War on Drugs.
1986 - Anti-Drug Abuse Act - Mandatory Sentences President Reagan signed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, instituting mandatory sentences for drug-related crimes. In conjunction with the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984, the new law raised federal penalties for marijuana possession and dealing, basing the penalties on the amount of the drug involved. Possession of 100 marijuana plants received the same penalty as possession of 100 grams of heroin. A later amendment to the Anti-Drug Abuse Act established a "three strikes and you're out" policy, requiring life sentences for repeat drug offenders, and providing for the death penalty for "drug kingpins."
1989 - Bush's War on Drugs President George Bush declares a new War on Drugs in a nationally televised speech.
November 5, 1996 - California Proposition 215, also known as the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, was passed Act in California legalized the medicinal use of marijuana.
May 14, 2001 - United States v. Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Coop United States Supreme Court ruled that federal anti-drug laws do not permit an exception for medical cannabis and rejected the common-law medical necessity defense to crimes enacted under the Controlled Substances Act because Congress concluded cannabis has "no currently accepted medical use" when the act was passed in 1970.
2005 - Gonzales v. Raich (previously Ashcroft v. Raich), 545 U.S. 1 United States Supreme Court ruled that the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution allowed the federal government to ban the use of cannabis, including medical use. The court found the federal law valid, although the cannabis in question had been grown and consumed within a single state, and had never entered interstate commerce. Congress may ban the use of cannabis even where states approve its use for medicinal purposes.