Ancient History of Marijuana
The cannabis plant was believed to have originated in Central Asia. Its use as a medicine goes as far back 2737 BC during the time of China’s Emperor Shen Neng. It was then also discovered to be used medically and ritually in religious ceremonies and offerings through India, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. There has been ancient artifact discovered showing hemp being use to make rope, paper, cloth and pottery. Medical uses discovered are as an anesthetic, antidepressant, eye treatment and for inflammation. Cannabis is a natural plant that has been providing humanity with it renewable, medical and safe recreational properties for tens of thousands of years until socioeconomic racism begins to surface.
Institutional Racism and Marijuana
Napoleon began a campaign for prohibition in 1798 when he discovered poor Egyptians regularly using hashish. This was the first signal, which ends up radiating through to today, that only poor, lower class, non-white people use marijuana, therefore it must be dangerous.
Marijuanas medicinal properties were widely used across the globe through the 19th Century and into the early 20th Century. In 1910, after the Mexican Revolution, marijuana began to be slandered and prohibited. Mexican that came across the boarder in the US were working as cheap labor in the agricultural industry, smaller farms could no longer compete due to the low cost labor being used at the bigger farms. So, ironically, California was the first state to criminalize marijuana because it was something that all the Mexican immigrant used and brought with them into the US. Sound familiar the use of racism, fear and job loss being responsible for all of the US problems. After California, more and more states began to enact the same policies as California.
Then the next campaign, which pushed federal criminalization, was due to marijuana being use and associated with African-Americans. Marijuana was a big part of the Jazz culture and once this was discovered another scapegoat was created to protect William Randolph Hearsts interest in the timber industry. It was testified in the the United States Congress that the use of marijuana by black men made them look at white women twice and in the eye, as well as step on white mens shadows, which means they came to close to the white man. This all happened despite the fact that Dr. William C. Woodward testified for the American Medical Association in 1937 stating that the criminalization of marijuana could greatly impede on scientific discovery of medical uses of marijuana and that there was no evidence that marijuana was dangerous. Marijuana had to go underground and would not be able to surface until the mid nineties.
California Legalizes Medical Marijuana – First in, First Out
In 1996 California passed state legislation legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes only. Despite California being the first state to make it illegal, they were now setting a trend that would spread to 23 states as of this year and four of those state are legal recreationally. It has been 100 years since California banned marijuana and progress is finally being made, but we cannot celebrate quite yet. Marijuana though being legal in California medically for the past 20 years, laws are continuing to be passed to hinder the sale by dispenseries and cultivation by growers. This fight is by no mean over. We do need to make sure that as it becomes legal throughout the state and possibly federally, which we really would rather not happen just yet, the mom and pop despeneries and growers are protected from big agriculture, pharmaceutical companies as well as chemical companies like Monsanto from mass producing a low quality product, creating GMO strains and pushing out real growers who care and nurture their product so you know it is of good quality.