Hemp History

The History of Cannabis

Although you may think it’s a relatively new drug, cannabis has been used medicinally for over 3,000 years and was introduced for use in the west in 1839 by the surgeon W.B. O’Shaughnessy, who learned of its properties while working in India. At that time, it was used for its anticonvulsant, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, sedative and analgesic effects.

By 1942, the drug was taken off the U.S. pharmacopoeia as its effects were considered potentially harmful, and in 1951 cannabis was added to the list of narcotic drugs when Congress passed the Boggs Act. In 1970, marijuana was then classified as a Schedule I drug, which put it on a par with LSD and heroin. In spite of this, cannabis was given out on a case-by-case basis under the Compassionate Use Investigational New Drug Program from 1978, being closed to new patients in 1992.

Still illegal to use under federal law, cannabis is now legalized for use for medical purposes in several states.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

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