History of Medical Cannabis in America


Deerfield Litchfield Mokena Morris

Posted on July 9th, 2015 by Greenhouse Staff

Cannabis has been used for medical purposes throughout the ages. Documented cases of medical cannabis usage date back to nearly 3000 BC in China, and since then all over the world. In America, the use of medical cannabis began unregulated, but since has been through a long and trying legislative journey. Below is an abridged history of medical cannabis in the United States:


The US Pharmacopeia, a document that set standards for both prescription and over-the-counter medicines in America, lists patented cannabis tinctures among treatments for countless ailments including typhus, insanity, and opiate addiction to name a few.


Some US states begin regulating the sale of cannabis sativa.


Congress passes Pure Food & Drug Act, which requires foods and over-the-counter remedies include the use of cannabis on their labels.


Massachusetts becomes the first state to outlaw cannabis. Over the next twenty years, ten more states will pass legislation outlawing cannabis.


The Federal Bureau of Narcotics is established.


In the same year the propaganda film “Reefer Madness” is released, terrifying the American public of the use of cannabis, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics urges the US government to impose regulations on cannabis.


The US government outlaws cannabis.


Cannabis is removed from the US Pharmacopeia, losing its recognition as medically beneficial.


US Congress passes the Boggs Act, which mandates a prison sentence for possession or distribution of cannabis.


Cannabis is included in the Narcotics Control act, leading to more severe punishment for first-time charges of possession or distribution.


Recreational use of cannabis becomes evident and more accepted in American popular culture.


The Controlled Substances Act is passed, classifying cannabis as a Schedule I substance, “classified as having a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.”


Nixon starts the “War on Drugs”.


New Mexico becomes the first state to pass legislation recognizing the medical value of cannabis.


Legislation is passed in California promoting a medical cannabis initiative and the Cannabis Buyers Club, the first legal dispensary of medical cannabis, opens in San Francisco.


California becomes the first state to legalize medical cannabis.


Medical cannabis is legalized in Washington, Oregon, and Alaska.


US government acquires a patent for medical cannabis.


Along with Washington D.C., 23 states have officially legalized the use of cannabis for medical purposes.

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