A brief overview of the history, regulation and legalization of cannabis

A brief overview of the history, regulation and legalization of cannabis

Cannabis has been widely used by humans for thousands of years. It has been used for its fibers to make things such as rope, used in foods, as a medicine and in religious ceremonies due to its psychoactive properties.

history of cannabis
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Cannabis uses in ancient times

The large majority of cannabis use has been found to date back to around 3000 BC. Around this time it was used in China for its fibers in pottery and clothing, however there is archaeological evidence that it was used way before this too! Cannabis achenes were found on an archaeological site in the Oki Islands, near Japan from around 8000 BC.

Ancient Greek historians suggest that inhabitants of Scythia (parts of central Asia and Eastern Europe) would smoke hemp-seed smoke as a ritual and as recreation.

Hashish was used in Egypt around the 12th Century (1101 to 1200). However, the Egyptians did not smoke the Hashish, instead they would use it in edibles, until tobacco was introduced at around the year 1500.

Around the same period, cannabis is thought to have been used in Southern Africa. Archaeologists uncovered smoking pipes in the region which dated back to the year 1320. The use of cannabis was then spread from the South East of Africa to the West by Swahili traders.

Industrial hemp was then introduced to the Western Hemisphere by the Spaniards, who grew the hemp in Chile at around 1545.

Early cannabis regulation

Cannabis was introduced to Brazil around the 1800s. It is thought that it was introduced here by either Portuguese settlers or African slaves. Due to cannabis being used for its psychoactive properties in these times, the Municipal of Rio de Janeiro prohibited the use and trade of cannabis within the city.

Several other countries in the 1800s then regulated cannabis cultivation and consumption. Egypt banned importing cannabis in 1879. In 1890, Greece banned hashish and Morocco set some strict regulations, however still allowed the cultivation of cannabis in some areas.

South Africa set regulations on cannabis in the 1920s, along with the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand.

In 1937, the Marihuana Tax Act was passed in the United States, which prohibited the cultivation of hemp and cannabis.

Legalization/decriminalizing of cannabis

 One of the first countries which took steps to legalization was Holland. In 1976, cannabis was decriminalized and recreational use was allowed in coffee shops.

Amsterdam Resin coffee shop
Coffee shop Resin, Amsterdam

The state of California legalized the use of medical cannabis in 1996, followed by Canada in 2001. Also in 2001, Portugal decriminalized the possession of all drugs, however cultivation/production was still illegal. Following Portugal in decriminalizing cannabis were Belgium in 2003, Chile in 2005, Brazil in 2006 and Czech Republic in 2010.

The first country to completely legalize cannabis was Uruguay in 2013. The following year, personal cultivation of cannabis was legalized in Uruguay and allowed up to six plants to be grown for personal use.

Three years later, Canada’s president Justin Trudeau, passed a bill to legalize cannabis on the 1st of July 2018.

For information regarding State cannabis laws in the USA, refer to this map showing the legal status of cannabis in each state.

On the 31st of October 2018, Mexico took steps forward on legalizing cannabis for adult recreational use.

From the 1st of November 2018, the UK has allowed specialist doctors to prescribe medical cannabis to patients which have exhausted other treatments that have not cured/helped them.

Which country will be next in line to legalize the use of cannabis for recreational use? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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