Hemp, used to make sails, clothing and rope, was a staple agricultural product in America from the 1600s to the early 1900s. Marijuana or cannabis (e.g. flowers and leaves of female hemp plant) is a by-product of hemp production.
(Image Source: Kentucky Hemp Farmers Assoc and Popular Mechanics 1938)
In the later part of the 1800s to the early- and mid-1900s, cannabis was marketed and sold for medicinal use, often for coughs, colds, insomnia, and other ailments.
Cannabis extract from Eli Lilly, which was used to create compounded medications (Image Source: antiquecannabisbook.com)
Cough, cold and bronchitis medicine: “Never take a dose without first shaking the bottle” (Image Source: Pinterest)
“Feel good” cough syrup with possible long-term complications due to the addition of morphine (Image source: Pinterest)
The era of Prohibition, however, brought a change in attitudes surrounding marijuana. It soon became known in movies and popular culture as a cause of moral decline.
The view of marijuana as a dangerous and harmful drug for American society was also echoed in the halls of government.
Harry Anslinger was the commissioner of the Bureau of Narcotics (a forerunner agency of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration) from 1930 to 1962. He was instrumental in banning marijuana in the 1930s.
Then came the 1960s, when the Baby Boomer generation came of age. The fears of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s gave way to Bob Dylan, the counterculture movement and the Summer of Love.
“But I would not feel so alone, everybody must get stoned” – Bob Dylan (Image Sources: Pinterest and Suffolk Voice)
The debate about marijuana use continues on in government and society. In the 1970s and continuing on through today, the image of marijuana changed from something to be feared to one of humor and acceptance. Cannabis has become a fixture in music and movies.
(Up in Smoke, 1978; Fast Times at Ridgemont High, 1982; Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, 2004)
On the leadership front, as Baby Boomers grew up and moved into the c-suite and major government offices, it became more common for today’s leaders to discuss past marijuana use.
Arnold Schwarzenegger became governor of California (source: Daily Mail)
“I experimented with marijuana a time or two, and I didn’t like it . . . and didn’t inhale” – former President Bill Clinton
“When I was a kid, I inhaled . . . frequently . . .that was the point” – former President Barack Obama (click link to video of interview of quote)
The growing use of marijuana and society’s changing attitudes towards it, have altered the political landscape tremendously. Over the last 40 years, there has been a large shift in survey results on the legalization of marijuana, with close to 60 percent of the population approving of legalization, according to Pew Research Center polls in 2016, compared to only 12 percent in 1969. Millennials lead the pack in favor of legalization at 71% approving of legalization with Boomers and Gen X tied at 56%.
Interestingly, according to a 2016 Gallup poll, the number of people who support legalization of marijuana exceeds those who have tried marijuana (43%) or regularly use marijuana (13% or 1 in 8 adults).
As of 2016, 28 states and Washington, D.C. have legalized some level of medicinal marijuana use, and eight states and Washington, D.C. have legalized recreational marijuana use.
Over the years, few subjects have provoked as much controversy in commerce, politics and popular culture as cannabis use. What will the future hold? That answer will undoubtedly be influenced by the new administration, but in the meantime, cannabis use is sure to continue to be highly visible in our movies, music and politics.
(Sources: @badgalriri via Instagram, maimi new times and pinterest)