2737 BC: Chinese emperor Shen-Nung uses cannabis ointments and teas to aid in pain relief. Later, the medical benefits of hemp began to appear in books of medicinal drugs across Asia.
1600s: A popular medical text called Anatomy of Melancholy notes that hemp extract is helpful for dealing with mental health disorders.
1700s: Hemp’s medicinal uses are documented in the New England Dispensatory and Edinburgh New Dispensatory—two highly respected resources for doctors in the 18th century.
1700s: The original 13 American colonies are required to produce crops with at least 25 percent hemp—in fact, both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were hemp farmers. It becomes a common material for sails, clothes and rope. The Declaration of Independence is even written on hemp paper.
1851: Hemp extract is listed in the third edition of the U.S. Pharmacopeia as a pain reliever, sleep aid, and antidepressant. Major pharmaceutical companies begin selling cannabis tinctures for pain relief.
1920s-1930s: An anti-cannabis crusade tied to the temperance and prohibition movements is propagated in media and film, which further stigmatizes the plant. The word “marijuana” is introduced to replace the familiar terms “cannabis” and “hemp.”
1937: The United States officially criminalizes marijuana.
1970s: Alternative health devotees begin (illegally) using hemp extracts for healing.
1996: The state of California legalizes medical cannabis for a list of serious health conditions.
2014: President Obama signs the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2014 into law, allowing farmers to start growing hemp under tightly controlled pilot programs.
2018: The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 allows licensed farmers to grow hemp more freely—and removes it from the Schedule I list of illegal substances.
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