History of weed Essay

This essay has a total of 3215 words and 11 pages.

history of weed

Marijuana in the New World
By: Erica

Marijuana in the New World The first definite record of the marijuana plant in the New
World dates from 1545 AD, when the Spaniards introduced it into Chile. It has been
suggested, however, that African slaves familiar with marijuana as an intoxicant and
medicine brought the seeds with them to Brazil even earlier in the sixteenth century.
There is no record that the Pilgrims brought marijuana with them to Plymouth but the
Jamestown settlers did bring the plant to Virginia in 1611, and cultivated it for its
fiber. Marijuana was introduced into New England in 1629. From then until after the Civil
War, the marijuana plant was a major crop in North America, and played an important role
in both colonial and national economic policy. In 1762, Virginia awarded bounties for hemp
culture and manufacture, and imposed penalties upon those who did not produce it. George
Washington was growing hemp at Mount Vernon three years later-presumably for its fiber,
though it has been argued that Washington was also concerned to increase the medicinal or
intoxicating potency of his marijuana plants.* *The argument depends on a curious
tradition, which may or may not be sound, that the quality or quantity of marijuana resin
(hashish) is enhanced if the male and female plants are separated before the females are
pollinated. There can be no doubt that Washington separated the males from the females.
Two entries in his diary supply the evidence: May 12-13, 1765: "Sowed Hemp at Muddy hole
by Swamp." August 7, 1765: '-began to separate [sic] the Male from the Female Hemp at Do-
rather too late." George Andrews has argued, in The Book of Grass: An Anthology of Indian
Hemp (1967), that Washington's August 7 diary entry "clearly indicates that he was
cultivating the plant for medicinal purposes as well as for it's fiber." -, He might have
separated the males from the females to get better fiber, Andrews concedes-but his phrase
"rather too late" suggests that he wanted to complete the separation before the female
plants were fertilized-and this was a practice related to drug potency rather than to
fiber culture. British mercantile policy hampered American hemp culture for a time during
and after the colonial period by offering heavy bounties on hemp exported from Ireland;
but the American plantings continued despite this subsidized competition. At various times
in the nineteenth century large hemp plantations flourished in Mississippi, Georgia,
California, South Carolina, Nebraska, and other states, as well as on Staten Island, New
York. The center of nineteenth-century production, however, was in Kentucky, where hemp
was introduced in 1775. One Kentuckian, James L. Allen, wrote in 1900: "The Anglo-Saxon
farmers had scarce conquered foothold in the Western wilderness before they became sowers
of hemp. The roads of Kentucky . . . were early made necessary by the hauling of hemp. For
the sake of it slaves were perpetually being trained, hired, bartered; lands perpetually
rented and sold; fortunes made and lost.... With the Civil War began the decline, lasting
still." The invention of the cotton gin and of other cotton and wool machinery, and
competition from cheap imported hemp, were major factors in this decline in United States
hemp cultivation. The decline in commercial production did not, however, mean that
marijuana became scarce. As late as 1937, the American commercial crop was still estimated
at 10,000 acres, much of it in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Kentucky. Four million pounds of
marijuana seed a year were being used in bird feed. During World War II commercial
cultivation was greatly expanded, at the behest of the United States Department of
Agriculture, to meet the shortage of imported hemp for rope. Even decades after commercial
cultivation has been discontinued, hemp can often be found growing luxuriantly as a weed
in abandoned fields and along roadsides. Indeed, the plant readily spreads to additional
territory. The area of Nebraska land infested with "weed" marijuana was estimated in 1969
at 156,000 acres. * * One acre of good land yields about one thousand pounds of marijuana,
enough for almost one million marijuana cigarettes. The medicinal use of marijuana in the
United States. It has often been alleged that American marijuana, cultivated primarily as
a fiber, has little or no psychoactive effect. Nineteenth-century observers knew better.
Dr. Walton sums up: Hemp grown for fiber in Kentucky has been shown to contain a
substantial degree of ... potency. H. C. Wood, in 1869, prepared an alcoholic extract of
hemp grown near Lexington and proceeded to test the product himself. A large [oral] dose
(20 to 30 grains) produced marked effects and, on subsequent occasions, milder but
definite effects were obtained with doses as low as 1/4 grain. This latter dose is lower
than the usual dose of the Indian extract and was probably the result of a more than
usually selective extraction. Houghton and Hamilton in 1908 concluded from animal
experiments that the Kentucky hemp was fully as active as the best imported Indian
product. In any event, it is clear that the potentiality of hashish abuse has always
existed with this type of hemp production. Comparative studies made by the National
Institute of Mental Health on marijuana experimentally grown at the University of
Mississippi in 1969 and 1970 indicate that primarily the seed planted determines the
relative low potency of American-grown marijuana. Marijuana grown in Mississippi from
high-quality Mexican seed proved to contain much more of the psychoactive substance (THC)
than marijuana from domestic seed grown on the same plot and harvested and processed in
the same way. The NIMH studies also refute the widespread belief that the female marijuana
plant yields more potent leaf. Flowers and leaves of male plants from Mexican seeds
yielded 1.47 percent THC as compared with 1.31 percent for female plants.15 The female
plant does, however, yield more resin or hashish. Laboratory tests of United States "weed"
marijuana indicate that its THC content is very low. A 1971 study published in Science,
however, suggests that the THC determinations as currently made are a poor index of the
effectiveness of marijuana when smoked; the smoke may be considerably more potent than the
THC determinations indicate. Between 1850 and 1937, marijuana was quite widely used in
American medical practice for a wide range of conditions. Ile United States Pharmacopoeia,
which through the generations has maintained a highly selective listing of the country's
most widely accepted drugs, admitted marijuana as a recognized ' medicine in 1850 under
the name Extractum Cannabis or Extract of Hemp, and listed it until 1942. The National
Formulary and United States Dispensatory, less selective, also included monographs on
marijuana and cited recommendations for its use for numerous illnesses. In 1851 the United
States Dispensatory reported: Extract of hemp is a powerful narcotic [here meaning
sleep-producing drug], causing exhilaration, intoxication, delirious hallucinations, and,
in its subsequent action, drowsiness and stupor, with little effect upon the circulation.
It is asserted also to act as a decided aphrodisiac, to increase the appetite, and
occasionally to induce the cataleptic state. In morbid states of the system, it has been
found to cause sleep, to allay spasm, to compose nervous disquietude, and to relieve pain.
In these respects it resembles opium; but it differs from that narcotic in not diminishing
the appetite, checking the secretions, or constipating the bowels. It is much less certain
in its effects, but may sometimes be preferably employed, when opium is contraindicated by
its nauseating or constipating effects, or its disposition to produce headache, and to
check the bronchial secretion. The complaints in which it has been specially recommended
are neuralgia, gout, rheumatism, tetanus, hydrophobia, epidemic cholera, convulsions,
chorea, hysteria, mental depression, delirium tremens, insanity, and uterine hemorrhage.
Many eminent British and American physicians recommended marijuana as an Effective
therapeutic agent. Dr. J. Russell Reynolds, Fellow of the Royal Society and Physician in
Ordinary to Her Majesty's (Queen Victoria's) Household, reported in Lancet in 1890, for
example, that he had been prescribing cannabis for thirty years and that he considered it
"one of the most valuable medicines we possess" Sir William Osler, professor of medicine
at the Johns Hopkins and later Regius Professor of Medicine at the University of Oxford,
stated in his 1898 discussion of migraine headaches that "marijuana is probably the most
satisfactory remedy" for that distressing condition.* * Others who recommended marijuana
for migraine headaches included the Committee on Cannabis Indica of the Ohio State Medical
Society (1860); Dr. G. S. D. Anderson in the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal (now the
New England Journal of Medicine) (1863); Dr. Edward John Waring in his textbook, Practical
Therapeutics (1874); Dr. C. W. Suckling in the Britis Medical Journal (1881); Dr. J. B.
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