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History of Cannabis

Also see our section on United States History of Cannabis

Cannabis Timeline

6000 B.C.
Cannabis seeds used for food in China

4000 B.C.
Textiles made of hemp are used in China. Remains have been found of hemp fibers from this period and from Turkestan a century later.

2727 B.C.
First recorded use of cannabis as medicine in Chinese pharmacopoeia. In every part of the world humankind has used cannabis for a wide variety of health problems.

1500 B.C.
Cannabis cultivated in China for food and fibre.

1500 B.C.
Scythians cultivate cannabis and use it to weave fine hemp cloth. (Sumach 1975)

1200 – 800 B.C.
Bhang (dried cannabis leaves, seeds and stems) is mentioned in the Hindu sacred text Atharva veda (Science of Charms) as “Sacred Grass”, one of the five sacred plants of India. It is used by medicinally and ritually as an offering to Shiva.

700 – 600 B.C.
The Zoroastrian Zend-Avesta, an ancient Persian religious text of several hundred volumes, and said to have been written by Zarathustra (Zoroaster), refers to bhang as Zoroaster’s “good narcotic” (Vendidad or The Law Against Demons)

700 – 300 B.C.
Scythian tribes leave Cannabis seeds as offerings in royal tombs.

500 B.C.
Scythian couple die and are buried with two small tents covering censers. Attached to one tent stick was a decorated leather pouch containing wild Cannabis seeds. This closely matches the stories told by Herodotus. The gravesite, discovered in the late 1940s, was in Pazryk, northwest of the Tien Shan Mountains in modern-day Khazakstan.

500 B.C.
Hemp is introduced into Northern Europe by the Scythians. An urn containing leaves and seeds of the Cannabis plant, unearthed near Berlin, is dated to about this time.

500 – 100 BC
Hemp spreads throughout northern Europe.

430 B.C.
Herodotus reports on both ritual and recreation use of Cannabis by the Scythians (Herodotus The Histories trans. G. Rawlinson).

100 – 0 B.C.
The psychotropic properties of Cannabis are mentioned in the newly compiled herbal Pen Ts’ao Ching which is attributed to an emperor c. 2700 B.C.

0 – 100 A.D.
Construction of Samartian gold and glass paste stash box for storing hashish, coriander, or salt, buried in Siberian tomb.

70
Dioscorides mentions the use of Cannabis as a Roman medicament.

170
Galen (Roman) alludes to the psychoactivity of Cannabis seed confections.

500 – 600
The Jewish Talmud mentions the euphoriant properties of Cannabis. (Abel 1980)

900 – 1000
Scholars debate the pros and cons of eating hashish. Use spreads throughout Arabia.

1090 – 1256
In Khorasan, Persia, Hasan ibn al-Sabbah, the Old Man of the Mountain, recruits followers to commit assassinations…legends develop around their supposed use of hashish. These legends are some of the earliest written tales of the discovery of the inebriating powers of Cannabis and the supposed use of Hashish.

Early 12th Century
Hashish smoking very popular throughout the Middle East.

12th Century
Cannabis is introduced in Egypt during the reign of the Ayyubid dynasty on the occasion of the flooding of Egypt by mystic devotees coming from Syria. (M.K. Hussein 1957 – Soueif 1972)

1155 – 1221
Persian legend of the Sufi master Sheik Haidar’s of Khorasan’s personal discovery of Cannabis and it’s subsequent spread to Iraq, Bahrain, Egypt and Syria. Another of the ealiest written narratives of the use of Cannabis as an inebriant.

13th Century
The oldest monograph on hashish, Zahr al-‘arish fi tahrim al-hashish, was written. It has since been lost.

13th Century
Ibn al-Baytar of Spain provides a description of psychaoctive Cannabis.

13th Century
Arab traders bring Cannabis to the Mozambique coast of Africa.

1231
Hashish introduced to Iraq in the reign of Caliph Mustansir (Rosenthal 1971)

1271 – 1295
Journeys of Marco Polo in which he gives second-hand reports of the story of Hasan ibn al-Sabbah and his “assassins” using hashish. First time reports of Cannabis have been brought to the attention of Europe.

1378
Ottoman Emir Soudoun Scheikhouni issues one of the first edicts against the eating of hashish.

1526
Babur Nama, first emperor and founder of Mughal Empire learned of hashish in Afghanistan.

1549
Angolan slaves brought cannabis with them to the sugar plantations of northeastern Brazil. They were permitted to plant their cannabis between rows of cane, and to smoke it between harvests.

mid 16th Century
The epic poem, Benk u Bode, by the poet Mohammed Ebn Soleiman Foruli of Baghdad, deals allegorically with a dialectical battle between wine and hashish.

17th Century
Use of hashish, alcohol, and opium spreads among the population of occupied Constantinople.

1606-1632
French and British cultivate Cannabis for hemp at their colonies in Port Royal (1606), Virginia (1611), and Plymouth (1632).

Late 17th Century
Hashish becomes a major trade item between Central Asia and South Asia.

1798
Napoleon discovers that much of the Egyptian lower class habitually uses hashish (Kimmens 1977). He declares a total prohibition. Soldiers returning to France bring the tradition with them.

19th Century
Hashish production expands from Russian Turkestan into Yarkand in Chinese Turkestan.

1809
Antoine Sylvestre de Sacy, a leading Arabist, reveals the etymology of the words “assassin” and “hashishin”.

1840
In America, medicinal preparations with a Cannabis base are available. Hashish available in Persian pharmacies.

1843
Le Club des Hachichins, or Hashish Eater’s Club, established in Paris.

1850
Hashish appears in Greece.

1856
British tax ganja and charas trade in India.

1870 – 1880
First reports of hashish smoking on Greek mainland.

1875
Cultivation for hashish introduced to Greece.

1877
Kerr reports on Indian ganja and charas trade.

1890
Greek Department of Interior prohibits importance, cultivation and use of hashish.

1890
Hashish made illegal in Turkey.

1893 – 1894
The India Hemp Drugs Commission Report is issued.

1893 – 1894
70,000 to 80,000 kg of hashish legally imported into India from Central Asia each year.

1906
Pure Food and Drug Act is passed, regulating the labelling of products containing Alcohol, Opiates, Cocaine, and Cannabis, among others. The law went into effect Jan 1, 1907.

Early 20th Century
Hashish smoking very popular throughout the Middle East.

1915 – 1927
Cannabis begins to be prohibited for nonmedical use in the U.S., especially in SW states.

1920
Metaxus dictators in Greece crack down on hashish smoking.

1920s
Hashish smuggled into Egypt from Greece, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, and Central Asia.

1926
Lebanese hashish production peaks after World War I until prohibited in 1926.

1928
Recrational use of Cannabis is banned in Britain.

1920s – 1930s
High-quality hashish produced in Turkey near Greek border.

1930
Yarkand region of Chinese Turkestan exports 91,471 kg of hashish legally into the Northwest Frontier and Punjab regions of India.

1930s
Legal taxed imports of hashish continue into India from Central Asia.

1934 – 1935
Chinese government moves to end all Cannabis cultivation in Yarkand and charas traffic from Yarkand. Both licit and illicit hashish production become illegal in Chinese Turkestan.

1936
Propaganda film “Reefer Madness” made to scare American youth away from using Cannabis.

1937
Cannabis made federally illegal in the U.S. with the passage of the Marihuana Tax Act.

1938
Supply of hashish from chinese Turkestan nearly ceases.

1940s
Greek hashish smoking tradition fades.

1941
Indian government considers cultivation in Kashmir to fill void of hashish from Chinese Turkestan.

1941 – 1942
Hand-rubbed charas from Nepal is choicest hashish in India during World War II.

1945
Legal hashish consumption continues in India.

1945 – 1955
Hashish use in Greece flourishes again.

1950s
Hashish still smuggled into India from Chinese Central Asia.

1950s
Moroccan government tacitly allows kif cultivation in Rif Mountains.

1962
First hashish made in Morocco.

1963
Turkish police seize 2.5 tons of hashish.

1965
First reports of C. afghanica use for hashish production in northern Afghanistan.

1965
Mustafa comes to Ketama in Morocco to make hashish from local kif.

1966
The Moroccan government attempts to purge kif growers from Rif Mountains.

1966
England win the World Cup.

1967
“Smash”, the first hashish oil appears. Red Lebanese reaches California.

Late 1960s – Early 1970s
The Brotherhood popularizes Afghani hashish.

1970 – 1973
Huge fields of Cannabis cultivated for hashish production in Afghanistan. Last years that truly great afghani hashish is available.

1972
The Nixon-appointed Shafer Commission urged use of cannabis be re-legalized, but their recommendation was ignored. Medical research continues.

Early 1970s
Lebanese red and blonde hashish of very high-quality exported. The highest quality Turkish hashish from Gaziantep near Syria appears in western Europe.

Early 1970s
Afghani hashish varieties introduced to North America for sinsemilla production. Westerners bring metal sieve cloths to Afghanistan. Law enforcement efforts against hashish begin in Afghanistan.

1973
Nepal bans the Cannabis shops and charas (hand-rolled hash) export.

1973
Afghan government makes hashish production and sales illegal. Afghani harvest is pitifully small.

1975
FDA establishes Compassionate Use program for medical marijuana.

1976 – 1977
Quality of Lebanese hashish reaches peak.

1978
Westerners make sieved hashish in Nepal from wild Cannabis.

Late 1970s
Increasing manufacture of “modern” Afghani hashish. Cannabis varieties from Afghanistan imported into Kashmir for sieved hashish production.

1980s
Morocco becomes one of, if not the largest, hashish producing and exporting nations.

1980s
“Border” hashish produced in northwestern Pakistan along the Afghan border to avoid Soviet-Afghan war.

Early 1980s
Quality of Lebanese hashish declines.

1983 – 1984
Small amounts of the last high-quality Turkish hashish appear.

1985
Hashish still produced by Muslims of Kashgar and Yarkland (NW China).

1986
Most private stashes of pre-war Afghani hashish in Amsterdam, Goa, and America are nearly finished.

1987
Moroccan government cracks down upon Cannabis cultivation in lower eleations of Rif Mountains.

1988
DEA administrative law Judge Francis Young finds after thorough hearings that marijuana has clearly established medical use and should be reclassified as a prescriptive drug. His recommendation is ignored.

1993
Cannabis eradication efforts resume in Morocco.

1994
Heavy fighting between rival Muslim clans continues to upset hashish trade in Afghanistan.

1994
Border hashish still produced in Pakistan.

1995
Introduction of hashish-making equipment and appearance of locally produced hashish in Amsterdam coffee shops.

Oct 23, 2001
Britain’s Home Secretary, David Blunkett, proposes relaxing the classification of cannabis from a class B to class C. As of June 10, 2002, this has not taken effect.

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