Early Sumeria: K(a)N(a)B(a), the early Sumerian/Babylonian word for cannabis hemp, enters the Indo-Semitic-European language family base, making it one of humankind's longest surviving root words.
8000 - 7000 B.C.: The earliest known fabric is woven from hemp.
2700 B.C.: The first written record of cannabis use is made in the pharmacopoeia of Shen Nung, one of the fathers of Chinese medicine.
550 B.C.: The Persian prophet Zoroaster writes the Zend-Avesta, a sacred text which lists more than 10,000 medicinal plants. Hemp is at the top of the list.
First Century A.D.: The Chinese begin making paper from hemp and mulberry, giving scholars an inexpensive means of preserving information. Chinese science and knowledge remain vastly superior to that of the West for 1,400 years (in part because the Roman Catholic Church forbid reading and writing for 1,200 years).
800: Islamic prophet Mohammed permits cannabis use, but forbids alcohol.
1150: Moslems use cannabis to start Europe's first paper mill.
1430 - 1431: Saint Joan D'Arc is accused of using herbal "witch" drugs such as cannabis to hear voices.
1484: Pope Innocent VIII labels cannabis as an unholy sacrament of the Satanic mass and issues a papal ban on cannabis medicines.
1563: Queen Elizabeth I orders land owners with 60 acres or more to grow cannabis or face a £5 fine.
1564: King Philip of Spain orders cannabis to be grown throughout his empire, from Argentina to Oregon.
1619: Jamestown Colony, Virginia, enacts the New World's first marijuana
legislation, ordering all farmers to grow Indian hemp seed. Mandatory hemp
cultivation laws were passed in Massachusetts in 1631 and in Connecticut
in 1632. Cannabis is frequently used for barter, and during times of shortage,
farmers sometimes face jail terms for not growing hemp. Some colonies allow
farmers to pay taxes with cannabis hemp.
1776: Patriot wives and mothers organize "spinning bees" to clothe Washington's troops, spinning the thread from hemp fibers. Without hemp, the Continental Army would have frozen to death at Valley Forge. In that same year, in Common Sense, Thomas Paine lists cordage, iron, timber and tar as America's four essential natural resources. "Hemp flourishes even to rankness, we do not want for cordage," Paine writes.
June 28, 1776: The first draft of the Declaration of Independence is written on Dutch hemp paper. A second draft -- the version released on July 4 -- is also written on hemp paper. The final draft, signed by the Founders, is copied from the second draft onto animal parchment.
March 16, 1791: Thomas Jefferson writes in his journal, "The culture [of tobacco] is pernicious. This plant greatly exhausts the soil. Of course, it requires much manure, therefore other productions are deprived of manure, yielding no nourishment for cattle, there is no return for the manure expended...
"It is impolitic. The fact well established in the system of agriculture is that the best hemp and the best tobacco grow on the same kind of soil. The former article is of first necessity to the commerce and marine, in other words to the wealth and protection of the country. The latter, never useful and sometimes pernicious, derives its estimation from caprice, and its value from the taxes to which it was formerly exposed. The preference to be given will result from a comparison of them: Hemp employs in its rudest state more labor than tobacco, but being a material for manufactures of various sorts, becomes afterwards the means of support to numbers of people, hence it is to be preferred in a populous country."
June 19, 1812: The United States goes to war with Great Britain after being cut off from 80% of its Russian hemp supply. Napoleon invades Russia to sever Britain's illegal trade in Russian hemp.
December 1840: Abraham Lincoln writes, "Prohibition... goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man's appetite by legislation and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes... A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded."
1845: Dr. Jean-Jacques Moreau de Tours initiates the science of psycho-pharmacology in France, using cannabis to treat the insane and depressed.
1850: United States Census counts 8,327 hemp plantations (farms with a minimum size of 2,000 acres) growing cannabis hemp for industrial purposes.
1868: Egypt outlaws cannabis ingestion. This nation will later lobby for marijuana criminalization in the League of Nations.
1876: At the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, America's first 100-year birthday bash, fair goers visit the Turkish Hashish Exposition and toke up in order to "enhance their fair experience."
1883: Hashish smoking parlors are open for business in every major American city. According to police estimates, in 1883 there are 500 such parlors in New York City alone.
1890: Queen Victoria's personal physician, Sir Russell Reynolds, prescribes Cannabis for menstrual cramps. Sir Reynolds writes in the first issue of The Lancet, "When pure and administered carefully, [cannabis] one of the of the most valuable medicines we possess."
1895: The Indian Hemp Drug Commission concludes that cannabis has no addictive properties, some medical uses, and a number of positive emotional and social benefits.
1898: The Spanish American War erupts. During the war, the marijuana-smoking
army of Panco Villa seizes 800,000 acres of prime Mexican timberland belonging
to newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. The timber from this land
was used to manufacture newsprint for Hearst's publishing empire. Hearst
begins a 30-year propaganda campaign denouncing Spaniards, Mexican-Americans
and Latinos, portraying Mexicans as lazy pot-smoking layabouts.
1910: The white minority in South Africa outlaws cannabis ingestion in an attempt to force blacks to stop practicing ancient Dagga religions.
1914: Congress passes the Harrison Narcotics Act, its first attempt to control recreational use of drugs.
1916: The United States Department of Agriculture issues "Bulletin No. 404: Hemp Hurds as Paper-Making Material," printed on hemp paper, outlining a revolutionary new hemp pulp technology invented by USDA scientists Dewey Lyster and Jason Merrill. The bulletin lists increased production capacity and superior quality among the advantages of using hemp hurds for pulp. Lyster writes in Bulletin No. 404, "Every tract of 10,000 acres which is devoted to hemp raising year by year is equivalent to a sustained pulp producing capacity of 40,500 acres of average wood-pulp lands." Hence, an acre of hemp produces four times as much pulp as an acre of trees.
February 1917: Henry Timken, the wealthy industrialist who invented the roller bearing, meets with inventor George Schlichten to discuss his brilliant yet simple new machine, the "decorticator." Motivated by his desire to halt the destruction of forests for wood pulp, Schlichten spent 18 years and $400,000 developing the decorticator. The decorticator was capable of stripping the fiber from any plant, leaving behind pulp -- making it the perfect tool to revolutionize the hemp fiber/paper industry in much the same way that Eli Lilly's cotton gin revolutionized the cotton industry during the 1820's. After meeting with Schlichten, Timken views the decorticator as a revolutionary discovery that would improve conditions for mankind (with healthy profits for investors), and he promptly offers Schlichten 100 acres of fertile farmland to grow hemp for the purposes of testing the new machine. At anemic 1917 hemp production levels, Schlichten estimated that the decorticator could produce 50,000 tons of paper for $25 per ton -- 50% less than the cost of newsprint.
1920 - 1940: Economic power in the United States begins to consolidate in the hands of a small number of steel, oil and munitions companies, laying the foundation of the national security state. DuPont becomes the U.S. government's primary manufacturer of munitions. DuPont later creates Rayon, the world's first synthetic fiber, from stabilized guncotton.
1925: Concerned by the high number of "goof butts" being smoked by off-duty servicemen in Panama, the U.S. government sponsors the "Panama Canal Zone Report." The report concludes that marijuana does not pose a problem, and recommends that no criminal penalties be applied to its use or sale.
1931: Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon (head of the Mellon Bank of Pittsburgh, one of the two banks with which DuPont did business) appoints future nephew-in-law Harry J. Anslinger to head the newly-formed Federal Bureau of Narcotics.
1934: U.S. Senator Joseph Guffey of Pennsylvania attacks Harry Anslinger for making references to "ginger-colored niggers" on Federal Bureau of Narcotics stationary in letters circulated to department heads.
June 1934: Congress passes the National Firearms Act, the first prohibitive tax in U.S. history. The National Firearms Act was a futile attempt to reduce machine gun-related violence by gangsters -- a direct result of the prohibition of alcohol, and an eerie echo of the current state of affairs in the United States. Through the power of statute, Congress now "permits" anyone (even Branch Davidians) to own a machine gun, as long as the individual has paid a $200 "transfer tax."
1936 - 1938: William Randolph Hearst's newspaper empire fuels a tabloid journalism propaganda campaign against marijuana. Articles with headlines such as "Marihuana Makes Fiends of Boys in 30 Days; Hasheesh Goads Users to Blood-Lust" create terror of the "killer weed from Mexico." Through his relentless disinformation campaign, Hearst is credited with bringing the word "marijuana" into the English language. In addition to fueling racist attitudes toward Hispanics, Hearst papers run articles about "marijuana-crazed negroes" raping white women and playing "voodoo-satanic" jazz music. Driven insane by marijuana, these blacks -- according to accounts in Hearst-owned newspapers -- dared to step on white men's shadows, look white people directly in the eye for more than three seconds, and even laugh out loud at white people. For shame!
1936: DuPont obtains a patent license to manufacture synthetic "plastic
fibers" from German industrial giant I.G. Farben Corporation. The patent
license is obtained as part Germany's reparation payments to the United
States after World War I. A few years later, I.G. Farben manufactures deadly
Zyklon-B gas, used in Nazi death camps to murder millions of Jews (along
with many homosexuals and drug users). DuPont owned and financed approximately
30% of Hitler's I.G. Corps, the military-industrial backbone of the fascist
-- DuPont patents petrochemical manufacturing processes for making plastics, as well as pollution-heavy sulfate/sulfite processes for producing wood pulp. For the next 50 years, these processes are responsible for 80% of DuPont's industrial output.
--In its 1937 Annual Report, DuPont informs stockholders that the company anticipates "radical changes" from "the revenue raising power of government... converted into an instrument for forcing acceptance of sudden new ideas of industrial and social reorganization."
March 29, 1937: The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously upholds the National Firearms Act.
April 14, 1937: The Treasury Department secretly introduces its "marihuana tax bill" through the House Ways and Means Committee, bypassing more appropriate venues. Committee chairman Robert L. Doughton, a key Congressional ally of DuPont, rubber-stamps the bill.
Spring 1937: Congress holds hearings on the Marijuana Tax Act. Dr. James Woodward, representing the American Medical Association, testifies that the law could deny the world a potential medicine. Cannabis was already prescribed for dozens of common ailments, and medical researchers were just beginning to explore the therapeutic benefits of the numerous active ingredients in marijuana. Woodward said that AMA doctors were wholly unaware that the "killer weed from Mexico" was actually cannabis. "We cannot understand yet, Mr. Chairman, why this bill should have been prepared in secret for two years without any intimation, even to the profession, that it was being prepared," Woodward testifies. FBN commissioner Harry Anslinger and the Ways and Means Committee quickly denounce Woodward and the AMA, which already had an adversarial relationship with the Roosevelt administration.
December 1937: The Marijuana Tax Act is signed into law, initiating 60 years of cannabis prohibition and annihilating a multi-billion dollar industry. DuPont and other synthetic materials manufacturers reap vast profits by filling the void conveniently left by the criminalization of industrial hemp.
1937 - 1939: Under Harry Anslinger, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics prosecutes 3,000 doctors for "illegally" prescribing cannabis-derived medications. In 1939, the American Medical Association reached an agreement with Anslinger, and over the following decade, only three doctors are prosecuted.
February 1938: Popular Mechanics describes hemp
as the "new billion dollar crop." The article was actually written in the
spring of 1937, before cannabis was criminalized. Also in February 1938,
Mechanical Engineering calls hemp "the most profitable and desirable crop
that can be grown."
1941: Popular Mechanics introduces Henry Ford's plastic car, manufactured from and fueled by cannabis. Hoping to free his company from the grasp of the petroleum industry, Ford illegally grew cannabis for years after the federal ban.
1942: The Japanese invasion of the Philippines cuts off the U.S. supply of Manila hemp. The U.S. government immediately distributes 400,000 pounds of cannabis seeds to farmers from Wisconsin to Kentucky. Just four short years after cannabis was outlawed as the "assassin of youth," the government requires farmers to attend showings of the USDA pro-cannabis classic, Hemp for Victory.
Also in 1942: Harry Anslinger is appointed to a top-secret committee charged with finding a "truth serum" for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), precursor of the Central Intelligence Agency (which, in later years, investigated the applications of psychedelic drugs for mind control purposes). The group picks a cannabis-derived form of hashish oil as their truth serum of choice. In 1943, the committee abandoned the idea because test subjects tended to laugh hysterically and get the munchies rather than spill the beans.
1943 - 1948: Harry Anslinger orders all Federal Bureau of Narcotics agents to conduct surveillance and keep files on marijuana "crimes" by jazz and swing musicians. However, Anslinger orders his agents not to bust them immediately -- he instead envisions a gigantic nationwide bust of all pot-smoking jazz and swing musicians, simultaneously. FBN agents keep constant surveillance on various "low lifes" such as Thelonius Monk, Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie and many more. Luckily, the bust never goes down: Anslinger's slightly more sane superior at the Treasury Department, Assistant Secretary Foley, hears of the plan and writes to Anslinger, "Mr. Foley disapproves!"
1944: New York Mayor LaGuardia's Marijuana Commission concludes that there is no link between cannabis and violence, instead citing beneficial effects of marijuana. Harry Anslinger goes berserk, denouncing Mayor LaGuardia and threatening doctors with prison terms should they dare to carry out independent research on cannabis.
1948: Harry Anslinger testifies before a red-baiting Congress that marijuana causes users to become peaceful, pacifistic "zombies." Anslinger warned that the Communists might use marijuana to weaken the fighting spirit of American troops during wartime. This was a complete reversal of earlier testimony; in 1937, Anslinger had testified to Congress that "Marijuana is the most violence causing drug in the history of mankind." Ironically, Anslinger later writes in his autobiography, The Murderers, that for years, he illegally supplied Senator Joseph McCarthy with morphine. It was necessary, you understand, so that the Communists would not be able to blackmail McCarthy in a moment of drug-dependent weakness.
1961: Harry Anslinger heads the U.S. delegation to the United Nations Drugs Convention, which issues the United Nations Single Convention Treaty on Narcotics. Intended to eradicate marijuana use within 25 years, the Single Convention Treaty removes the issue of legal classification of cannabis from citizens of the United States. Reversal of marijuana's criminalization on a global level now requires agreement among all 108 signatory nations. According to the U.S. Supreme Court's 1920 ruling in Missouri vs. Holland, treaties with foreign nations take precedence over domestic legislation.
1962: President John F. Kennedy forces Federal Bureau of Narcotics czar Harry Anslinger into retirement after Anslinger attempts to censor the work of Professor Alfred Lindsmith, author of The Addict and the Law. Some time after his assassination in 1963, associates of Kennedy claimed that the president used cannabis for back pain and planned to legalize marijuana during his second term.
1964: Dr. Raphael Mechoulam of the University of Tel Aviv isolates THC Delta-9, the primary active ingredient in cannabis -- and one of at least 60 compounds found in cannabis that have therapeutic value.
1967: Keith Richards and Mick Jagger are busted at Richard's home for marijuana possession.
1971: Medical World News reports that "Marijuana... is probably the most potent anti-epileptic known to medicine today."
1973: Oregon takes the first steps towards decriminalization of cannabis. For the next 25 years, possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is considered the equivalent of a misdemeanor, with no criminal record for those caught in possession.
1974: Dr. Heath conducts his infamous government-funded Rhesus monkey study at Tulane University, touted for years as "evidence" that marijuana causes brain damage. Dr. Heath would put an airtight gas mask on the monkey, strap it into a chair and force-toke the equivalent of 63 Columbian-strength joints over the course of five minutes. The monkeys suffered brain damage, all right -- from suffocation and carbon monoxide poisoning.
1976: The Ford Administration bans independent research and research by federal health programs on the use of natural cannabis derivatives for medicine. Private pharmaceutical corporations are allowed to do limited "no high" research using only THC Delta-9, ignoring other potentially beneficial active natural ingredients.
1989: A government-funded study at the St. Louis Medical University determines that the human brain has receptor sites for THC to which no other known compounds will bind.
December 30, 1989: Ignoring evidence to the contrary, Drug Enforcement Agency Director John Lawn orders that cannabis remain on the Schedule One narcotics list, reserved for drugs which have no known medical use.
1990: As the drug war gets uglier and uglier, 390,000 American citizens are arrested on marijuana-related charges.
September 5, 1990: Los Angeles Police Chief Darryl Gates testifies before
the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee that "casual drug users should be taken
out and shot."
Jack Herer, The Emporer Wears No Clothes, 1994 edition.
Kayo, The Sinsemilla Technique, Last Gasp Publications, 1982.