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The History of Marijuana in America

A Brief History of Marijuana in America

The legal history of marijuana in the United States relates primarily to the classification of marijuana as a dangerous drug, with no medicinal value. Legal issues and debates over what is considered to be medical marijuana versus illegal marijuana continued to shape the marijuana user's perception of the substance.


  • What is the history of marijuana in America?

  • How has it evolved into an important part of our society?

  • What is the current status of medical marijuana in various states across the country?

  • What is the general view on its use and impact on society?

  • What is the opinion of the growing number of people who use it for recreational reasons?


The history of marijuana in America can be traced back to the late 1800s when it was first used for what the Native Americans believed to be medicinal purposes. It was often smoked as a herbal tonic, and early attempts to grow it resulted in failure. By the early nineteenth century, however, various strains of marijuana had been developed, and production of the drug was soon widespread throughout the United States, except for the coastal regions, where hemp was extensively grown.


By the early twentieth century, marijuana had become a popular addition to the list of popular herbs used in natural medicines. The use of cannabis had become widespread, and it was not long before cannabis was finally banned by the federal government.


The history of marijuana in America does not end there, however. It has steadily risen in popularity as a recreational substance over the decades, even as other countries have cracked down hard on its use, putting many doctors and pharmacists in the medical community at risk of prosecution for prescribing it.


Fact, marijuana was the fifth most prescribed drug behind cancer medications and analgesics in the year 2020.


In spite of the fact that marijuana has gained a reputation as being a dangerous drug, it actually has some important places in the medical and legal history of marijuana.


Medical marijuana can be prescribed by doctors for patients who suffer from debilitating diseases such as cancer, AIDS, Glaucoma, MS, etc., as it reduces the pain caused by these ailments by reducing the output of certain chemicals in the brain.


The ingredient, THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, actually mimics the body's natural pain-relieving system, the endorphins, by allowing the smoker to experience the sensation of feeling a runner's high. This helps relieve the body of certain negative feelings and allows people who suffer chronic pain to get relief.


  • THC or tetrahydrocannabinol, which acts as a psychoactive substance when taken in sufficient amounts.


Historically, marijuana has been used in a variety of different ways, depending on where in the United States you were. Traditionally, marijuana was smoked or used in other forms by Native Americans. Some states allow patients to grow small amounts of the plant for personal consumption. Smoking marijuana in public is illegal in most states, excepting medical situations where it is prescribed by a licensed physician.


Medical marijuana is legal in 36 U.S. states and the District of Columbia:

  • Alaska

  • Arizona

  • Arkansas

  • California

  • Colorado

  • Connecticut

  • Delaware

  • District of Columbia

  • Florida

  • Hawaii

  • Illinois

  • Louisiana

  • Maine

  • Maryland

  • Massachusetts

  • Michigan

  • Minnesota

  • Mississippi

  • Missouri

  • Montana

  • Nevada

  • New Hampshire

  • New Jersey

  • New Mexico

  • New York

  • North Dakota

  • Ohio

  • Oklahoma

  • Oregon

  • Pennsylvania

  • Rhode Island

  • South Dakota

  • Utah

  • Vermont

  • Washington

  • West Virginia

States allowing legal recreational use include:

  • Alaska

  • California

  • Colorado

  • Illinois

  • Maine

  • Massachusetts

  • Michigan

  • Nevada

  • Oregon

  • Vermont

  • Washington

Four new states legalized recreational marijuana in 2020:

  • Arizona

  • Montana

  • New Jersey

  • South Dakota

Election 2020: voters in Mississippi and South Dakota approved a measure to regulate cannabis for medical use: total 36 states and 4 territories.

Election 2020: Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota approved measures to regulate cannabis for adult-use: total 15 states and 3 territories.


As the use of marijuana spread throughout the country, so too did the myths and misconceptions about it. The best way to avoid any misconceptions is to educate yourself about the history of marijuana.


Whether you use it recreationally or medically, it is an interesting, informative, and culturally rich plant that deserves more respect than what it has been given over the years.

Find medical marijuana doctors online near you!


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