The History of Cannabis Law


In the ancient world, cannabis was a popular plant both for its scent and its mind altering effects. In ancient Rome, the communal baths were scented with burning cannabis. This was very important as nearly all of Rome came to wash and relax in these baths and without the cannabis, the smell could get pretty bad.


In India, cannabis was and still is used as part of religious ceremonies.


In the Middle East, hashish has gained a great deal of popularity despite being a banned substance by orthodox Islam.


In the beginning of the 19th century, cannabis was not only legal, it was a favourite drug prescribed by doctors. The UK and the government of India even produced a report that helped prevent laws that would ban the drug in several countries.


It was not until 1860 that real legal challenges to cannabis started appearing. These were mostly regulations by individual states in the USA. In 1937, Franklin D. Roosevelt created the Marihuana Tax Act which was a national law prohibiting the possession of cannabis. This law was passed largely because of prohibitionists fighting against drug use in the US during the 1920s and 30s.


South Africa outlawed cannabis in the 1911. Jamaica outlawed it in 1913 and the UK and New Zealand both outlawed the drug in the 1920s. Cannada followed suit shortly after. These were several reasons behind the banning of cannabis in these countries. These included prohibition movements, the international opium convention regulating the sale of Indian cannabis, and the belief by wealthy businessmen that hemp could be a threat to their wood pulp monopoly.


Ever since this time, most countries have inected their own laws banning cannabis. The penalties for breaking these laws can range from verbal warnings or a small fine to death depending on the country and the legal statis of cannabis.


Currently the only country where cannabis is totally legal is North Korea.

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