In written history, the usage of cannabis dates back to at least the third millennium BC. However, restrictions began in the 19th century for various reasons. Cannabis was therefore used in the past primarily for recreational purposes. It was also used medicinally and for spiritual goals as well.
The 13th- 17th Century
Around 1320 CE, smoking pipes were uncovered in Ethiopia, having traces of cannabis. Arab traders then migrated cannabis to the Mozambique coast of Africa. After the introduction of tobacco, smoking became common in the old world during the 15th century.
It later became popularly used by the South African- Khoisan and Bantu people, before Europeans settling at the Cape in 1652. In 1798, Napoleon Bonaparte’s troops found a liking to cannabis after the absence of alcohol in Egypt; it being an Islamic country. Despite cannabis usage, Soudon Sheikouni, the Emir of the Joneima in Arabia, was the world’s first to outlaw its usage across his Jurisdiction.
Adrianampoinimerina, Madagascar’s king, also implemented capital punishment as a penalty for anyone using cannabis in 1787, throughout the Merina Kingdom.
The 18th – 20th century
In the early 1800s, Cannabis was then introduced to Brazil by African slaves and the Portuguese colonists. They intended to cultivate hemp fiber. However, due to African slaves’ knowledge of cannabis, they used it psychoactively hence making it prohibited in 1830 by the Municipal Council of Rio de Janeiro, and punishment to users.
Jacques- Joseph Moreau, a French physician, wrote on the physiological effects of using cannabis during his travel in North Africa and the Middle East in 1836-1840. Moreover, in 1842, William Brooke O’Shaughenessy, an Irish physician, brought a quantity of cannabis with him on his return to Britain while working as a medical officer in Bengal.
Also, due to the result of the British practice of transporting Indian indentured workers, there was a long spread of cannabis practices that led to a ban in Mauritius in 1840. The long-range also led to banning in British Singapore due to Indian laborer’s users in 1870. Criminalizing cannabis in British India began in 1871 and 1877.
By 1879, several countries in the Islamic world and its periphery finally banned cannabis. In 1894, The Indian Hemp Drug Commission concluded that” the injury from habitual moderate use of cannabis is not permanent. However, its reasonable use practically produces no ill effects”. Restrictions on the sale of cannabis began in 1906 in the United States. Moreover, with the support of the white ruling class and the Council of Evangelical Churches of Jamaica, cannabis was banned with the Ganja law. Followed by the banning as well in 1913, in South Africa, 1922, in the United Kingdom and New Zealand, Canada as well criminalized cannabis before any reports of the use of the drug.
In the early 1920s to the late 20th century, many countries restricted cannabis in their countries. Despite the restrictions, some countries embraced cannabis usage. i.e., Poland classified it as a narcotic drug in 1951. Cannabis attracted renewed interests mainly as medicine during the 1970s and 1980s. Other countries as well began to change their approaches to cannabis.
The Netherlands was the first country to legalize cannabis. Uruguay then followed in 2015, to legalize recreational cannabis, Canada following in 2018 and South Africa in 2018 for personal use after the bill passed by the House of Commons.
REFERENCES AND CITATIONS
1. Booth, M.(2015). Cannabis: A History.St Martin’s Press.
2. Robert C. Clarke, Mark. D. Merlin(1 September 2013). Cannabis: Evolution and Ethnology
Kenya Gazette 15 October 1913
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