Although there has been a stigma associated with marijuana for quite some time, its use as an herbal remedy dates back thousands of years. There is a written account of cannabis use by a Chinese emperor and healer from 2757 B.C.E. Wild cannabis plants were commonly used in meals, teas and pastes through Asia and northern Africa. It was seen as a treatment in the ancient eastern world for cramps, inflammation and gout. Through war, trade and colonization, cannabis use spread from native Asia and Africa to Eurpopeans and the New World. In the 1600s, American settlers recorded ecstasy and laughter due to “Indian hemp.” Hemp fibers were used in uniforms for the Revolutionary War. The troops of Napoleon Bonaparte discovered cannabis during the invasion and occupation of Egypt. By the mid 1800s, cannabis was regularly used to treat sleep disorders, headaches and appetite loss. Queen Victoria is believed to have used cannabis for relief from menstrual cramps.
Tinctures gained popularity around the time of the Civil War. In the early 1900s, medicine started to be measured in precise milligrams and herbal remedies suddenly were considered outdated. Fears and prejudices around the time of the Great Depression originated the term “marijuana” and led to prohibition of the plant. In 1911, Massachusetts became the first state to outlaw cannabis. In the late 1930s, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics promoted severe taxes and penalties against doctors who prescribed cannabis. The media was used to further the stigma against cannabis as a gateway to harder drugs. Those you used cannabis for either medicinal or recreational purposes were portrayed as deviants and criminals.