Cannabis Timeline

(The events listed below come from the Schaffer Library of Drug Policy, which is considered to be the most up-to-date information about drugs)


An investigation carried out by a philosopher, found that cannabis seeds were discovered in Taiwan in 8000 BC. Whether it was use medically or not is unknown. Apparently, also in these times there was concern about drugs.

5000 B.C. Amongst other things, apparently the Sumerians used opium Apparently they are the first known organized urban civilization]

3500 B.C. The Sumerian name for opium was “joy and rejoicing”! The earliest historical record of alcohol production occurred in in Egypt.

2500 B.C. Poppy seeds are found among the lake dwellers in Switzerland.

2000 B.C.  Egyptian priest writes to his people “I forbid that you the to go to the taverns. Thou art degraded like beasts!” And reviewing further investigations is appears that there was a great concern about alcohol, tea, caffeine, and indeed any product that gave pleasure, was immediately questioned or even banned by the authorities at the time!

1500 A.D.  A medieval Russian cure for drunkenness consisted in “taking a piece of pork, putting it secretly in a Jews bed for nine days, and then giving it to the drunkards in   pulverized form, who will turn away from drinking it, as a Jew would turn away from pork!” In Shakespeare’s play Falstaff “ if I had 1000 Suns first human principle I would teach them should be to forswear thin portion and to addict themselves to sac”. Sac was a term for sweet wine. Apparently in Shakespeare’s back garden, pipes were found containing cannabis seeds. Whether or not Shakespeare was a user is unknown!

17th Century  The Czar executes anyone on whom tobacco is found! “Anyone caught with tobacco should be tortured until he give up the name of the supplier!” I thought this one was pretty significant: “whenever Sultan Murad the Fourth, went on his travels to run a military expedition, wherever he stopped was always distinguished by a terrible rise in executions. Even on the battlefield, he was fond of surprising men in the act of smoking when he would punish them by beheading, hanging, drawing and quartering, or crushing their hands and feet. Despite all the horrors and prosecution, the passion for smoking still persisted”! Talk about preventative medicine! The famous physician Benjamin Rush published his “Inquiry into the Effects of Ardent Spirits on the Human Body and Mind” he felt that the intemperate use of distilled spirits is a “disease”

1785  Rush estimated that the annual rate of deaths due to alcohol in the United States was not less than 4000 people in a population of less than 6 million. Recent data from the Centers of Disease Control state that alcohol is involved in 30% of deaths in American hospitals!

1800  When Napoleon returned from Europe he brought with him hashish, cannabis, and marijuana, into France. 45 years later there was a club establish entitled “le club de patients hashishins”. Thomas Trotter, a famous Scottish physician stated “in medical language, I consider drunkenness, strictly speaking, to be a disease, produced by a remote cause, and giving birth to actions and movements in the living body that disorder the functions of health. The habit of drunkenness is a disease of the mind. “

I could go on forever, but the message is quite clearly that since the beginning of written history of a lot of attention has been played has been paid to the use of chemicals in Western and certainly in Eastern Society WE are now seeing organizations being set up by people who are using drugs.

1992  The Australian intravenous league was formed and is still quite active.

2008  The international network for people who use drugs was formed.


This is a very challenging time. There seems to be some sort of a viral thing going on in the world these days, including the epidemic of drug addiction.

In the next few offerings, I will discuss cannabis (marijuana) as a role model for all of these drugs that are now so prevalent, that have significant effect on the human brain. And this will also include prescription drugs as well as so-called supplements, herbs, and various other concoctions that are now being sold in our new cyber universe.

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