The early history
of cannabis tells us that it was first used
as a drug in ancient China and Asia. Although its psychoactive
properties were well known, its principal functions were therapeutic.
Cannabis was widely prescribed by pre-Christian quacks for ailments as diverse
as venereal disease and leprosy. Throughout the centuries,
hemp has been grown for its fibre all over the world, but the low resin content
of the European weed meant that its medicinal qualities were virtually unknown
in the West until it was "discovered" in the nineteenth century by European
doctors working in North Africa and Asia.|
Hemp fibre production was a multi-million dollar industry in the U.S. in the nineteen thirties. But in 1937, an outrageous piece of protectionist legislation called the Marijuana Tax Act redefined all cannabis products as contraband, and hemp farmers were driven out of business. Although the act was dressed up as a piece of anti-narcotics legislation, it was designed to benefit the paper and synthetic fibre industries.
Since then, a combination of muddled public opinion and the vested interests of various industries have conspired to keep cannabis criminal. This reached its height in the nineteen eighties, the era of Ronald Reagan's War on Drugs. As more and more evidence surfaced that a huge percentage of prescription drugs could be replaced by a herb people could grow at home, the politicians and the pharmaceutical companies closed ranks, and a huge public disinformation campaign was launched.
Because of the governmental whitewash, or maybe the lack of recent research, many people still believe that cannabis is a dangerous drug. However, studies suggest that pot's effects on health are not negative, and as a medicine, it's as useful as many modern pharmaceuticals. As the millenium turns, the weight of popular opinion is more than ever in favour of legalization of cannabis for medicinal purposes, and Ephidrina is hopeful that this abundantly useful plant will again become one of our major resources in the new century.