History of Medical Cannabis and Hemp in the USA - Part 1

Historical Marijuana Factory - Missouri Hemp Works

Photo credit- Missouri Hemp Works

A Treasured Commodity and Drug.


This article reports on THE major milestones in Cannabis history - from the 1700's when Marijuana was entirely legal, to the quagmire of the present. After a review of the historical record, one might ask, what forces dominated the process to regulate and criminalize marijuana in the United States; captains of industry or the will of the people?

At the end of the day, history has indeed come full circle. Medical Cannabis is now legally available again in many states via doctor prescription. 

MMJDOCTORONLINE Note: In California, Medical Cannabis can be legally acquired via a 420 Patient Evaluations or Growers Recommendation given by a licensed Medical Marijuana Doctor. MMJDOCTORONLINE specializes in online Medical Marijuana Recommendations, Cannabis Cards and Cannabis Consultation.

Founding Fathers were Hemp Farmers

The history of Hemp in North America is older than the United States itself.  Hemp was a commodity and medicine that was grown, used and researched by none other than the founding fathers of America.  We are talking about George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin.  Varieties the American forefathers farmed included Indian Hemp which contained a substantial amount of THC.  Jefferson was one of the first Cannabis Consultants as his journals are full of correspondence about growing, manufacturing, genetics and products. Use of Medical Cannabis in the 1700s is well documented, however evidence that Washington, Jefferson, Franklin and others smoked is lost in the fog of history.  However, do you believe, where there is smoke, there is fire?

Uncle Sam says grow Hemp - WW2

The first US Federal government even required farmers with substantial acreage to grow Hemp by law.  As recently as World War II, the federal government, rather than requiring that farmers get a growers recommendation, actively funded and encouraged farmers to grow Hemp in the interest of national security. 

New England in 1900 has 2,000+ Hash Houses

More than 100 years ago, New York alone boosted more than 500 Hash house frequented most commonly by the elite members of the population.

The various crusades to ban Cannabis sometimes originated with well meaning folk, special interest groups, zealots and conservative politicians, portraying to the public that Cannabis use is both unhealthy and immoral.  

Federal Government does 180 Degree turn on Hemp and Medical Cannabis, Why?

How then, did the Federal Government United States take a 180 degree turn in philosophy; praising and supporting Hemp and then, only a decade later, demonizing a traditional crop of medicinal and industrial importance?   The following timeline describes the grand history, foibles and follies that lay the foundation of today's political landscape.

First Settlers bring Hemp to the Colonies

1606: The first recorded Hemp crop in North America  was planted in Port Royal, Nova Scotia by French Botanist Louis Hebert. 

1611: First cultivation of Hemp reported in Virginia.

1630-1750+: Hemp was used as currency in the American Colonies and was accepted to pay tax.

Pot of my Life

History of Medical Cannabis and Hemp in the USA - Part 2

1619 to 1700's: It was illegal NOT to grow Hemp because it was an absolutely vital commodity in Virginia, Massachusetts and Connecticut.  Today, to legally grow hemp or Medical Cannabis citizens have to get a Grower's Recommendation from a Marijuana Medical Doctor.

1700-1800's: Masters including Van Gogh and Rembrandt painted on Hemp canvas. The word canvas derives from Cannabis.

1720 - 1870: Every township in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania grew Hemp, with more than 100 mills that processed the fiber.

1775:   The father of the constitution, James Monroe, wrote the draft of the Declaration of Independence on Hemp paper.

US Military Needs Hemp Products Desperately

1797:   The US Navy uses hundreds of tons of Hemp for sails, ropes, rigging.  The battleship U.S.S. Constitution is outfitted with 60 tons of Hemp kit.

Monsanto's track record speaks for itself, if you listen.


1790s  George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams own and operate large Hemp plantations Thomas Jefferson diaries contain elaborate details about varieties, cross breeding  and processing.  Jefferson invented a special brake for crushing the plant’s stems during fiber processing. Jefferson might just be America's greatest Cannabis Consultant.

1760: Benjamin Franklin started the first Hemp paper mill. This allowed America to have its own supply of paper (not from England) for the colonial press. Thomas Paine's patriotic literature, which helped spark the revolution, was printed on Hemp. 

MMJDOCTORONLINE Note: 420 Doctor Evaluations and Recommendations are not issued on Hemp paper but maybe they should? 

1791: President Washington put a duty on imported Hemp to encourage self sufficiency. George Washington,Thomas Jefferson and other notables owned sizable plantations.

  • Make the most of the Hemp seed. Sow it everywhere. --George Washington
  • Hemp is of first necessity to the wealth and prosperity of the nation. -- Thomas Jefferson

1801: Canada's colonial government distributed Hemp seed, free. 

MMJDOCTORONLINE Note: Today, Grower's Recommendations, Medical Recommendations and Medical Marijuana Cards are being considered by the newly elected Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, as a means to oversee Medical Cannabis legalization across Canada.

Napoleon Invades Russia to cut England's Navy Hemp Supply

807: Napoleon signs a Treaty with Russia, banning Russian Hemp trade with Britain, however "illegal" trade with Britain continued under the table .

1812: Napoleon invades Russia partly in an attempt to sabotage Britain's navy, which literally depended on Russian Hemp to stay afloat, and was used for its sales, ropes, tackle. 

1824: Hines and Baines Machine manufactured a machine for breaking flax and Hemp. This machine was used with water-retting to produce Hemp fiber reported to be equivalent to the best Russian product.

1829: The Navy started making its sailcloth out of cotton. This cheaper but not better fiber required 15 pounds of Hemp to properly wrap each 500 pound cotton bale

1835: Hemp spreads all the way to the Mississippi and leapfrogs to California.

1850: The United States Census records 8,327 Hemp plantations of at least 2000 acres!! Strains cultivated include medicinal China, Smyrna and Japanese Hemp strains.

MMJDOCTORONLINE Note: Today, MMJDOCTORONLINE provides 420 Evaluations that allow patients access to more than 200 strains of Medical Marijuana!

1840:  Abraham Lincoln, as was common for the time, used Hemp seed oil as fuel for household and office lamps. 

Cannabis Associated with Poison

1860: Cannabis was associated by with a string of suicides and this event served as fodder to have Cannabis categorized as a poison.  A bill was proposed  to regulate the sale of poisons, including Cannabis without the written order of a physician.

MMJDOCTORONLINE Note:  Today, to the contrary, Medical Cannabis is often recommended by Medical Marijuana Doctors in California  for stress reduction and anxiety.  For more information about MMJ Cards and Cannabis Consultation click here.



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