In the recent contentious U.S. Presidential election, voters of five states voted to legalize marijuana which brought the total number of states to 35 that have chosen to permit the consumption of medical marijuana. Moreover, the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed legislation to decriminalize marijuana though it is unlikely to get past the stodgy Senate. In fact, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, said he was too concentrated on Covid-19 relief measures to focus on such a bill. On the other hand, maybe a couple of tokes would make him a more enjoyable and caring person. Clearly, inappropriate lengthy prison sentences for non-violent marijuana offenses are not uncommon as an inmate in Florida is soon to be released after serving 31 years of a 90-year sentence for intent to import a large quantity of marijuana. In fact, 1 in 5 prisoners are incarcerated in the U.S. for drug offenses. So, what is the history of marijuana consumption and the historical paranoia that surrounds it by non-consumers?
Marijuana consumption seems to have originated in the India cradle of civilization thousands of years ago. The Economist recently published an article entitled Indian Stoners Face a Moral Panic that referenced the oldest literary links to cannabis from the Hindu Vedas with their glowing observations about hemp’s high 3,000 years ago. Before time began, the Indians believe the god, Shiva, got high to put his visionary views in motion. Victorian India exported ganja to Jamaica with the indentured servants in the early 1800’s. In addition, the fact is that kiosks around India sell a paste made from marijuana leaves while Mumbai and Delhi are estimated to be among the top six cannabis consuming cities in the world. Nonetheless, the hemp-related prevalence in Indian movie capital, Bollywood, has inspired some “do-gooders” to mount a publicity campaign against it. Nonetheless, life goes on and if you could see through the smoke below, you might see a resemblance of the Indian religious man to our Texas icon, Willy Nelson, whose farm actually adjoins that of one of my uncles.
For some three hundred years, hemp production was encouraged by the U.S. government for the production of rope, sails and clothing. Domestic production was very strong until after the Civil War when other materials replaced it. Later in the 19th century, it was sold openly in public pharmacies for medicinal purposes.
However, it became an issue following the Mexican Revolution of 1910. Mexican immigrants fled into the U.S. introducing weed to the Americanos. Fear and prejudice of the immigrants created an association between them and marijuana which became the “Marijuana Menace.” The Great Depression with massive unemployment and increased fear of Mexican low-cost labor strengthened the anti-drug campaign and led to 29 states outlawing marijuana in 1931.
The Mexican revolutionaries, shown below, pretty much resemble Texas ranch hands which explains the absence of trespassers. We are very comfortable with their presence and see no need for the “wall.”
In 1936, a film entitled Reefer Madness was originally financed and produced by a church group to outline the evils of marijuana consumption. The key message was the destruction of young adults by succumbing to the weed. However, the credibility of the film was undermined by their own poster shown below which portrays “youths” that are in reality mature adults. In the early 1970’s, the film was rediscovered as an unintentional satire among advocates of cannabis policy reform. The purple haze of Jimi Hendrix was quite prevalent in the military gatherings in Vietnam and Thailand at that particular time which debunked the farce of the film.
To fast forward from Shiva’s days at the beginning of time to today, marijuana has pretty much been liberated from the shackles of the more recent past. In fact, it has been commercialized and is becoming a major industry in its own right. King Kong Organics (KKOG) has taken its commerciality to a new plateau. The California-based corporation specializes in the cultivation and extraction of cannabis oils. They are rapidly expanding in Africa and South America to include both outdoor and greenhouse cultivation, research and quality control labs as well as extraction of cannabis oils. According to the United Nations, some 10,000 tons of cannabis is currently produced in Africa each year which I would guess makes it a pretty lucrative crop. KKOG can take the value to a new “high” with their cannabis oil extraction and marketing capability. The strong plants and their care are evident below.
It would seem that the “craft farming” of marijuana has evolved from the days gone by of a few pots in a windowsill or under a sunlamp. Moreover, the medicinal effects can be enjoyed with a gummy bear rather than laboring through seeds and rolling papers. Nonetheless, the old-time cowboy cigarette rollers of Bull Durham tobacco are no longer able to exhibit their deftness and embarrass clumsy city slickers by rolling a joint. On the other hand, fewer folks are facing insane prison terms for a brief experience that was enjoyed by Shiva before time began. We should call this development a small step for mankind and progress.