2022-10-03 09:11:39

History Of Recreational Cannabis: Before & After Strict Laws

People have used cannabis recreationally since the dawn of humankind. Yet, this harmony has been shattered by the negative drug-associated image that emerged in the 1930s.

Recreational cannabis began long before recorded history & was popularized in the 1900s with the emergence of Mexican immigration. Following the great depression, cannabis eventually resulted in criminalization. Then in 2012, recreational cannabis started making an explosive comeback.

Let’s dive in below to learn more about some important milestones throughout the history of recreational cannabis use.

Cannabis Use Before 1937 Prohibition

The drug hashish was extensively used in the Middle East and Asia after 800 AD, as the SAGE Encyclopedia of Pharmacology and Society suggests.

According to Davenport (2012), recreational cannabis consumption was infrequent in the U.S until the 1900s.

Settlers initially favoured the American cultivation of hemp for fibres, sails, and clothes.

In 1619, the Virginia Assembly mandated that any farmer may cultivate hemp.

Hemp enjoyed prominence in the American economy until the Civil War when imports took over.

Before the Mexican Revolution, hashish consumption of cannabis was regarded as therapeutic in France and the United States.

Various organizations worked to try to warn the public of the possible risks of a “cannabis Menace” encroaching on the Mexican culture, as Rushton suggests in his book “War on Weed.”

According to a study, the Great Depression stirred massive unemployment, and Mexican xenophobia increased simultaneously.

Since 1930, 29 states have prohibited hemp, which is still illegal today.

The First States To Legalize Recreational Use

In 2012, Colorado and Washington’s residents voted to make cannabis legal at the polling booth for Proposition 64.

Even though the drug was legal in both states, it was and still is banned under federal law.

The law enables adults 21 years and older to cultivate cannabis in Colorado and to sell it.

Supporters hoped the bill could raise millions of dollars in revenue for the state.

The Supreme Court invalidated a California statute that made it possible for medical cannabis to be used as a medicine in the state in 2005.

US laws permitted Congress to criminalize cannabis under the federal commerce clause.

In 2015, the voters in Ohio opposed a plan to authorize the legal cultivation and selling of recreational cannabis.

Three years later, Vermont became the first state to legalize cannabis for recreational purposes under legislative procedures instead of the ballot system.

In the same year, 2018, 56% of Michigan voters agreed on “Proposal 1”, which included the legalization, control, and tax regulations on cannabis.

The Illinois parliament passed the bill regulating cannabis and tax bill in May 2019, which the Governor later signed in June.

Recently, personal and non-medical cannabis use became legalized in New Jersey due to the new legislation.

Countries Around The World Legalizing Recreational Use

Apart from the US, more countries are opening the door to creating cannabis laws. Here is a list of the countries:


On October 17, 2018, Canada legalized cannabis for commercial use in Canada.

Growers should get licenses from the federal government, and provinces can regulate how the plant is supplied.


In Mexico, there is no longer a punishment for personal possession of 5 grams or less of cannabis.

Cultivation and growing cannabis are nevertheless banned by statute.

Yet, there has been a recent upsurge of public interest for the full legalization of the drug.


In amounts of 10 grams or less, cannabis is now legal in Belize.

You can smoke in your own house if you have obtained express permission.

Costa Rica

Despite being illegal, the police turned a blind eye to the consumption of recreational cannabis.

Smoking a joint is very common among the population and can even be done publicly.


Weed has been decriminalized in Jamaica since 2015. Rastafarian people can use unlimited quantities with no penalties.


In March 2017, Argentina successfully announced that it would become the first country to provide free medical cannabis to its population.

Moreover, the ban on recreational use of cannabis consumption in Argentina has been in effect for over a decade.

The Current States For Legal Recreational Cannabis Use

Here is a chronological list of states where recreational cannabis is legal:

  1. Colorado
  2. Washington
  3. Alaska
  4. Oregon
  5. California
  6. Massachusetts
  7. Nevada
  8. Maine
  9. Vermont
  10. Michigan
  11. Illinois
  12. Arizona
  13. District of Columbia
  14. Montana
  15. New Jersey

Weed has now become more of a goldmine instead of a source of terror.

As you might be conscious, legalization has a lot to do with it.

In the US, cannabis legalization is gaining ground gradually on a state-by-by-state basis.

After the elections in 2016, four states have embarked on the legalization of cannabis for recreational purposes.

This stemmed from the positive legalization effort as Colorado became the first state to vote on this issue in 2012, and it sent a shockwave down the rest of the country.

When Illinois became the eleventh state to legalize cannabis, queues formed lines for hours on the first day of legalization.

Moreover, on Election Day 2020, another four states will join the chorus: Arizona, New Jersey, South Dakota, and Montana.

States Aiming To Legalize Cannabis

By the end of March 2021, Virginia will form part of the 15 states with legal access to cannabis for adult consumption.

However, The state will only apply the law in 2021, when the policy properly establishes the cannabis market.

Other states have also proposed several bills to enable the adult use of cannabis.

New Mexico

One of the legislature's goals was to find a way to subsidize prescription cannabis for those with modest incomes while granting those who used it before the law changed.

The goal is to eliminate past low-level weed arrests and help minorities most affected by the drug’s criminalization.

New York

A key dissenter in the Senate has come around to see the light.

Sen. Pete Hack claims the state could use taxes from recreational cannabis for a public cause.

It is predicted that the state will finalize the adult-use plant on April 1st.

If passed into law, purchases will commence by July 1, 2021.


The Democratic-controlled legislature is debating the prohibition of adult use of cannabis.

People over 21-year-year-olds could possess up to 1.5 ounces of weed, as the main bill, LCO 3311, proposes.

A second measure, HB 6377, builds on the state's expungement process and allows Native tribes to participate in the industry.

About the author: Joe Powers

After an incident in the military, in 2011, Joe Powers began investigating cannabis by talking with industry leaders. In 2016, Joe launched Hemp Writer with its first publication in clarifying disinformation on specific updates to certain federal CBD laws.

Upon calling out a leading cannabis law firm spreading dis-info, Hemp Writer established itself as an authority in clarifying updated information emerging from the cannabis industry. Joe continues charging forwards with increasing momentum to continue fulfilling his vision of SHARING ACCURATE CANNABIS INFORMATION.

Last Update 2022-10-03 09:11:39
Read 426 Times