Marijuana in the New World

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Marijuana in the New World The first definite record of the marijuana plant in the New World dates from 1545 AD, when the Spaniards introduced it into Chile. It has been suggested, however, that African slaves familiar with marijuana as an intoxicant and medicine brought the seeds with them to Brazil even earlier in the sixteenth century. There is no record that the Pilgrims brought marijuana with them to Plymouth but the Jamestown settlers did bring the plant to Virginia in 1611, and cultivated it for its fiber. Marijuana was introduced into New England in 1629. From then until after the Civil War, the marijuana plant was a major crop in North America, and played an important role in both colonial and national economic policy. In 1762, Virginia awarded bounties for hemp culture and manufacture, and imposed penalties upon those who did not produce it. George Washington was growing hemp at Mount Vernon three years later-presumably for its fiber, though it has been argued that Washington was also concerned to increase the medicinal or intoxicating potency of his marijuana plants.* *The argument depends on a curious tradition, which may or may not be sound, that the quality or quantity of marijuana resin (hashish) is enhanced if the male and female plants are separated before the females are pollinated. There can be no doubt that Washington separated the males from the females. Two entries in his diary supply the evidence: May 12-13, 1765: "Sowed Hemp at Muddy hole by Swamp." August 7, 1765: `-began to separate [sic] the Male from the Female Hemp at Do- rather too late." George Andrews has argued, in The Book of Gra...

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...d extract of cannabis (U.S.P.) and had on several occasions supplied it to his friend's -in part out of scientific curiosity but also just for fun. General John pershing's troops were said to have brought marijuana back with them from Mexico where they were chasing Pancho Villa in 1915. "Old persons in Kentucky report seeing colored field hands break up and load their pipes with dried flowering tops of the plants and smoke them," Dr. J. D. Reichard of Lexington, Kentucky told a scientific meeting in 1943. In short, marijuana was readily available in the United States through much of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, its effects were known, and it was occasionally used for recreational purposes. But use was at best limited, local, and temporary. Not until after 1920 did marijuana come into general use-and not until the 1960s did it become a popular drug.

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