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SATANIC VERSES

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Harry J. Anslinger becomes the first head of the U.S. government’s Bureau of Narcotics. A racist and an ignoramus of the worst kind, he goes down in history for quotes such as “There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the U.S., and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing, result from marijuana usage. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others.” Another gem: “Marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind.” And: “Marijuana is an addictive drug which produces in its users insanity, criminality and death.”

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PHAT PHARMA

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American pharmaceutical companies sell standardized, cannabis-based medications for use as analgesics, antispasmodics and sedatives.

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PARENT PARANOIA

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The film Reefer Madness — a salacious morality tale of a man who goes insane from smoking marijuana and murders his family with an ax — is released, sending American parents into paroxysms of panic.

Based on the success of Reefer Madness, several copycat films are released, including Assassin of Youth and Marihuana, The Devil’s Weed.

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BIG BIZ BULLIES

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The Marijuana Tax Act passes; its effect is to criminalize cannabis use. The American Medical Association opposes the tax, citing the medical potential of the plant. Hemp is effectively banned as well. Although it has no psychoactive properties, hemp’s many commercial applications pose a threat to powerful business interests, including the cotton, steel and fuel industries.

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NATIONALIST PLANTING

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After 91 years, cannabis is removed from the 12th edition of the United States Pharmacopoeia, a victim of the U.S. government’s (and big industry lobbyists’) campaign to outlaw all use of the plant, therapeutic or otherwise. Ironically, the U.S. government releases a film entitled Hemp for Victory, explaining the uses of hemp and encouraging farmers to grow as much of it as possible to combat a war-induced shortage.

The Journal of the American Medical Association recommends cannabis drops for PMS-induced migraines. (Interestingly, in 2015 it published a statement that cannabis is medicine after reviewing 79 clinical trials; see 2015.)

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BOGGED DOWN

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The Boggs Act establishes mandatory minimum prison sentences for drug convictions. A first-offense conviction for marijuana possession results in 2 to 5 years (5 to 10 years for second offenders and 10 to 20 for third offenders) and a fine of up to $20,000.

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HIPPIE HEYDEY

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With marijuana and other drugs increasingly seen as symbols of the “hippie counterculture,” the U.S. government halts scientific research to evaluate their medical safety and efficacy.

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GOING NUCLEAR

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The United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs classifies marijuana as a Schedule I substance, a designation for highly addictive drugs like heroin, other opiates and cocaine.

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MEANWHILE, ACROSS THE POND

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In the U.K., the government-sanctioned Wootten Report finds cannabis to be less dangerous than alcohol and other drugs. (In this case, the Brits got it right.)

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W.H.O. SAYS?

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The World Health Organization announces that “medical need for cannabis as such no longer exists.”

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MARGARET MEAD ON MARY JANE

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Based on her own experience and that of societies that use cannabis, cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead tells the U.S. Senate that cannabis should be legalized. She is lambasted in the press and labeled a “drug fiend.”

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LEGISLATIVE LUNACY

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The U.S. Congress passes the Controlled Substances Act, classifying cannabis as a Schedule I drug with “no accepted medical use.”

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CANNABIS IN THE CROSSHAIRS

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President Nixon declares a national War on Drugs. That same year, evidence emerges suggesting that cannabis may benefit glaucoma patients, a conclusion the ancient Egyptians came to more than 3,000 years earlier (see 1213 BCE).

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THE DEA

The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is founded by merging the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs and the Office of Drug Abuse Law Enforcement. Drug use in America is at an all-time high. (Marijuana should have been the least of their concerns.)

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IN PRAISE OF POT

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Maya Angelou extols the virtues of cannabis in her second memoir, Gather Together In My Name.

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SYNTHETICS RULE

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Nabilone, a synthetic cannabinoid-based medication to treat severe nausea and vomiting resulting from chemotherapy, is released.

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THE BOURNE LEGACY

U.S. President Jimmy Carter calls for decriminalizing marijuana. His drug czar, Dr. Peter Bourne, argues that cannabis is not a public health problem.

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JUST SAY NO

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Anti-drug advocates launch the “Just Say No” campaign with First Lady Nancy Reagan at the helm.

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RESCUE REMEDY

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Dronabinol, a synthetic form of THC, is approved for the nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite associated with chemotherapy and AIDS-wasting syndrome.

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CELL REPLICATION

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President Ronald Reagan signs the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, reinstating mandatory-minimum sentencing, raising federal penalties for cannabis possession and distribution, and marking a shift from a rehabilitative to a punitive system. U.S. incarceration rates for nonviolent drug offenses begin to skyrocket.

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A NEAR MISS

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After extensive hearings devoted to medical marijuana, Chief Administrative Law Judge Francis Young of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) finds that cannabis has clearly established medical uses and recommends it be reclassified as a prescriptive drug. Despite Young’s conclusion that “marijuana is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man,” his recommendation is ignored.

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MARIJUANA MERCY

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More than half of all oncologists surveyed call for prescription cannabis to be made available to cancer patients.

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KICKED TO THE CURB

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Despite facing a surge of requests from AIDS patients for medical marijuana, the U.S. government slams the door on the Compassionate Use program, established in 1978 to enable seriously ill patients access to new, unapproved drugs when no other treatments are available.

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THE TIDE TURNS

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California voters pass the Compassionate Use Act and the state becomes the first to re-legalize medical marijuana for people suffering from AIDS, cancer and other illnesses. Over the next decade, similar bills pass in 25 states and Washington, D.C.

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SAME OLD

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The Office of National Drug Control Policy commissions the Institute of Medicine to conduct a comprehensive study of the medical efficacy of cannabis therapeutics. It concludes that cannabis is a safe and effective medicine and that the U.S. should expand avenues for research and drug development. Despite the findings, the federal government refuses to act on the institute’s recommendations.

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TWO STEPS BACK

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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services receives a patent for the therapeutic use of cannabinoids as “antioxidants and neuroprotectants.” Under President George W. Bush, however, the federal government expands its War on Drugs, targeting both patients and doctors.

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PANTHERS KNOW BEST

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An AARP poll shows that nearly three-quarters of American seniors support the legalization of cannabis for medical use.

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GREAT-GREAT-GREAT-GANJA GRANNY

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Fulla Nayak of India dies at what is believed to be age 125. She attributed her long life, in part, to her “ganja” cigars.

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TRUTHFUL TOKER

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Presidential candidate Barack Obama candidly discusses his prior drug use: “When I was a kid, I inhaled frequently. That was the point.”

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FIRST, DO NO HARM

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The American College of Physicians announces its support for non-smoked forms of medical cannabis.

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STANDING DOWN

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President Obama moves to end the phenomenally unsuccessful War on Drugs. Following his lead, the Justice Department announces that federal prosecutors will no longer pursue medical marijuana users and distributors who comply with state laws.

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MOOD SWING

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Colorado and Washington vote to legalize cannabis for recreational use. The votes signal a shift in the national mood toward cannabis.

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PRAISEWORTHY PIVOT

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Dr. Sanjay Gupta, an American neurosurgeon and the chief medical correspondent for CNN, reverses his stance on medical marijuana, announcing that there is no sound scientific evidence to support the classification of cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug. “We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States and I apologize for my own role in that.”

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BAKED ALASKA

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Alaska and Oregon legalize recreational cannabis.

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THROW AWAY THE KEY

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According the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the federal prison population totals nearly 220 million, an almost 800% increase since 1980. Over 50% of inmates in federal prison are behind bars because of drug offenses; the U.S. Sentencing Commission notes that nearly 28% of those inmates are imprisoned as a result of a marijuana conviction.

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MIDDLE-AGED SPREAD

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The Centers for Disease Control reports that middle-aged Americans are slightly more likely to use cannabis than their teenage children, and since 2002 regular cannabis use among Americans age 45 to 54 surged by nearly 50%.

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IRREFUTABLE EVIDENCE

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After reviewing 79 clinical trials, The Journal of the American Medical Association publishes a statement that cannabis is medicine, helpful in relieving nausea and vomiting, pain and spasticity.

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THE TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGIN’

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A national poll shows 58% of Americans back cannabis legalization.

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D.E.A. DODGE

The Drug Enforcement Agency declines to reconsider marijuana’s Schedule I classification but recommends further research to determine potential medical benefits.

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NIX THE NAUSEA

Fit Pregnancy and Baby publishes an article entitled “Could Weed Be the Next Big Morning Sickness Cure?” (Nothing new here, though we’re not recommending you try it. Cannabis has been used for exactly this purpose — and to ease childbirth — for thousands of years.)

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SOCIETY STANDS UP

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California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts all vote in favor of legalized use, sale and consumption of recreational marijuana. Florida, Montana and North Dakota pass marijuana for medical use.

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KIKOKO IS BORN

kikoko-4tea-cans-master-shadowKikoko, a company founded in 2014, launches an absolutely fabulous line of organically grown cannabis teas. Mankind rejoices.