Chronic History and the Celebration of 420

While marijuana is recently trending more now than ever, the plant and discovery of its’ virtues is farther in the past than most know or realize. From early origins dating back to 500 B.C, the cannabis plant has been used around the world for herbal healing throughout history…until criminalization in the 20th century. But modern era grassroots efforts have lead to a resurgence of the plant, re-legalization internationally, and the birth of the 420 holiday. Let’s follow the journey of the pot plant from then until now with this brief touch upon chronic history.

Early Roots

The cannabis plant began its’ growth in central Asia. In fact, cannabis seeds have been found in shaman graves in China and Siberia, dating back to that 500 B.C. date. The plant eventually travelled through Africa, Europe and overseas to the American continents.

An herbal healer, ancient civilizations used the cannabis and hemp material for its’ medical purposes (mostly). In Asia, the plant was used as an as anesthetic during surgery. Medieval europeans, and vikings were known to use the plant for relieving pain, like in childbirth or a toothache. In India, the herb was coined as a “five kingdoms of herbs … which release us from anxiety’.

When reaching the colonial era, hemp was a widely produced crop and had very low levels of THC. The fiber was used to make paper, sails, clothing and rope. Other parts of the plant were used as food. Many colonial states in the early 1600’s even required farmers to produce hemp.

Cannabis turns crime

One of the first blows to the expansion of Cannabis was through controls placed on trade of marijuana and hashish at the International Opium Convention of 1925. By the 1960’s and 70’s most countries had restrictions, and penalties in place for transporting, and using the plant.

Many countries like South Africa, Egypt, Turkey, and Greece, had long standing prohibitions against Cannabis and representatives misspoke often on the effects of the plant during the early stages of worldwide criminalization. Theorists have derived that governments associated Cannabis use with lower-income, mentally imbalanced, and violent citizens, therefore and seemingly supporting their claims to ban the herb. This combined with a wave of efforts across the globe, to restrict the non-medical use of all opiates, including cocaine, morphine, heroin, and others, including marijuana.

While many believe the American war on drugs, midst the prohibition era, was a key factor in making marijuana illegal, the Mexican government outlawed all Cannabis drugs first, in the 1920’s. This onset increased immigration and smuggling into the United States of America, eventually lending to de-legalization of the plant in the northern countries. This Mexican/American exchange popularized the term ‘marijuana’ versus other previously used terms like hashish, ganja, etc.

The legend of 420

Another iconic term, 420 or April 20th, is known as the numerical weed callout or official holiday of pot smokers. But where did it come from?

Beyond a plethora of tales, the actual origin of 420 begins in 1971 Marin County, California. This is where a group of five high school friends, nicknamed the ‘waldos’, would meet at 4:20 (after extracurricular activities ended) to smoke marijuana. They nicknamed marijuana amongst themselves, ‘420’ for discretion.

One of the friends, Dave Reddix, later became a groupie for the Grateful Dead, which helped make the term become mainstream. In 1990, a group of Grateful Dead fans promoted a smoke session on April 20th, to smoke the ‘420’. The flyer made for the event came into the hands of a High Times reporter, and from there the holiday grew and stuck with stoners.

Free the leaf

Discretion is becoming less necessary as re-legalization of the Cannabis plant sweeps the globe, as it’s criminalization did so recently. As of 2017, 21 countries or territories have free’d the leaf for medical or adult use (fully or partially).

The biggest supporter of this continued decriminalization trend is increasing medical research on the benefits of the plant. That includes, the World Health Organization calling for the removal of the whole-plant marijuana from it’s Schedule IV category in 2019. While these recommendations have not yet been formally presented, this will be the first step towards international recognition of governing body’s being wrong or mis-leading on marijuana’s benefits.

Celebrate the chronic

By learning more about marijuana’s history, we’ve learned it’s been free longer than locked up. While you may celebrate the positivity of pot’s potency daily, for medical or recreational use, politics still play to fully release the plant we love from criminalization. We hope you feel just as free as the leaf to celebrate its’ journey on the upcoming holiday – happy 420!