A History of Marijuana in California and America

Marijuana is one of the world's oldest drugs, but it's had a tumultuous time in America. From wonder drug and industrial power at the turn of the century it turned into a demonic drug by the 1920s. As the debate around marijuana springs up again, learn more about the history of this controversial plant.

This timeline was created as part of the [Republic of Cannabis](http://www.kqed.org/news/bayarea/republicofcannabis/), a project of the Center for Investigative Reporting and KQED.;xNLx;;xNLx;Reported by Julia Bernstein and Lisa Pickoff-White;xNLx;;xNLx;Produced by Lisa Pickoff-White

Mass. Prohibits Marijuana

Governor Eugene Foss signs the first law prohibiting marijuana in the United States.

Federal Gov't Bans Recreational Marijuana

The Marihuana Tax Act banned the recreational use of marijuana through prohibitive taxation/penalties.

First People Jailed for Marijuana Possesion

Samuel R. Caldwell, 58, of Denver, Colorado, became the first marijuana seller arrested under federal law. He was also the first convicted, and spent four years in Leavenworth Penitentiary.

United Nations Bans Marijuana

The United Nations creates an international treaty to ban marijuana, along with other narcotics.

Controlled Substances Act Criminalizes Marijuana

While the 1937 tax act prohibited marijuana, it did not ban it. So in 1970 the federal government clarified that with the Controlled Substances Act, which bans specific drugs from any use.


The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws forms with a $5,000 grant from the Playboy Foundation.

Federal Commission Suggests Decriminalizaton

The Nixon-appointed Shafer Commission finds evidence that the "gateway theory" of marijuana use is false.

Oregon Decriminalizes Small-Scale Possession

Oregon becomes the first state to affirm the Shafer Commission's recommendation to decriminalize a small amount of marijuana for adult, personal use.

First Medical Cannibis Patient

Robert Randall becomes the first medical cannabis patient in the U.S.

Pres. Carter Addresses Congress on Drug Use

President Jimmy Carter addresses Congress on the subject of drug addiction and illegal substances. During his campaign he spoke about decriminalizing marijuana.

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