Boy, this opens a whole treasure trove of funny scenarios. Like the Earps, Holliday, Clantons and McLowerys all gettin "one toke over the line" down on Fremont and sittin in a circle in the lot next to Fly's, sharing hallucinations, feelings and philosophy. "Oh wow, man, Virgil's cane just turned into a snake. I'm freakin, man." Group turns into a laugh fest and they all go up to Crystal Palace to pig out. Headline in Epitaph next day "Hurled into Fraternity"
A good book on the peyote and Mescalito Indians is "The Teachings of Don Juan" by Carlos Castaneda. It is supposedly the accounts of a real Mescalito shauman and the use of peyote, datura (jimson weed), and psilocybin mushrooms. Some people dispute the legitamcy of the book, but it is an interesting read.
Marijuana or 'Cannabis' was legal in the United States untli December 1937 when the 'Marijuana Tax Act' was passed. It wasn't really outlawed outright however. According to the Act, an excise tax, would be required. It was supposedly taxed at $1 an ounce for all importing, manufacturing, and selling transfers (only for registered dealers). It was $100 for non-registered deals. People were required to register with the Treasury Department to get a Marijuana Tax Stamp. (supposedly very few of these ever existed.) It is a very complicated issue to say the least! In the Old West, yes, Cannabis was legal. Hemp (a non-THC producing variety of the cannabis plant) was also very popular in the old west and even before. Hemp was used for rope, paper, clothes, and even birdseed. According to most sorces that I've found, cannabis or marijuana that is meant for smoking, wasn't really popular in the West until the 1860's or so when Turkish smoking parlors came about and gained popularity.
What is an interesting fact I've found was that the first actual law concearning hemp in America. It was a royal mandate requiring farmers to grow hemp in the British Colonies. They even punished farmers who did not comply with the mandate with prison sentances.
It was used regularly as a medicine and recreational. In several books and articles from magazines like Harper's Bazaars, the mention of smoke houses in the 1860's (New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, etc...) frequented by the young and well off. Out west Indian hemp was available but the smoke houses there were opium dens and by the 1870's many civilized communities were outlawing the practice. But cannabis & opium, were available over the counter. It wasn't until the 1890's that pharmacists started regulating themselves that prescriptions were required.
No Virginia the wacky tobacky wasn't invented by long haired college kids in the 1960's, and it’s history as a product goes back 8,000 years, and the first mention of it’s medicinal values have been documented as far back as 3500 years. Hemp is one of the most versatile plants on the planet, which is why it is such a politically charged subject. Cannabis is also becoming recognized as a legitimate medicinal product, and isn’t listed anywhere in the world as a poison, but alcohol and tobacco are?
Many people, when talking about 'loco weed' are actually talking about Datura plants (also known as jimson weed). It is a very toxic plant that contains atropine, scopolamine, and hyoscamine and other mind altering substances. Mescalito Native Americans along with various other cultures around the world (medieval Europe's sorcerers, and others) used them to achieve visions. This plant is also toxic to livestock, and has been known to kill people and animals. When you're poisened, it can be reversed through pumping the stomach with charcoal at a hospital. In Jamestown, Virgina apparently in 1676, some British soldiers mistook the plant for a spice and became delerious for days after they had eaten it. Hince the name 'jimson weed'
I am familiar with a lot of the history around pot. The 18800's were victorian times. Queen Victoria used it to control menstrual cramps. Washington did indeed grow it (hemp) and there is some weak evidence he may have smoked it. We've heard a lot about opium, laudnem(sp), and morphine during these times. Being human, many will seek alternate states of consiousness. To me, it seems if it was available they would use it. I've just never heard any stories of "Slim" and "Tex" sittin' around a campfire passin' a doobie!
Most hemp, back in British colonial and even early post Revolutionary War, was grown for making rope, and paper. Even clothes were made of hemp. In fact the very word 'canvas' is the Dutch word for Cannabis. On the U.S.S. Constitution also known as 'old ironsides' happened to have at least 60 tons of cannabis fiber in the form of rope, the sails, and even the sailor's clothes. Everything down to the paper the captain used to keep records with were made of cannabis fiber. In 1942 the USDA released a film entitled 'Hemp for Victory' to farmers all across the United States. The film urged farmers to grow hemp for the war effort. It is true that some of our founding fathers including Thomas Jefferson and George Washington grew hemp. In a risky maneuver Jefferson actually broke Chinese trade laws and illegally smuggled precious heirloom Chinese cannabis seeds into the Americas via Turkey then France. The Chinese Mandarins actually had capital punishment for this offense at the time. Benjamin Franklin used hemp to start one of the nation's first paper mills. In 1619 laws were passed in Jamestown Colony, Virgina, requiring farmers to grow hemp.