Click here to continue chronology (2001-Present)
Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada pass medical marijuana legislation.
June 26, 2000, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg release “The Next Episode,” as the third single from the album 2001. Featuring Kurupt and Nate Dogg, the song becomes known for its line “Smoke Weed Everyday.” The song peaks at number 23 on the Billboard Hot 100 in its debut year, and charts again in Billboard’s Global 200 in 2022 when Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre perform it at the Super Bowl LVI halftime show. Numerous remixes are made from the track’s premiere onward, and it is used in several film soundtracks.
November 4, 1999, Maine passes ballot initiative Question 2, which allows patients to use, possess, and cultivate medical marijuana.
July 2, 1999, Marinol is moved from Schedule II to Schedule III in order to increase availability to patients.
Alaska, Oregon, and Washington pass legislation allowing for medical marijuana.
Reefer Madness: The Musical, a theatrical parody of the 1936 exploitation film, opens in Los Angeles written by Kevin Murphy and Dan Studney. The musical stars Christian Campbell and John Kassir and receives five Ovation Awards. Campbell and Kassir reprise their roles when the show transfers to Off-Broadway in 2001; Kristen Bell joins the Off-Broadway production as Mary Lane. The show opens in New York on September 18, 2001 and closes October 28, 2001, but garners a cult following in local theatre productions.
October 1, 1998, the Rochester Cannabis Coalition, led by Shea Gunther, at the Rochester Institute of Technology renames its organization to Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP).
January 27, 1998, Virginia General Assembly tightens provisions on the law allowing cannabis for cancer and glaucoma treatment.
August 1997, 10,000 people gather in Berlin for the first Hanfparade, a public demonstration to legalize hemp. The parade becomes a tradition that continues to this day.
The nonprofit November Coalition is founded to advocate for prisoners incarcerated by the War on Drugs.
California voters pass Proposition 215, also known as the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, which allows patients with a doctor's recommendation to use medical marijuana. California becomes the first state to enact such a law, but patients, caregivers, and growers nonetheless face threats from federal law enforcement.
February 13, 1996, Tupac Shakur releases “Ratha Be Your Nigga,” featuring Richie Rich, on his album All Eyez On Me. The song is also known as “Smoke Weed All Day,” due to the chorus lyric “So we can get drunk and smoke weed all day.” Following Shakur’s murder a few months after the album launch, All Eyez On Me became an instant hit, and continues to rank in numerous lists of the greatest hip hop albums of all time.
After the failure of their 1972 petition to reschedule marijuana, Jon Gettman, the director of NORML, files another petition to reschedule marijuana down from Schedule I.
January 25, 1995, Marijuana Policy Project founded by Rob Kampia, Michael Kirschner and Chuck Thomas.
December 6, 1994, The Berlin Hemp Museum opens as the only museum in Germany focused on cannabis.
Australian National Cannabis Task Force publishes its findings on adult-use cannabis in the country and concludes that the harm of overcriminalization is worse than the use of the substance itself.
45 hemp companies partner to form the Hemp Industries Association. Activist Chris Conrad, author of the book Hemp: Lifeline to the Future, is elected the HIA’s first president.
American Medical Student Association endorses the rescheduling marijuana to Schedule II, as suggested earlier by DEA Administrative Judge Francis Young.
July 20, 1993, Cannabis anthem Hits from the Bong is released by Cypress Hill
December 15, 1992, A titular homage to marijuana, album The Chronic is released by Dr. Dre
September 22, 1992, Redman's debut album Whut? Thee Album is released, including the single "How to Roll a Blunt"
March 29, 1992, then-Presidential candidate Bill Clinton admits to smoking cannabis, but says "I didn't inhale."
November 1991, San Francisco passes the first medical marijuana initiative as Proposition P, which requested the state of California and the California Medical Association to “restore hemp medical preparations to the list of available medicines in California” and to not incriminate physicians for recommending hemp for medicinal purposes
June 1991, The Bush administration suspends the IND (Investigational New Drug) Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Program, which provided free marijuana to seriously ill patients, and which in reality only treated six patients.
April 21, 1990, ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX and ten major cable networks simultaneously air the television special Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue, a short film featuring the most popular animated characters from Bugs Bunny to Winnie the Pooh to Alvin and the Chipmunks and the Muppet Babies as they try to convince a teenage boy to stop using marijuana. The film is financed by McDonald’s, produced by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Foundation, and includes an anti-drug introduction by then-President George H.W. Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush.
DEA begins Operation Green Merchant, a special enforcement operation and investigation targeting businesses advertising horticultural products and equipment used to grow cannabis.
Francis Young, administrative law judge with the DEA, recommends that marijuana be placed in Schedule II in response to NORML's 1972 petition. "Marijuana in its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man," says Young. But the Reagan administration block the ruling. In 1989, DEA administrator Jack Lawn overrules Young's decision so that cannabis remains a Schedule I substance.
1988, First Cannabis Cup, held in Amsterdam and organized by Steven Hager
President Ronald Reagan signs the Anti Drug Abuse Act of 1986 aiming for a "drug-free" America, which included five and ten-year mandatory minimum sentences for drug cases, including marijuana, delegating money to drug abuse prevention and treatment, and which allocated $1.7 million to fight the drug war.
Marinol is approved as a Schedule II drug for nausea and vomiting as symptoms of cancer chemotherapy. It was later approved in 1992 to treat anorexia due to weight loss in AIDS patients.
Jack Herer publishes The Emperor Wears No Clothes, the most comprehensive book to date about cannabis, hemp, and prohibition.
The Comprehensive Crime Control Act broadens criminal and civil asset forfeiture laws, while also increasing Federal criminal sanctions for drug offenses.
First Lady Nancy Reagan travels the country on an anti-drug campaign which she and her advisors dub “Just Say No,” based on her response to schoolchildren’s questions.
The California Department of Justice establishes the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP), a multi-agency law enforcement task force to eradicate illegal cannabis cultivation and trafficking in the state. Since its creation, at least 110 agencies have participated in the task force. Its influence waned with the 1996 passage of the Compassionate Use Act (Prop 215), but the task force has remained effective as a seasonal eradication program to date.
Robert Randall and Alice O’Leary create the Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics (ACT), a scientifically-focused advocacy organization for medical cannabis.
Florida establishes its Domestic Marijuana Eradication Program (FL DME), a multi-agency enforcement program between the DEA and Florida’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The initiative also encompasses 45 police and sheriff’s departments throughout the state of Florida, and tracks illegal cannabis trafficking activities in state jurisdiction.
Virginia State Legislature passes legislation that allows doctors to recommend cannabis for glaucoma treatment or chemotherapy.
New Mexico passes the first state law to recognize the medicinal values of marijuana.
September 9, 1978, Rick James releases “Mary Jane” as the second single from his album Come Get It! The song, an ode to cannabis, becomes one of James’s most notable hits and is sampled on many tracks by other artists. In 2022, it is performed onstage by the cast of the Off-Broadway musical Cannabis! A Viper Vaudeville.
The Netherlands decriminalize marijuana.
1976, Reggae Legend Peter Tosh releases his first solo album, Legalize It, extolling the benefits of marijuana and urging, “legalize it, don’t criticize it, legalize it and I will advertise it.”
Glaucoma patient Robert Randall obtains Federally legal permission to use medical marijuana after suing the FDA, the DEA, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the Department of Justice (DoJ), and the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.
May 27, 1975, Alaska's Ravin v. State ruling protects possession of up to four ounces of marijuana for in-home personal use.
High Times magazine founded by Tom Forcade.
The Journal of the National Cancer Institute publishes an academic paper called "Anticancer Activity of Cannabinoids," showing that chemicals in cannabis inhibit the growth of cancer cells in mice.
September 4, 1974, Eastland Subcommittee releases its report, The Marihuana-Hashish Epidemic and Its Impact on U.S. Security. From Introduction: “The epidemic began at Berkeley University at the time of the famous 1965 "Berkeley Uprising." Not only was pot-smoking embraced as a symbolic rejection of the establishment, but, together with the "dirty speech movement," the right to pot became an integral part of the catalogue of demands of the uprising.”
At VI: “The Internal Security Subcommittee decided to look into it because of internal security considerations affecting the armed forces of the United States, and because of the evidence that clearly subversive groups played a significant role in the spread of the epidemic—both as propagandists and as traffickers. It was established, for example, in previous hearings of the subcommittee, that Timothy Leary's Brotherhood of Eternal Love had for a number of years been the largest producers of LSD and the largest organized smugglers of hashish in the country.”
August 8, 1974, President Nixon Resigns
June 13, 1974, Marihuana-Hashish Epidemic and its Impact on United States Security hearings before the Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act and Other Internal Security Laws of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate.
“Eastland Hearings”: At XIV: “The widespread acceptance of the myth of harmlessness has been due to several things. Certainly a role of some importance was played by the militant pro-marihuana propaganda campaign conducted by many New Left organizations, by academicians sympathizing with the New Left, and by the entire underground press, ever since the Berkeley uprising.”
May 21, 1974, Marihuana-Hashish Epidemic and its Impact on United States Security hearings before the Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act and Other Internal Security Laws of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate.
May 20, 1974, Marihuana-Hashish Epidemic and its Impact on United States Security hearings before the Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act and Other Internal Security Laws of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate.
May 17, 1974, Marihuana-Hashish Epidemic and its Impact on United States Security hearings before the Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act and Other Internal Security Laws of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate.
NB, on John McClellan: “In 1956, McClellan was one of 82 representatives and 19 senators who signed the Southern Manifesto in opposition to the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education and racial integration…” “a foe of civil rights legislation and an advocate of harsh penalties for criminals.” “Among Senator McClellan's other investigations were those that involved…the riots in cities and on college campuses in the 1960’s.”
“Eastland Hearings”: J. G. Soorwine, Chief Counsel; Raymond Siflt, Jr., Minority Counsel; John R. Norpel, Director of Research; Alfonso L. Tarabochia, Chief Investigator.
May 16, 1974, Marihuana-Hashish Epidemic and its Impact on United States Security hearings before the Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act and Other Internal Security Laws of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate.
NB: Strom Thurmond: “Mr. Thurmond held the South for Richard M. Nixon's nomination and election, after assuring Southerners that Mr. Nixon, as president, would go easy on civil rights.” ''I don't know of any right-wing extremists, as I define them, bringing harm to the government. Left-wingers have.’' “He continued to connect Communism and civil rights, calling the Freedom Riders of 1961, who sought integrated bus travel, ''red pawns and publicity seekers.''
“Eastland Hearings”: James Eastland, Chair; JOHN L. McCLELLAN, Arkansas; SAM J. ERVIN, JR., North Carolina; BIRCH EVANS BAYH, Indiana; STROM THURMOND, South Carolina; MARLOW W. COOK, Kentucky; EDWARDJ. GURNEY, Florida.
May 9, 1974, Marihuana-Hashish Epidemic and its Impact on United States Securityhearings before the Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act and Other Internal Security Laws of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate. Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act and Other Internal Security Laws of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate (1974). Marihuana-Hashish Epidemic and its Impact on United States Security. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office.
“Eastland Hearings”: James Oliver Eastland (November 28, 1904 – February 19, 1986) was an American politician from Mississippi who served in the United States Senate as a Democrat in 1941; and again from 1943 until his resignation on December 27, 1978. A wealthy plantation owner, Eastland was best known nationally as a symbol of Southern support of racial segregation in most of his years in the Senate.
Oregon becomes the first state to decriminalize small amounts of cannabis.
October 1973, Steve Miller Band releases The Joker album
President Richard Nixon establishes the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in order to strengthen the government's position in the Drug War and better enforce drug laws through a single administration that may coordinate efforts with other agencies.
January 23, 1973, President Richard Nixon announces agreement ending Vietnam War
National Commission on Marijuana recommends decriminalization, assessing that "criminal law is too harsh a tool to apply to personal possession even in the effort to discourage use."
November 7, 1972, President Richard Nixon is reelected
March 30, 1972, Easter Offensive begins in Vietnam War
March 22, 1972, Shafer Commission releases report, Marijuana, a Signal of Misunderstanding, to Nixon and Congress
Marihuana Reconsidered by Lester Grinspoon (original edition)
July 1, 1971, Brookings Institute safe is burglarized
June 30, 1971, SCOTUS authorizes publication of The Pentagon Papers
May 8, 1971, “A Person Drinks to Have Fun” Recording—Nixon and Art Linkletter debate alcohol versus marijuana at the White House. Nixon refers to Europeans surviving as “strong races” compared to populations of Asian, Middle Eastern and Latin American nations, who he says “have gone down” due to drug use.
May 1, 1971, Controlled Substances Act becomes effective
April 23, 1971, Veterans Against the War: John Kerry Statement to Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
March 1971, folk rock duo Brewer and Shipley release “One Toke Over the Line,” which is later covered by singers on the Lawrence Welk Show and billed as “a modern spiritual.”
President Richard Nixon declares a War on Drugs, claiming drug abuse to be "public enemy number one."
October 27, 1970, The Controlled Substances Act classifies marijuana as Schedule I, with "no accepted medical use."
October 7, 1970, Controlled Substances Act passes in the Senate
September 24, 1970, Controlled Substances Act passes in the House
September 10, 1970, Controlled Substances Act Introduced into House (HR 18583)
March 25, 1970, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reports on the My Lai massacre: “Some of the soldiers alleged to have perpetrated the My Lai massacre smoked marijuana the night before their unit went into action, a former sergeant told senators Tuesday. Charles West, a 22-year-old Chicagoan, told a Senate investigating panel at least 60 per cent of the members of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, had smoked marijuana at least once.”
The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) is founded by public interest attorney Keith Stroup.
May 1970, rock band Jefferson Airplane releases “Mexico,” a protest song against Richard Nixon’s anti-drug initiative Operation Intercept, an effort to curtail the transportation of cannabis from Mexico into the US, and encouraging young people to have power in numbers.
March 6, 1970, The Beatles release "Let It Be", including the lyrical reference to cannabis, “When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom, let it be.”
In Timothy Leary v. United States, 395 U.S. 6 (1969), the U.S. Supreme Court held the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 unconstitutional on the ground that the act required self-incrimination, which violated the Fifth Amendment. Congress responded shortly thereafter by replacing the Marihuana Tax Act with the newly written Controlled Substances Act.
July 15, 1969, Senate Testimony re Berkeley riots and Black Panthers; Eldridge Cleaver speaks. Sen. McClellan chairs the Committee.
January 24, 1968, the film Maryjane is released, starring former teen idol Fabian as a high school teacher who tries to save his students from drugs but gets framed for marijuana possession.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the most prominent psychoactive chemical in cannabis, is identified by Israeli chemist Dr. Raphael Mechoulam.
June 10, 1963, SCOTUS rules in Ker v California that lower courts may determine if the Fourth Amendment’s protections against illegal search and seizure are reasonable or unreasonable to arrests and convictions. George and Diane Ker were arrested when Los Angeles police surveilled George Ker meeting a suspicious person who they believed to be part of a drug ring. Though the officers lacked enough proof that the Kers had exchanged money with anyone in the alleged operation, they searched the couple’s apartment without a warrant and found marijuana inside. SCOTUS found that the lower courts which had decided to uphold the Kers’ convictions were reasonable, as evidence indicated that the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Office had sufficient basis to make a warrantless arrest.
January 1, 1962, The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime publishes The cannabis problem: A note on the problem and the history of international action, a study of how “cannabis drugs are misused on the widest scale geographically,” with particular regard to the illegal drug trade.
The United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs mandates that all signatories ban cannabis cultivation, distribution, and use.
Congress includes marijuana in the Narcotics Control Act, leading to stricter mandatory minimum sentences, such as two to ten years with a fine of up to $20,000 for a first-offense marijuana possession conviction.
November 2, 1951, President Harry S. Truman signs the Boggs Act into law, which amends the Narcotic Drugs Import and Export Act to set mandatory sentences for drug convictions. Under the Act, a first offense for marijuana possession carries a minimum sentence of 2-10 years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000.
Alleged documentary film The Terrible Truth is released, where attorney William B. McKesson interviews a young woman about how her cannabis use led her to become involved in narcotics. The film tries to make the case that the Soviet Union is using cannabis to push drugs into the US.
September 27, 1950, Leon Klimovsky’s film The Marihuana Story premieres in Argentina and is later entered into the Cannes Film Festival.
Sam Newfield’s exploitation film She Shoulda Said No!, AKA Wild Weed, AKA The Story of Lila Leeds and Her Expose of the Marijuana Racket, is released; it stars Lila Leeds in an attempt to capitalize off of Leeds’ and actor Robert Mitchum’s 1948 arrest for cannabis possession. The film shows how a young woman’s cannabis use destroys her life and those around her.
The New York Academy of Medicine issues The La Guardia Committee Report, claiming that, contrary to popular belief, marijuana does not lead to outlandish behavior, violence, insanity, or altered personality.
Medical products containing cannabis are removed from from US Pharmacopoeia so physicians can no longer prescribe it.
Ray Test’s exploitation film Devil’s Harvest is released; a high school student goes undercover to expose the drug operation plaguing her community.
Henry Ford constructs a Model-T made from hemp plastic and which uses hemp as fuel.
President Franklin Roosevelt makes emergency executive order to allow for industrial hemp production in the US for military uses.
The US Department of Agriculture's "Hemp for Victory" program distributes hemp seeds to farmers, encouraging them to grow hemp to use for ropes, parachutes, and other crucial military supplies.
Elmer Clifton’s exploitation film Assassin of Youth is released. The film is considered a ripoff of Reefer Madness, but it is a deliberate reference to an article written by Harry Anslinger for The American Magazine earlier that year about the dangers of marijuana.
The Marihuana Tax Stamp Act of 1937, drafted by Anslinger, levies taxes on cannabis that were so high no one could afford to sell it legally. It effectively banned the sale and use of marijuana, which Anslinger had portrayed as a societal menace.
Propaganda film Reefer Madness aims to illustrate the dangers of marijuana use and its effects on users' behavior.
Dwain Esper’s exploitation film Marihuana is released, showing cannabis as a gateway drug to heroin addiction, sexual promiscuity, teenage pregnancy and crime.
Jazz musician Stuff Smith releases the song “If You’re a Viper,” which becomes one of the most frequently covered songs about marijuana in American history. The 1943 cover by Fats Waller receives attention from Harry Anslinger’s team in the government effort to prosecute jazz musicians for smoking cannabis. The song is later ranked among High Times’ list of the 25 greatest pot songs of all time.
May 21, 1934, Hollywood Pre-Code film Murder at the Vanities is released, featuring Duke Ellington and Kitty Carlisle; its signature scene is the musical number “Sweet Marijuana,” where topless women extol the virtues of cannabis.
William Randolph Hearst, who had financial interests in the lumber and paper industries, publishes detrimental stories about cannabis in an attempt to eliminate competition from the hemp industry. Following suit with Harry Anslinger, first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, Hearst began a propaganda campaign against "marijuana," (instead of cannabis) to draw an association with many of the Mexican immigrants who used it.
Early Jazz Legend Cab Calloway and his Orchestra first records “Have you Ever Met That Funny Reefer Man.”
Blues singer Trixie Smith releases “Jack, I’m Mellow,” which is later used as the theme song for the Netflix series Disjointed.
South Africa implements the Medical, Dental and Pharmacy Act, which prohibits the sale and possession of “habit forming drugs,” including stopping the sale of all cannabis in the country.
The U.S. Pharmacopoeia publishes a Cannabis americana monograph.
Queen Victoria uses cannabis to treat her menstrual cramps.
Tourists at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition are able to sample Turkish cannabis-derived hashish, one of the most popular exhibits.
Mexican soldiers are reported to be using cannabis cigarettes in the United States and Mexico.
Fitz Hugh Ludlow publishes his autobiography, The Hasheesh Eater, which describes his flights of fancy while high on cannabis-derived hashish. The book’s popularity gives rise to private hashish clubs being established throughout the United States.
Cannabis is added to the US Pharmacopeia, which lists it as a treatment for various ailments.
Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist Carl Linnaeus includes the species Cannabis sativa in his book Species Plantarum.
George Washington, among other founding fathers, grows hemp at Mt. Vernon.
The Virginia Assembly, which included the Jamestown Colony, passes a law mandating all farms to grow hemp, which also was used as legal tender.
The use of cannabis spreads throughout the Middle East. Muslim scholars debate whether or not to ban it for religious reasons.
The use of medical cannabis is recorded in Roman medical texts.
Ancient Greeks use cannabis for medical purposes, including for earache, edema, and inflammation
Use of medical cannabis is recorded in the Venidad, an ancient Persian religious text by Zoroaster
The use of hemp spreads around Europe to make food and textiles.
The Atharvaveda, one of the oldest Hindu scriptural texts, references cannabis for spiritual purposes.
Cannabis pollen appears on the mummy of Ramesses II, as cannabis prescriptions were used in ancient Egypt for glaucoma, inflammation, cooling the uterus, and as enemas.
The Bible's book of Exodus references cannabis in the recipe for holy anointing oil.
Chinese Emperor Shennong makes reference to medical marijuana as he prepares one of the world's first pharmacopoeias.
Archaeological evidence of cannabis used as a source of food.