Cannabis 101: "Cannabis: a history" Review

Time for another valuable lesson on the policies, politics, and history surrounding cannabis in the west. This book report comes from one of Stoney SPICE's papers for her college class, The Business of Cannbis. Read below for her partial assessment of Cannabis: a history by Martin Booth and cannabis's legal history in the USA.


Cannabis: A History took me through a world that I had not realized existed. Sure, I knew that cannabis had been around in many cultures for many, many years. But little did I know the plant, solely used as a commodity, had such value to nations, particularly the U.S. That being said, I found it very interesting to learn the ins and outs of Britain’s forced trade with the New World settlers that began with a fiber better known as hemp.

When the colonizers ventured to the 'New World', Britain was at the time a major producer of hemp...or at least they were trying to be. Because hemp grew wild in so many places throughout southern Europe, it made it almost impossible to regulate a trade within the country and charge people when they could go gather what they needed in the hills themselves. But what about trading with the settlers in what was soon to be the United States? For hemp was not as abundant to them just yet. Or, what about forcing the new settlers to grow the hemp, ship it back to Britain for processing, and then ship the finished goods back to the settlers and sell it to them? Perfect!


During the 15th century hemp was not commonly used for medical or recreational use by the settlers, but to make thread, rope, cloth, paper, and food. This made hemp an important commodity worth the struggle and man power to produce. Colonies that were in Maryland and Virginia were known to be the main producers of hemp. Cannabis Indica being known for more temperate climates was more popular in these areas, but the settlers surprisingly enough grew Cannabis Sativa, making them responsible for introducing her to these areas.

Talk about the recreational use of cannabis amongst the colonizers is still up for debate. Though many of the 'founding fathers' were known to grow the plant, rumors float around historians' mouths that George Washington, being a hemp farmer dabbled for pleasure, as well did Thomas Jefferson ( though if true, it seems the plant had no effect on their moral conscious as both were devoted slave owners). But that doesn’t change the fact that hemp is still thought to have been grown strictly for trade and the widespread use of the fiber. If settlers during this time period were looking to use a mind-altering substance, they were more likely to use opium before consuming the resin that the female plants produced.

Cannabis: A History has done an excellent job of opening my mind to the history of hemp and cannabis in the west. Taking me on a journey through time and explaining the importance of cannabis/hemp to cultures around the world, I'm finding that this book is a must read for any doubter of the impact this plant has and has had on the world today.

~ Stoney SPICE ~