Marijuana has had a turbulent history in the United States. Starting in the mid-1990s, however, there was a push to introduce the medical benefits of cannabis to the American people once again— “once again,” because before the 20th century, marijuana was almost entirely legal.
Beginning in the 1910s, states began to ban the sale of marijuana, eventually leading to a bill called the Marijuana Tax Act in 1937, which decreased the amount of hemp (a version of a cannabis plant) allowed to be produced in the U.S. Later on in the century, the stigma around marijuana grew and Richard Nixon signed into law the Controlled Substances Act, which included marijuana on a list of federally banned drugs alongside heroin, cocaine, and other narcotics.
By the time the 1990s came along, though, states began adopting the medical benefits of marijuana, starting with California. About 15 years after that, marijuana itself—not just the medicinal qualities—became legal for recreational use in Washington and Colorado. As of 2017, 29 of 50 states have legalized some form of medical marijuana. A 2013 study revealed that four of five doctors approve of medical marijuana and that more than 90 percent of medical marijuana patients (of around 7,500 surveyed) say that medical marijuana has helped treat their conditions. Seniors were the largest age group in the study (more than 2,300 respondents).
With medical marijuana gaining prevalence and popularity in the medical world all over the U.S., let’s look at exactly what it is. This report covers: