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Timeline of cannabis from 1700s to 2000s

This WIKPEDIA list includes significant events globally in the history of cannabis.


  • 1787: Madagascar’s King Andrianampoinimerina takes the throne, and soon after bans cannabis with capital punishment.[1]


  • 1800: Shortly following Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt, concerned by his troops’ use of smoked hashish and cannabis drinks, he bans the drug and the establishments that provide it.[2]
  • 1830: The Municipal Council of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, prohibits bringing cannabis into the city, and punishing its use by any slave.[3]
  • 1870: Natal Colony (now in South Africa) passes the Coolie Law Consolidation prohibiting: “the smoking, use, or possession by and the sale, barter, or gift to, any Coolies [Indian indentured workers] whatsoever, of any portion of the hemp plant (Cannabis sativa)…”[4]
  • 1877: the Ottoman government in Constantinople mandated that all hashish in Egypt be destroyed, and in 1879 importation of cannabis was banned by the Khedivate of Egypt.[5][6]
  • 1890: Morocco’s Sultan Hassan I instituted strict regulations on cultivation and trade, but also conferred clear cannabis production privileges on several Rif tribes.[7]
  • 1894: In British India the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission releases its findings, concluding that “The moderate use practically produces no ill effects. In all but the most exceptional cases, the injury from habitual moderate use is not appreciable.”[8]


  • 1913: Jamaica bans cannabis with the Ganja Law, supported by the white elites and the Council of Evangelical Churches in Jamaica[9]
  • 1920: Sierra Leone bans cannabis.[10]
  • 1922: South Africa banned cannabis nationally, under the Customs and Excises Duty Act.[11][12]
  • 1923: Canada banned cannabis.[13]
  • 1925: The League of Nations signs the revised International Opium Convention, for the first time adding cannabis among prohibited drugs.
  • 1925: Trinidad and Tobago banned cannabis.[14]
  • 1926: Lebanon prohibits hashish.[15][16]
  • 1926: Australia banned cannabis.[17]
  • 1928: The United Kingdom first prohibited cannabis as a drug, in accordance with the 1925 International Opium Convention, adding cannabis as an addendum to the Dangerous Drugs Act 1920.[18][19]
  • 1928: Romania established laws for countering narcotics, including hashish and its preparations.[20]
  • 1937: The United States passed the Marijuana Tax Act, effectively prohibiting all use of cannabis on a federal level.
  • 1939: Burma legalizes and licenses the production and sale of cannabis.[21]
  • 1948: Japan adopts the Cannabis Control Law, establishing a licensing system for dealers, and punishments for unlicensed use or sale.[22]
  • 1953: Tunisia bans cannabis.[23]
  • 1956: Morocco becomes independent, and bans cannabis by royal decree.[24]
  • 1961: The United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs decrees: “The use of cannabis for other than medical and scientific purposes must be discontinued as soon as possible but in any case within twenty-five years…”
  • 1965: New Zealand bans cannabis under the Narcotics Act.[25]
  • 1970: The United States passed the Controlled Substances Act, prohibiting cannabis federally along with several other drugs and replacing the 1937 act.
  • 1973: Nepal canceled the licenses of all cannabis shops, dealers, and farmers, under pressure from the United States and the international community.[26]
  • 1973: Afghanistan’s King Zahir Shah outlawed cannabis production, followed by genuine commitment to eradication, backed by $47 million in funding from the United States government.[26]
  • 1975: Comoros’ Ali Soilih seizes power, and among other radical reforms to gain the support of youth, legalizes cannabis in Comoros.[27][28]
  • 1989: Bangladesh bans the sale of cannabis.[29]
  • 1992: Lebanon bans and eradicates cannabis, under US pressure.[30]


  • 2001: Portugal decriminalized all drugs, including cannabis.[31][32]
  • 2002: Luxembourg decriminalized cannabis.[33]
  • 2003: Belgium decriminalized cannabis.[34][35]
  • 2004: The United Kingdom re-classifies cannabis as a Class B (less-harmful) drug, before restoring it to Class A in 2009.[36]
  • 2005: Chile decriminalized cannabis.[37]
  • 2006: Russia reduced the limits for criminal possession of many drugs, with the criminal threshold for cannabis being reduced from 20 to 6 grams for cannabis, and 5 to 2 grams for hashish.[38]
  • 2006: Brazil decriminalizes possession and cultivation of personal amounts of cannabis.[39]
  • 2009: Mexico decriminalized possession of up to 5 grams of cannabis.[40]
  • 2009: Argentina decriminalized cannabis.[41]
  • 2010: Czech Republic reduces the penalty for small possession and up to five cannabis plants to a misdemeanor.[42]
  • 2012: Switzerland decriminalizes possession of 10 grams or less to a fine.[43]
  • 2012: Colombia decriminalizes possession of 20 grams or less.[44]
  • 2013: Uruguay legalizes cannabis, becoming the first country in the modern era to explicitly do so.[45]
  • 2013: Romania became the tenth EU country to legalize medical marijuana.[46]
  • 2013: Czech Republic legalizes cannabis for medical use.[47][48]
  • 2013: France legalizes the sale of medications containing cannabis derivatives.[49][50]
  • 2015: Malta decriminalized cannabis.[51]
  • 2015: Colombia legalizes medical cannabis.[52]
  • 2015: Croatia legalized cannabis-based drugs for specified medical purposes.[53]
  • 2015: Jamaica decriminalized possession of up to 2 ounces of cannabis and legalized the cultivation for personal use of up to 5 plants.[54]
  • 2016: Macedonia legalized medical cannabis.[55]
  • 2016: Australia legalised medicinal cannabis at the federal level.[56]

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