Despite the federal ban on marijuana in the United States, cannabis is still widely available. But it’s not just cannabis that American innovators have been experimenting with — American innovation has also led to a significant number of innovations in cannabis itself. American cannabis innovations conglomerated is a massive report, chock full of innovations in cannabis.
Many of these innovations may not be as well known as say, laser printing or the integrated circuit. But they have all made a significant impact on the availability and quality of cannabis available in the United States (and worldwide). In this report, we’ve tried to detail every one that we could find, whether they are transformative (the first time something has been done) or evolutionary (the first use of a new technology on a particular application or process in cannabis).
1. Marijuana Prohibition:
Marijuana prohibition began in the United States with the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. The act was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, though it did not completely ban marijuana — it merely placed a tax on it. Following the passage of this act, Americans would obtain their first legal dose of cannabis from traveling to Mexico, where lawmakers had been making marijuana accessible for American tourists. The Marijuana Tax Act was replaced by the Controlled Substances Act in 1970 and by several subsequent acts (including the FDA) which have prohibited most uses of cannabis including for therapeutic purposes.
2. The DEA raids the University of Mississippi’s 1967 Marijuana Project:
The first federal law enforcement raid on a marijuana cultivator in the United States took place at the University of Mississippi in 1967. The raid was ordered by then-governor of Mississippi, Paul B. Johnson, Jr., who had called cannabis a “filthy narcotic” which “provokes crimes of lust, sexual degeneracy and perversion.”
3. A Harvard study finds no link between marijuana use and increased IQ:
In 1969, a study conducted by the Harvard Medical School found that cannabis did not cause permanent brain damage. The study was conducted by Dr. Harrison G. Pope and Dr. John H. Martz, who examined 48 individuals and found that those who regularly used cannabis still had the same IQ as people who didn’t smoke pot.
4. First patent for marijuana:
In 1972, the United States Patent Office issued its first patent for a marijuana-based invention — “Improvements in or relating to methods of detecting drug abuse by analysis of body fluids.” The invention was essentially a process that allowed technicians to detect cannabis in human blood and urine, which could then be used to prosecute users for drug offenses. This patent, which is listed under United States Patent No. 3,492,507 dates back to 1972 — and is still though to be in use by law enforcement today.
5. Prohibition leads to black market:
As cannabis became more widely available, it took on a reputation similar to that of liquor. The Drug Enforcement Administration made several efforts in the 1970s and 1980s to prosecute people for selling cannabis. In some cases, judges would sentence sellers of marijuana to prison terms of five years or longer just for selling marijuana and not the hard drugs like heroin or cocaine. The high costs of keeping drug addicts incarcerated for long time periods caused the cost of these prisons to soar — which then forced states such as California and Texas to build new prisons at great expense.
6. The first cannabis stock:
In 1972, the inventor of a new type of hair-straightening product named Dr. Bronner put his money where his mouth was and invested his own royalties in Hemp, Inc. — the first commercial corporation to be formed around the sale of marijuana.
7. First people jailed for cannabis:
In 1973, the first two people in American history were jailed for getting high on marijuana. John Sinclair and Larry Landry were each sentenced to nearly 10 years in jail for selling two joints to an undercover agent in Ann Arbor, Michigan — though Sinclair’s sentence was reduced on appeal to 4 years. The charges against Landry were later dropped.
8. First commercial cannabis farm:
The first commercial cannabis farm ever grown in the United States was started by brothers David, Andrew and Richard Williams in Massachusetts in 1975 — making them the first to supply medical patients with cannabis oil available through prescription.
9. First ever cannabis dispensary:
In 1974, the first ever medical marijuana dispensary was established in the United States. It specialized in helping cancer and glaucoma patients obtain medical marijuana legally — though it was shut down by federal officials three years later. Given how far cannabis has come since 1974, we feel like such an establishment could easily exist today, given modern legalization efforts on a national scale.
10. First ever cannabis-based patent:
In 1975, the inventor of a device that could be used to test for marijuana in human urine was granted a patent for this invention — “Method and Apparatus for Detecting the use of Marihuana (marijuana) or other drugs.” This invention apparently can still be found in use by police today. The patent was granted to Milton Glasser — who would later go on to serve five months in jail.