During the course of its history, the United States has both zealously embraced and vigorously outlawed the cannabis plant and its various products. Cultivation of the plant for its fibrous content was practically simultaneous with the founding of the early American colonies. Until the Civil War, hemp fiber continued to be a cash crop, the source of the rope that rigged many of the world's sailing ships and the rough fabric that covered westward-bound American pioneer wagons. Following the decline of the hemp rope and canvas industry in the second half of the nineteenth century, ingenious American entrepreneurs discovered other uses for Indian hemp. Paper industries began to use the fiber in the manufacture of fine-grade papers, including those used in Bibles and paper currency. In addition, birdseed manufacturers rated the cannabis seed, rich in sugar and albumin, second in quality only to the sunflower seed as an ingredient in their mixtures. It appeared as a reliable therapeutic in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia and National Formulary, and until 1937 tincture of cannabis could be prescribed by physicians as a remedy for a variety of ailments.
For centuries of American history, the use of the plant as an intoxicant was exceedingly rare. Indeed, it is generally assumed that knowledge of the plant's intoxicating properties was nonexistent; certainly Kentucky pioneers cultivated tons of hemp without a single recorded use of the plant as an intoxicant. As R. Blum has pointed out, there is no evidence that, simply because a plant is native or even cultivated as hemp is for fiber, there will be knowledge of its psychoactive properties.1 However, as a result of the increase of marihuana smoking in the southern states during the