5 Facts About How Cannabis Was Used in World War I

World War I began in 1914 with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and ended in 1918 when the Allied Powers claimed victory. The war was fought between the Central Powers, which consisted of Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and the Ottoman Empire, and the Allied Powers, which included Great Britain, France, Russia, Italy, Romania, Japan, and the United States. The First World War saw unprecedented levels of carnage and destruction with more than 16 million deaths. In order to fight this long war, the military, navy, and air force required unlimited resources, which included cannabis.

Even during the most difficult time like World War I, cannabis was used all across the world. First, for many years cannabis wasn’t used as a drug, but this changed during the war as Mexican immigrants flooded the United States. The Mexicans brought cannabis with them, which they used as a psychoactive drug that they introduced into American culture. The United States quickly feared the effects of marijuana, but many continued to use the plant for other purposes during the war. Hemp fiber was crucial to produce strong military equipment, like marine cordage, parachutes, and other necessities needed for war across the world, so the plant was utilized for more than just its psychoactive properties.

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It’s no secret that my husband and I are longtime cannabis and hemp advocates. We’ve cheered as the majority of Americans have come around to supporting legalization, and applauded as cannabis law reform spreads from state to state. Still, decades of prohibitionist propaganda have left many in the dark about the powerful wellness potential of these long-demonized plants.

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