The History of Marijuana in Britain

Britain has a history with marijuana that dates back to the 16th century, when cannabis cultivation in Britain had reached its peak. During this time, there was a high demand to build and maintain ships, which created a boom in the hemp market because the strong fibers were crucial for building. By 1533, King Henry VIII actually issued laws requiring British farmers to grow hemp, and thirty years later Queen Elizabeth I increased this amount farmers were obligated to grow. These requirements eventually became difficult to hit because the British were quickly running out of land to grow enough hemp, which actually became a dominating motive behind England’s colonization of the world.

By the 18th century, cannabis was gaining attention in the medical world so much that even Queen Victoria was given it by her doctor to relieve pain. This eventually changed when cannabis was outlawed at the turn of the century following the international drug conference in Geneva in 1928, which convinced Britain that marijuana was a threat to society as dangerous as opium. The law did little to stop the recreational use of the drug, because it gained more popularity in the ‘50s when Caribbean immigrants moved to the UK, which flooded into the counterculture in the 1960s. Now, there are no plans to legalize cannabis in the UK, though many are fighting for it.


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