Marijuana has a long history thousands of years old, dating around 500 BC in Asia. Since then, cannabis has traveled across the ocean to the United States way before it became the nation it is today, with completely different marijuana laws than today. Also like today, many of these laws varied between states, or at that time between colonies. Many of the early colonists grew hemp because it is fast-growing and easy to cultivate, which is helpful since it was used for clothing, sails, rope, and paper. For this reason, during the early 1600s, the Virginia, Massachusetts, and Connecticut colonies required farmers to grow hemp.
Virginia has a history with marijuana that is hundreds of years old. The early colonists and farmers continued growing hemp in Virginia for years and the Legislature moved forward with legislation again by 1979. The law allowed doctors to prescribe marijuana to treat glaucoma and to help cancer patients cope with the side effects of their chemotherapy. Many opponents of marijuana legalization expressed opposition to this law, "I don't want people who, having found out that this law is on the books, will misconstrue it to think that we think it is a good idea to smoke marijuana.” Many representatives were still continuing to fight to outlaw marijuana, which may be why other marijuana laws in the state of Virginia are still very harsh. Virginia is now moving in the right direction though, as the state government studies whether marijuana should be decriminalized. A study by the Virginia State Crime Commission will hopefully determine that marijuana can be beneficial to all of Virginia.