The earliest references to cannabis come from Asia (Taiwan and China). In the centuries that followed, cannabis is used as a raw material for clothing, rope, fishnets and medicine.
Cannabis can be found throughout all of northern Asia and Europe in the Stone Age. A couple of years ago, the oldest discovery in the Netherlands was made near Hattemerbroek: cannabis pollen was found in a Neolithic-era grave (older than 2200 B.C.).
Cannabis is also used in Arabian lands, as evidenced in a later discovery of parts of a hemp plant in the mummified remains of Pharaoh Ramses II. Cannabis spreads across Africa from the Arab world.
The Greeks and Romans use cannabis as medicine - for example, to improve digestion and as a remedy for earaches and menstrual pain. Also to promote general happiness with cannabis cookies.
In Europe, the hemp plant is used to make textiles, shoes, rope, ships' sails and paper. But the plant is also popular for its intoxicating and healing properties.
Paper made of hemp contributes to the rapid growth of the art of book publishing in the fifteenth century. The first printed book, the Gutenberg Bible, was made of hemp paper.
The VOC sailing ships use sails and ropes made from hemp. An average ship required roughly 15 miles worth of rope and hundreds of square feet of canvas (woven fabric made of hemp).
Cannabis grows in the garden of George Washington, the first US president. He is aware of its medical properties. Cannabis was freely available in the US a that time.
In France, Charles Baudelaire (1821–1867), the author of Les Fleurs du Mal, gives cannabis extra notoriety as an intoxicating substance. He writes several of his most famous works under the influence of cannabis.
At the end of the nineteenth century, Dutch druggists regularly sell extracts of cannabis. The medicine is known under the name Extraxtum Cannabis Indicae. It is used for seizures, asthma, cramps, sleep disorders and migraine.
The production of hemp fiber was a difficult and labor-intensive process. Due to a lack of mechanization and the rise of such alternatives as cotton and jute for textile production and wood pulp for paper production, the cultivation of hemp for industrial purposes decreases sharply.
International opium conference in The Hague. Countries make agreements abut the trade in opium. In 1919, the Netherlands passes its first Opium Law; the second follows in 1928. Cannabis products fall under the aegis of this second law.
The United States bans the use and cultivation of cannabis. During the Second World War, the United States needs hemp for parachutes, fuel, ships' ropes and uniforms. Farmers are called on to cultivate hemp extensively. After WWII, the cultivation of hemp is banned once again.
The American car manufacturer Henry Ford builds a car with a body made of hemp (10 times stronger than steel). It was likely that the Rockefellers and their steel industry resisted the further use of hemp in the auto industry.
The Dutch Opium Law is changed. The distinction between cannabis products (soft drugs) and drugs with an unacceptable risk (hard drugs) is legally established. A policy of tolerance arises that ignores house dealers.
A new coffee shop policy goes into effect in Amsterdam with more stringent guidelines. The number of coffee shops had increased greatly in the 80s and 90s. The new policy is a reaction to this.
Introduction of the weed pass, an expression of the government's increasingly stringent policy of tolerance. Coffee shops must become private clubs, accessible only to people with a weed pass. You must register in order to obtain a weed pass. The existence of coffee shops is threatened.