Global awareness of cannabidiol CBD has grown phenomenally since the relatively recent changes to its legal status across the USA. Yet despite increased awareness, across the Atlantic the British public maintains a conservatively negative view of cannabis and its derived products. This film will take a look at cannabis and specifically CBD and try to understand where Britain’s scepticism originated and what social impact that has on its people.
How did cannabis get to Britain?
It’s believed that cannabis sativa originated in Central Asia and was first cultivated for its fibre. Even though it has been grown in China for at least 4500 years, it didn’t reach Europe until around 1500 BC.
Around 400AD cannabis started to be cultivated at Old Buckingham Mare, in England and then around 1000AD the word ‘hempe’ was added to the English dictionary. By which time cannabis was recognised for its medicinal and social use.
In 1150, the Moslems created the first paper mill in Europe using cannabis. This started an 850 year domination of using cannabis to make paper. It wasn’t until 1484 that we first start to see resistance to cannabis, when Pope Innocent VIII singled out cannabis as an unholy sacrament of the Satanic mass. Despite the just ten years later the production of hemp paper making started in England.
In 1563, Queen Elizabeth I decreed that landowners with 60 acres or more must grow cannabis or face the then hefty fine £5. Which led to the British exporting cannabis to Canada in 1606, to be grown mainly for maritime use.
The growth of the cannabis trade continued in the new world, America with trade wars and medicinal use further legitimizing cannabis as a valued commodity. In fact, in 1890, Queen Victoria’s personal physician, Sir Russell Reynolds, prescribed cannabis for her menstrual cramps. Then in the first issue of The Lancet, he wrote about cannabis stating “when pure and administered carefully, is one of the most valuable medicines we possess”.
The last 60 years
Despite controversy rising in the US it wasn’t until 1952 that the UK saw its first clamp down on cannabis use, when the Number 11 club in Soho was raided. Then in my birth year 1967 some 3000 held a “smoke-In” at Hyde park in July of that year. A year later Baroness Wooton, chair of a government select committee reports that cannabis is no more harmful than alcohol or tobacco.
However, in 1969, incoming Labour minister Jim Callaghan rejected the Wootton recommendations and introduced the Misuse of Drugs Act. Which prescribed that cannabis possession carries a maximum five years’ imprisonment, this Act remains in force to this day.
The topic is long and in-depth, however of a series of future posts I shall try to bring some clarity to the CBD marketplace and validity of demonisation of cannabis culture.