The history of cannabis and the science behind it. 


Prohibition is the action of forbidding something, especially by law. Now, what is Cannabis Prohibition? We are living through it. It is the complete ban on cannabis and cannabis derived products. Although in many states, cannabis use is legal, federally, cannabis is a scheduled I drug. This means that in the eyes of the US government, cannabis has zero health benefits and is a federally banned substance.

Why is Cannabis a banned substance?

We have to go back to the early 1900s and look at what was happening in the U.S. Around the 1920s, after the Mexican Revolution, southern states like Louisiana and Texas had an increase of migrants from Mexico, these migrants brought their culture, traditions, language and “Marijuana.” The epidemiology of the word “marijuana,” is found to be of holistic healing & a social nature. ‘Mari-guana’ is said to have meant Mother Nature Remedy before the Spanish invaded Mexico. From the Mexican-American War, “to marijuana” was similar to meeting a friend for happy hour to socialize over a joint. 
All-in-all, American
bad policy created the demonization of the word “marijuana.” 

American’s were very familiar with cannabis because it was commonly found in pharmaceuticals, oral tinctures, ointments and creams. The one thing Americans weren’t familiar with was the word “Marijuana.”  

Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong, a famous Jazz musician, vocalized his relationship with marijuana, he is quoted, “It really puzzles me to see Marijuana connected with Narcotics — Dope and all that . . . it’s a thousand times better than whiskey…it’s an Assistant and a friend.’’


Louis were not the only population who were targeted, members of the jazz/music community and people of color and poverty were also heavily attacked. Jazz musician Louis Armstrong was a long time consumer and advocate of cannabis, praising cannabis for its stimulating, creative effects and publicly voiced the foolishness of bans on cannabis.

“Armstrong’s wife, Lucille, was arrested by federal narcotics agents at a hotel on Waikiki Beach. A U.S. customs inspector found one cannabis cigarette and two half-smoked stubs, the weight of which totaled an impressive 14.8 grams. The cannabis was found in Lucille Armstrong’s eyeglasses case, but it was widely speculated that the stash belonged to Louis. Her arrest prompted Louis to sit down at the Alexander Hamilton Hotel in San Francisco and write a lengthy letter to his manager, Joe Glaser, on the topic of gage. “Mr. Glaser, you must see to it that I have special permission to smoke all the reefers that I want to when I want or I will just have to put this horn down, that’s all.” Armstrong was fed up with prohibition long before legalization was even a consideration. “I can gladly vouch for a nice, fat stick of gage, which relaxes my nerves, if I have any…I can’t afford to be…tense, fearing that any minute I’m going to be arrested, brought to jail for a silly little minor thing like marijuana.”

“I think the traffic has increased in marihuana, and unfortunately particularly among the young people. We have been running into a lot of traffic among these jazz musicians, and I am not speaking about the good musicians, but the jazz type.”- Harry Anslinger

“Because the chief effect [of marijuana] as far as [jazz musicians] were concerned was that it lengthens the sense of time, and therefore they could get more grace beats into their music than they could if they simply followed the written copy… In other words, if you’re a musician, you’re going to play the thing the way it’s printed on a sheet. But if you’re using marijuana, you’re going to work in about twice as much music between the first note and the second note. That’s what made jazz musicians. The idea that they could jazz things up, liven them up, you see.” -Harry Anslinger

Harry Anslinger

Harry J. Anslinger, commonly referred to as the “Godfather of the cannabis prohibition,” was commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics from 1930-1962. He was the scapegoat for a small group of white men (mostly government officials). For three decades, Ansliger fed propaganda to the media which all labeled “marijuana” as the cause. He proceeded to use the same stories and headlines to justify cannabis prohibition. His propaganda often focused on racist themes and misinformation. He was often quoted in newspapers, “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men…Marijuana is an addictive drug which produces in its users insanity, criminality, and death.” On August 27, 1937 Harry Anslinger declared cannabis more dangerous than opium. This statement, along with other factors including the making of the propaganda film Reefer Madness, led to the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act.

Also Anslinger had major influence on all drug-related policies up until his death in 1975. 

1936 Reefer Madness

In 1936, one of the most infamous cannabis movies hit the big screen, Reefer Madness. The film claims that by trying marijuana, the average citizen becomes instantly addicted and more likely to commit crimes like manslaughter, suicide, attempted rape, and descent into total madness. Funded by then media mogul, William Randolph Hearst. Most likely, Hearst supported cannabis prohibition because of his paper-producing companies were starting to be replaced by hemp. The 1937 Marijuana Tax Act included all cannabis plants even hemp which has only trace amounts of THC. DuPont’s investment in nylon was also threatened by hemp products and in turn, DuPont also supported cannabis prohibition and propaganda such as Reefer Madness.

1937 Marihuana Tax Act

The 1937 Marihuana Tax Act was drafted by Harry Anslinger and introduced to congress by Robert Lee Doughton, who was a wealthy banker and North Carolina congressman. It went into effect on October 1, 1937 and imposed an occupation tax on dealers of cannabis and imposed a transfer tax on cannabis. If this tax was not paid, it was a criminal offense. Yet, it also banned or prohibited the use, cultivation, and sale of any cannabis plant, which renders the tax portion defunct.

1944 La Guardia Report

The 1944 La Guardia Committee was formed by New York Mayor Fiorella LaGuardia and the New York Academy of Medicine, to research the effects of smoking marijuana and impact on communities. It was the first U.S. report on marijuana and contradicted every claim from Harry Anslinger and the US Treasury Department. Anslinger used his politic pull to discredit the report, resulting in claims that the committee was unscientific and all cannabis research came to an end.

1952 Boggs Act

In 1952, Mr. Hale Boggs, a representative from Louisiana, carried the Boggs act into congress. This established the first mandatory minimums for drug offenders and minimum jail sentences for narcotic crimes. First offense marijuana charges came with a minimum sentence of 2-10 years and up to $20,000 fines. The Boggs Act lead to the drastic increase of imprisonment amongst people of color and poverty.

1969 Timothy Leary vs. Marihuana Tax Act

In 1965, Professor Tim Leary driving from New York through Texas and was arrested for cannabis possession. He took the Marihuana Tax Act to the supreme court claiming that the act required self-incrimination and violated the fifth amendment. Leary won the ruling and it overturned Leary’s conviction and the Marihuana Tax Act itself, but led to the Nixon administration’s Controlled Substance Act of 1970.

1970 Controlled Substance Act

After the Marihauna Tax being ruled unconstitutional, Nixon put into place the 1970 Controlled Substance Act. The federal U.S. drug policy regulates the manufacture, importation, possession, use and distribution of certain narcotics, stimulants, depressants and hallucinogens. The act classifies cannabis along side heroin as a Schedule 1 Drug, defining cannabis as highly addictive and having no health benefits. The United States abides by these classifications today.


In 1972, Pennsylvania Governor Raymond P. Schafer, commissioned a report calling for the decriminalization of Marihuana. The research was supported by the Nixon Administration. Similar to the 1944 La Guardia report, the Schafer report declared that cannabis should not be a Schedule I Drug and be decriminalized. The Nixon Administration ignored the findings and proceeded to have the report discredited as unscientific.

Dennis Peron

Commonly referred to as, the father of Medical Marijuana, Dennis Peron was a cannabis activist that drafted compassion care cannabis policies Prop P in San Francisco and Prop 215 for California. During the AIDs epidemic in 1990, Dennis Peron pursued Prop P, a local ordinance in San Fransisco, to legalize medical marijuana for AIDs patients. Prop 215, which ultimately started the end of the war on drugs, was the first ever state medical marijuana ballot initiative passed.

1996 Prop 215 In California

In 1996, California became the first state to pass legal medical marijuana law by passing Prop 215. The Compassionate Use Act of Prop 215 exempts patients and defined caregivers who possess or cultivate marijuana for medical treatment from criminal charges.


March 23, 2010 The Long Beach city council adopted an ordinance which added Chapter 5.87 started to meet in response to city ordinance. City of Long Beach passes 5.87, allowing medical cannabis in the City of Long Beach. This was the first ordinance allowing cultivation and dispensing of medical cannabis within the city. Shortly after, in 2011, the Long Beach Collective Association became an established organization to help city council with cannabis regulations.


On Nov 6, 2012, Colorado passed amendment 64 which legalizes recreational cannabis consumption for recreational us for adults 21 and older. Amendment 64 allowed the commercial cultivation, manufacture, and sale of recreational cannabis. Shortly after, Washington state legalized cannabis possession with Initiative 502. Both states passed initiatives with over 55% approval.

Long Beach

In 2012, The Pack Vs City of Long Beach case resulted in the city wide ban on cannabis. Once the ban was set in place, dispensaries were allowed 6 months of operations and on August 12, 2012 the dispensaries shut down operations and turned to campaign efforts to work on a voter led ballot initiative ordinance.


In 2016, California voters approved Proposition 64, the Adult use of Marijuana Act (AUMA). Although, it is up to local governments to vote on implementation into cities or continue prohibition. Prop 64 also introduced the largest retro-active reclassification that reduces criminal penalties for most remaining marijuana offenses from felonies to misdemeanors and some misdemeanors to infractions.Prop 64 Passed with 63% California voters approval.

Long Beach

Ballot initiative MM, with more than enough signatures, reached the Long Beach November 2016 ballot and passed with 60% of Long Beach votes.


In 2017, California state law was signed for integration of MCRSA with AUMA to create the Medicinal & Adult-Use Cannabis Regulations & Safety Act (MAUCRSA). This is the single regulatory system that governs the medicinal and adult-use cannabis Industry.

tax moderation of 2019


Long Beach adopts adult-use cannabis ordinance and announces reclassification (expungement)  clinic efforts.


The LBCA has helped to educate policymakers and engage the community at large in cannabis education. The organization brought back in medical cannabis with a voter-based initiative in 2016, assisted the city with adult-use regulations, led and succeeded in tax moderation for distribution, manufacturing, and laboratory licenses bringing the tax from 6% to 1%, and helped the city pivot to Covid-19 essential business roll out.


The Science behind cannabis, its molecular structure, and how it works biologically.  

The Endocannabinoid system (ECS)

The Endocannabinoid system (ECS) - also called the Endogenous Cannabinoid System - is the base behind scientific cannabis research. The ECS is one of the major nervous systems found in mammals. ECS regulates the body's natural homeostasis ensuring that all systems work in sync with one another. In the early 1960s, scientists successfully isolated and identified two phytocannabinoids, Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD) and two endocannabinoids, Anadamide and 2-AG.


Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)

Cannabidiol (CBD)


Anandamide (ANA)

2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG)

Cannabinoid Receptors

The Endocannabinoid system is comprised of two main receptors CB1 (Cannabinoid Receptor 1) and CB2 (Cannabinoid Receptor 2). CB1 is mainly found in the central nervous system and CB2 is usually found in the immune and the peripheral nervous systems. Since these receptors are so abundant in the body, they play a crucial role at almost every level of optimal health, from controlling temperature to managing PH levels.

Cannabinoid Receptors 1 (CB1) and. Cannabinoid Receptors 2 (CB2) occur naturally in the body and interact with the body’s own endocannabinoids.

CB1 receptors are primarily located on nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. CB1 is also found in the spleen, endocrine gland, and parts of the reproductive system.


CB2 receptors are mostly found in the immune system, tonsils, and the spleen. In the immune system, the important function of CB2 is the regulation of cytokine release.

This function is believed to have therapeutic roles in the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease. Selective CB2 receptor agonists have also become increasingly popular subjects of research for their potential anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects.

Anandamide, an endocannabinoid neurotransmitter, which regulates, pleasure, motivation, and hunger. Anandamide appears naturally in the body and is commonly released after working out, it is responsible for the “runners high,” as well as the feeling of love and effects felt after eating chocolate. 

Anandamide is often called the “bliss molecule,” named after ananda, the Sanskrit word for “joy, bliss, or happiness.” Like THC, anandamide is a cannabinoid, but one that your body makes. THC mimics the actions of anandamide, meaning that THC binds with cannabinoid receptors and activates neurons, which causes adverse effects on the mind and body

2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) is another important endocannabinoid neurotransmitter that regulates the transmission of signals in the brain and interacts primarily with CB2 but, also has some effects on CB1. 2- AG reduces pain and acts as a mediator of inflammatory and immune reactions. In immune cells, 2-AG is produced in response to injury and reduces inflammation.

Endocannabinoid System and THC

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THCa) is the most abundant cannabinoid. The plant itself does not actually create Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which provides the most intoxication effects. Cannabis actually produces THCa, which does not become psychoactive until it’s property is changed usually by heat, dropping the acid compound to become Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol  or THC. THC binds with with CB1 in the brain, causing a euphoric or “high” feeling in the same way the body’s own Anandamide causes euphoric effects. THC helps with a variety of symptoms and conditions such pain relief, stress, appetite, and nausea.

Endocannabinoid System and CBD

Cannabidiol (CBD) is the second most abundant cannabinoid. CBD (Cannabidiol) is a natural compound found in cannabis and interacts with the body’s natural endocannabinoid system. Cannabidiol is non intoxicating, meaning it will not have a euphoric or “high” feeling but rather a calming relaxed effect.

CBD does not actually fit into either CB1 or CB2 receptors, rather it stimulates both receptors causing reactions and effects without binding. CBD facilitates growth of more receptors and increases the amount of endocannabinoids in the body. CBD has been used to treat epilepsy, inflammation, glaucoma, pain relief, sleep issues, and has anti-cancer properties.

“Endocannabinoids and their receptors are found throughout the body: in the brain, organs, connective tissues, glands, and immune cells. In each tissue, the cannabinoid system performs different tasks, but the goal is always the same: homeostasis, the maintenance of a stable internal environment despite fluctuations in the external environment.” – Dr. Dustin Sulak

Types of cannabinoids

Phytocannabinoids are cannabinoids that occur naturally in the cannabis plant. Phytocannabinoids are found in many other plants outside of the Cannabis species; like clove, black pepper, Echinacea, broccoli, ginseng, and carrots. 

Synthetic Cannabinoids are man made, mind-altering, chemicals that is commonly sprayed on dried plant like material and is consumed by smoking. Effects of synthetic cannabinoids can be unpredictable and severe possibly life-threatening. Due to chemical composition of many synthetic cannabinoid products, effects commonly change from batch to batch.

Phytocannabinoids – Plants produce phytocannabinoids such as CBD.  Phytocannabinoids are only found in the plants not the human ECS. 

Endocannabinoids – Mammals produce endocannabinoids such as 2-AG and Anandamide   

Synthetic cannabinoids are in a product called “spice” or K2 mostly found in the illicit market and in smoke shops. Spice is dangerous and could be fatal 

Phytocannabinoids are only found in the plants not the human ECS 

Although most people have now heard of cannabadiol (CBD), it is only one of many cannabinoids in the cannabis species. THC and CBD are the most abundant phytocannabinoids, the reason why they are the most researched.  

Notable Phytocannabinoids

Although most people have now heard of cannabadiol (CBD), it is only one of many cannabinoids in the ECS. Two other notable phytocannabinoids include: Cannabichromene and Cannabigerol. Cannabichromene (CBC) was first studied in the 1980s when it was found to modulate a normal inflammatory response. More recently CBC has been shown to promote brain health, skin health, and regulates the digestive system. Cannabigerol (CBG) is continuously being studied for its ability to support nervous system health.  CBG also provides support for the immune system, skin health, and overall mood. CBG is typically found in much higher concentrations in industrial hemp than in cannabis. Both CBG and CBC are non intoxicating meaning you will not have a euphoria or “high” feeling.

Two other notable phytocannabinoids include: Cannabichromene and Cannabigerol. Cannabichromene (CBC) was first studied in the 1980s when it was found to modulate a normal inflammatory response. More recently CBC has been shown to promote brain health, skin health, and regulates the digestive system. Cannabigerol (CBG) is continuously being studied for its ability to support nervous system health.  CBG also provides support for the immune system, skin health, and overall mood. CBG is typically found in much higher concentrations in industrial hemp than in cannabis. Both CBG and CBC are non intoxicating meaning you will not have a euphoria or “high” feeling.

With the legalization and decriminalization of cannabis, cannabis research is at a all time high and mostly found outside the U.S. Scientists are still making new discoveries about the endocannabinoid system and how it works with phytocannabinoids found in cannabis.



Do you have a passion for cannabis and want to get involved? Volunteer with the LBCA and help make a difference in the cannabis community. 

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