A look back at the rise of marijuana in the US

A cannabis plant on a marijuana farm in Mendocino County, California, September 2016.PlayDavid Miller/Olivia Smith/ABC News
WATCH Marijuana laws through the years

According to a new Yahoo-Marist poll released today, more than half of Americans admit to having used marijuana at least once in their lives. The drug occupies a unique place in America; the federal government has deemed it illegal but 29 states have legalized it for medicinal or recreational purposes.

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Here's a look back at the rise of marijuana in the U.S.

2,000 BC

Ancient Egyptians start using the drug after it arrives from India, according to a 2012 published paper. Marijuana eventually arrived in Europe, where Greek and Romans started using the marijuana plant for "its ropelike qualities as hemp" and "medical applications."


In the early 1900s U.S. states start to take action to limit marijuana consumption, especially since many people start to use it medicinally. Twenty-six states including Massachusetts, Indiana and California eventually put some limits on the consumption of marijuana, according to Ohio State University and Miami University.


The Harrison Narcotics Tax Act of 1914 prohibited certain drugs like opium and heroin, but marijuana was not included. Scientists studied the drug to find out if it had medicinal properties.


“Reefer Madness,” a fictional dramatic film chronicling the crimes committed by a group of young people as a result of getting hooked on marijuana, is released. Originally intended as a moralist movie, the film gained fame again in the 1970s – this time as a satire.


Federal Bureau of Narcotics Commissioner Harry Anslinger started a campaign against marijuana, eventually leading to the Marihuana Tax Act,, which curbed “the importation, cultivation, possession and/or distribution of marijuana were regulated.” It also restricted the use of marijuana as a recreational drug. During this time, scientific study of cannabis declined sharply.


Under the Controlled Substance Act of 1970, marijuana became an illegal Schedule 1 narcotic, putting it in same category as heroin. Drugs under this classification are determined to have a "high potential for abuse" and "no current accepted medical treatment."


Journalist Tom Forçade starts High Times, a magazine for marijuana aficionados.


Former President Bill Clinton, then the governor of Arkansas and the likely Democratic presidential nominee, famously described his experience with marijuana as a student in England, where possession of pot is illegal: “I didn’t inhale.”


California becomes the first state to legalize medical marijuana under the Compassionate Use Act of 1996.


Colorado and Washington become the first states to legalize cannabis for recreational use.


Currently 29 states have medical marijuana and cannabis programs.