In its article "A Brief History of Cannabis," Clear Choice Cannabis details the origins of the plant:
Cannabis comes from Central Asia. The very first cannabis plants are thought to have originated near Mongolia, in the vast plains of Siberia. As nomads migrated through these lands, cannabis slowly dispersed into the greater world. Marijuana had many uses to its first cultivators. Out of this period, our understanding of the plant developed to include the manufacture of hemp. These civilizations were the first to use hemp to make rope, clothing, linens, and a variety of other products.
Hemp, a variety of the cannabis sativa subspecies with very low THC content, was "the first plant to be domestically cultivated around 8000 B.C. in Mesopotamia," according to MadeHow.com. It spread throughout the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Europe, cherished for its widespread use in food, medicine, and a plethora of industrial applications such as paper and fabric.
During the 17th century, at the height of the colonial era, hemp finally made its way to North America. Farmers grew hemp as a cash crop, cashing in on the plant’s vast industrial utility. Thomas Jefferson even drafted the Declaration of Independence on hemp paper. After more than two centuries, hemp was eventually replaced by other materials (such as cotton) — but not before people began to notice the medical properties of the cannabis plant.
According to History.com, the recreational usage of cannabis began to surge in the early 20th century. As cannabis became more popular in American culture, the negative stigma around the plant grew at an equal rate. Although it was legal at the time to sell regulated cannabis products in drug stores and pharmacies, prohibitionists eventually landed a huge victory with the passage of the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, “originally passed to levy taxes on hemp products and on the commercial sales of cannabis products.” This new taxation greatly reduced the trafficking of cannabis products in America and would lay the foundation for future federal and state prohibitions.
Cannabis was stigmatized and prohibited for the better part of the remaining century, with even stricter laws passing in the 1970s (although some states, beginning with Oregon, started decriminalizing cannabis use in the same decade). But the tides seem to be changing. When California voters officially legalized medical cannabis in 1996, other states followed suit. The dominoes began to fall.
CA citizens pass Proposition 215 (i.e. the Compassionate Use Act), the first instance of voter-approved medical cannabis legalization in the country. Certified users could now legally grow and possess certain amounts of the plant, and medical co-ops formed to treat patients with cannabis prescriptions.
The CA state legislature votes to pass three bills, known collectively as the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MCRSA), which would create “a state licensing and regulatory system for the existing medical market.” This system led to the establishment of the Bureau of Cannabis Control, CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing, and Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch, the licensing authorities that would govern the state’s growing medical cannabis industry.
Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), is passed by voters. Adults age 21 and over could now "legally grow, possess, and use cannabis for non-medicinal purposes, with certain restrictions." The legislation also made it legal for regulated businesses to distribute cannabis starting in 2018.
MCRSA and AUMA are combined by the state legislature with Senate Bill 94. The new Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA) is born, creating “a single regulatory system [that] governs the medicinal and adult-use cannabis industry in California.”