A Joint History.
The story of how rolling papers, joints, and cannabis followed us through history.
When we look back to the beginning of rolling papers, most people were consuming cannabis and/or tobacco through pipes or water apparatus'.
It wasn't until the early 1400s when Christopher Columbus had discovered that a group of people native to Cuba was rolling their tobacco in large leaves. This quick and convenient way to consume without a pipe was ramped throughout Europe by the 1600s. Cigars had become the go-to for the upper-class portion of the population. The ends of the cigar were discarded, most times out windows on to the streets.
Near the end of the Italian War, there was an exchange of thin papers and champaign that would define the 'creator' of rolling papers. This is still debated a bit today amongst the industry...
The actual origin of rolling papers is up for debate with the story roughly being that Alexandro Rizlette de Cramptone Lacroix traded a bottle of champagne for ‘rolling' papers being brought back from Spain. The exchange of these thin papers and champagne took place around 1553 as the French were returning from Spain.
The rumor is that Lacroix brought the papers back to his home town in France and in 1660 'copied' it and produced the first-ever paper designed for rolling.
This was followed by many companies popping up throughout Spain and France. It was not until a company innovated the packaging with interlacing papers in a zig-zag pattern that another major french rolling paper company had emerged. Spain was one of the leaders in the papermaking industry that had small rolling paper companies appearing all over.
But what about cannabis…
Cannabis made its way across the world through trade routes and the industrialization of hemp. For North America, Mexico experienced this in the 1600s. Spain had come to cultivate hemp for rope and other textiles.
Years later they found that the Indigenous Peoples of Mexico had started cultivating the plants of their own. They started consuming cannabis primarily for spiritual and therapeutic purposes mirroring the rest of the world at the time. (This would change in decades to come. Our Joint stories just have to meet here.)
The Spanish also controlled the majority of the tobacco trade at the time, as well as one of the major players in the paper industry.
When the Spanish brought their rolling papers over which had been competing with the two massive french rolling paper companies. In the late 1700s early 1800s it is thought that the Indigenous Peoples of Mexico and the working population were the first to mix their tobacco with cannabis. This was later recorded for the first time in 1856 at the University of Guadalajara.
In the early 1900s cannabis began to take off as a medicine. Not only oils and tinctures but joints as well. This normalized use of cannabis was especially common in the music and creative scene. With jazz even claiming its own marijuana (jazz) cigarette.
The cultivation of cannabis, whether hemp or its psychoactive counterparts art, was prevalent throughout North America.
It was a hard time in the 1930s. The market had crashed and left many people in difficult times. This was also a time of massive immigration from Mexico throughout the rest of North America.
Political and social unrest built up in America prompting the creation of racially biased new laws that demonized cannabis and illegal to consume.
Cannabis was the second most recreationally used drug in the Vietnam War. The soldiers would run down to local shops and pick up joints in the packaging of cigarettes.
As soldiers came home from war their consumption of cannabis did not stop they joined the many social groups across North America who were also consuming cannabis.
One of these groups was the beat poets. Allen Ginsberg, Burrough, and Jack Kerouac were some of the best known.
These intellectual writers approached drugs as experimental and to provide creative insight to their work. They would converse and write about deep moral issues and scholarly topics like liberalism and human rights.
Cannabis was one of the more common drugs among social events which were one of the elements passed on to the next generation…Hippies.
The beats had grown into a massive counterculture community. With radicals, rockers, bikers, and hippies, and more. These groups were mostly based around socializing but often had a political opinion. In the mid-1960s the newly popularized hippy group lead an opposition to the war in Vietnam. Suspicious of the government and rejecting consumerist values the hippies started to protest.
The summer of love was in 1967 where 100,000 hippies people moved into one neighborhood. With laws cracking down on drug use the users often had sessions to oppose the laws… including The Human Be-In as well as various "smoke-ins”.
This lead to many protests and movements that helped end the Vietnam war. Along with the end of the war came the end of the hippy movement. The joints however did not burn out.
The writers, artists, and musicians of the ’80s kept rockin and rollin cannabis. With almost every subculture of art and music having their legends and icons puffing on a joint - it was clear cannabis was a part of the lifestyle.
The 90’s in Canada were starting off hot! With a Canadian team winning the Stanley Cup, the introduction of GST and NAFTA, and music that will haunt us forever - we were sparking up more doobies than ever.
With influences from Bob Marley and the new emerging music genre, rap/ hip-hop, cannabis became more mainstream with 18-29 year-olds consumption rates jumping from 18% to 28%. Along with this increased mainstream use, came increased policing and jail time for drug-related offenses.
With a building grassroots advocacy presence and the increasing use of cannabis as medicine - Canadians fought and won the right to use medical cannabis in 2001. The government passed the MMPR in 2002 and allowed (some) Canadians access to medical cannabis.
With increasing grassroots advocacy and political pressure, Canada tried to pass decriminalization plans in 2003 and 2004 but to no avail. Finally, in 2017 Justin Trudeau put cannabis legalization on his platform and a bill to legalize cannabis was in parliament by July 2018.
On Oct 17, 2018, Canada became the first G8 country to legalize cannabis on a federal level, and the second nation (after Uruguay) worldwide to legalize cannabis.
Joints have been a connector for people for decades, and as we celebrate Legalization 2.0 on this Oct 17, 2019, let us not forget to celebrate together. Spark a joint with an old friend and connect, take some needed time to visit your old sesh spot, find a circle, and jump on in.
Remember, Canadians have been chopping trees and rolling logs since the birth of our nation.