Monday, June 17, 2024

Was There Marijuana In The Old West

Yellowstone has been a big hit – but it makes you wonder – did they have weed in the old west?

Some would say the cannabis industry today is a wild west, but did they have weed in the days of cowboys, outlaws, and cattle rides?  Yellowstone is a huge hit and followed Deadwood which brought back the western.  Boomers grew up on Bonanza, Wild Wild West, Big Valley and more.  So the idea of a the guy on a horse riding the range is pretty much set.  You see them with tobacco, but what about a blunt?

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We know they drank. For an estimated population in the American frontier of about 400,000 between the Sierras and the Pacific, a remarkable amount of booze was imported in just 1853. This included 20,000 barrels of whiskey (about 650K gallons) and 400 barrels of rum (13K gallons). And beer, which is a bit different than todays, was huge – 2 million gallons in 1853. So they were all about the intoxication.

Cowboy has a rough life and money was hard to come by. Marijuana was a cheap alternative to tobacco, and, since it was ubiquitous in the west by the late 1800s, it was readily available when and where tobacco wasn’t. This remained true at least into the 1930s, and to some extent after criminalization of marijuana possession and use into the 1950s among the indigent. Federal restriction of cannabis use and cannabis sale first occurred in 1937 with the passage of the Marijuana Tax Act.

Cowboys had a rough life and cannabis would be a balm.  Smoked, it would help them wind down after a long day.  Cowboys worked over 15 hours a day herding and taking care of cattle, working a ranch and doing other physical jobs.  Often a “relaxing” evening was grabbing food outside near a fire and sleeping on the ground.  Baths and a change of clothes were few and far between.

The medical benefits would help them with soreness, sleeping and chronic pain. This would ease

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Did you know 8 to 12 cowboys her about 3,000 head of cattle.  The unusual daily travel was about 15 miles in a day. Any more and the cattle would lose too much weight and arrive too thin.

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