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Cannabis use was first documented in the fifth century BC, when the Greek historian Herodotus observed that the Scythians (Russian nomads) burnt it in small tents, inhaling it collectively.

The Chinese started using cannabis as a herbal medicine for its pain- relieving properties in the first century AD.

Western medicine did not discover its benefits until the 1840s. Queen Victoria's physician was one of many who began prescribing it for various illnesses.

The growth of jazz clubs in the 1950s and immigration from the West Indies led to its popularity as a recreational drug in this country.

Cannabis was outlawed after an Egyptian delegate at an international opium conference in the 1920s made an impassioned plea for Britain to include it in any agreement on the prohibition of opiates.

In 1973 the Misuse of Drugs Act outlawed the use of cannabis medicinally. Under the Act, it is an offence to allow any premises under your control to be used for growing, preparing, supplying or smoking cannabis.