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  • J. L. Campbell

Did Pilgrims Use Marijuana at the First Thanksgiving?

Was Cannabis a Part of the First Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving is almost here, and Missouri residents with a medical marijuana card may be looking to enjoy the relief of cannabis before their holiday meal. Some may even jazz up their dessert with some pumpkin spice edibles. Perhaps no other American holiday complements medical marijuana the way a Thanksgiving feast does.

This annual tradition is all about sharing a communal meal and being grateful for what you have, while chowing down on a smorgasbord of righteous side dishes, desserts, and the star of the show - turkey (or Tofurkey for our vegan friends)!

This had us begging the question - was cannabis part of Thanksgiving from day one? Did the pilgrims and native Americans begin this long standing tradition by passing a pipe before passing appetizers? Did they smoke a bowl in the name of cultural harmony? The short answer is… maybe.

There is definitely some evidence to support the idea of marijuana being present in colonial settlements at least around the time of the first Thanksgiving. Here’s what we know:

Cannabis was already in use for thousands of years.

The first recorded instance of marijuana use happened over 2,500 years ago in the region that is home to present-day China, where archaeologists recently discovered cannabis residue on ancient pots in tombs in the Pamir mountains, a region near the borders of modern China, Pakistan and Tajikistan.

Colonists brought cannabis to America.

Not only did colonists bring cannabis to America - they were commanded to cultivate it. In 1611, a full decade before the first Thanksgiving, Great Britain’s King James issued an edict requiring colonists to farm and experiment with hemp. What is unclear, is whether or not the hemp that was cultivated is what we consider marijuana or its cousin, the lower-THC, modern day hemp plant.

Hemp or Marijuana? It’s Difficult to Tell

While cannabis crops were a huge part of colonial life, scholars differ on which type of cannabis was grown - hemp or marijuana. Both plants are part of the cannabis family, but hemp doesn’t contain a high enough level of THC to give smokers the psychoactive high the marijuana plant provides.

Medical Marijuana DID exist - but not until later.

There is a longstanding debate on whether or not George Washington cultivated hemp simply as a farmer, or if he actually enjoyed the effects of marijuana. A Consumer Reports article from way back in 1972 found a passage in the founding father’s diary that "clearly indicates that he was cultivating the plant for medicinal purposes as well as for it's fiber." Of course, Washington wasn’t even born until a century after the first Thanksgiving.

Cannabis made its first entry into the United States Pharmacopeia in 1850, long before pop culture stigma would create a false narrative around marijuana use, as a treatment for a wide variety of disorders. According to The 420 Times, “marijuana was readily available in pharmacies and general stores during the late 1800s and didn’t require a prescription.”

Native American cultures have a history of embracing cannabis.

Native American cultures have widely been known to embrace natural healing. According to the blog on, “many believe that Native American ceremonial pipes, or peace pipes, used ceremonially to offer prayers, or seal a covenant, contained cannabis. But the short answer to that is, there’s no evidence of that, either. Eastern tribes, like those the Pilgrims would have encountered, used tobacco in their pipes.”

Pot Guide goes on to state that Native Americans did embrace the healing powers of cannabis, “but whether they used it in that capacity before the arrival of the English colonists is up for debate.”

We may never know for sure if marijuana was part of the first Thanksgiving, but we are thankful that it can be part of this year’s holiday, especially for those card carrying patients in need of the plant’s natural healing properties.

Get your medical marijuana card before Thanksgiving.

You’ll be thankful for how quick and easy it is to see if you qualify for a Missouri medical marijuana card. Our team of physicians are standing by to take you through a quick and easy evaluation. Schedule an appointment with a marijuana doctor, or give us a call at (877) 303-3117 to talk to a patient support representative today!


Doctors Who Care.

Relief You Can Trust.

At Missouri Marijuana Card, our mission is helping everyone achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to medical marijuana. Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce the stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.

Call us at (877) 303-3117, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!

Check out Missouri Marijuana Card’s Blog to keep up to date on the latest medical marijuana news, tips, and information. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to join the medical marijuana conversation in Missouri

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