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YESCA: NOUN. A CHICANO SLANG TERM FOR MARIJUANA


In the 1530s, one of the Spaniards led by Hernan Cortes set his forced indigenous laborers to planting Spanish hemp in the highlands around Mexico City. The historical record is sparse, but there are scattered mentions of hemp production on a modest scale through the 1760s. In the 1770s, the Spanish Crown launched a campaign to foment hemp production in Mexico. This met with indifferent success.

Marijuana has been intertwined with race and ethnicity in America since well before the word "marijuana" was coined

The mystery of marijuana's name is appropriate for this incredibly many-faceted plant. It's worth reflecting, when you see coverage of the humble weed, how much global, geopolitical, historical weight is packed into even its name

After this really long "trip" throughout the pre-modern and modern worlds, cannabis finally came to the United States at the beginning of the 20th century. It arrived in the southwest United States from Mexico, with immigrants fleeing that country during the Mexican Revolution of 1910-1911.

One of our favorite revolutionary figures of the 20th century, Pancho Villa, is said to have smoked pot before going to battle to become mas valiente (more valiant). The term “marijuana” even comes from ballads sung by Pancho Villa and his army.

La cucaracha, la cucaracha,
Ya no puede caminar,
Porque no tiene, porque no tiene,
Marihuana que fumar.

The song was adopted as Villa’s battle hymn after his capture of Torreon and subsequent overthrow of the Mexican government because many of his men had smoked marihuana before going into battle, much like other soldiers drinking alcohol before battle.

The introduction of smokeable cannabis to the US largely begins after the Mexican Revolution of 1910 to 1911. There were a number of refugees crossing the border from the violence of the revolution at the time, and they brought smokeable cannabis with them. There had been a long tradition of smokeable cannabis in Latin America [after its introduction to the region via plantations] and networks of marihuaneros [pot growers] in Spanish-speaking countries. 

The immigrants fleeing the violence in Mexico brought cannabis into the southwestern US, particularly Texas. It was there that the first backlash against cannabis began. El Paso became the first city to have an ordinance against it in 1914.