The first known* smoking of female cannabis tops in the Western hemisphere was probably in the 1870s in the West Indies (Jamaica, Bahamas, Barbados, etc.); and arrived with the immigration of thousands of Indian Hindus (from British-controlled India) imported for cheaper labor. By 1886, Mexicans and black sailors, who traded in those islands, picked up and spread its use throughout all the West Indies and Mexico.
* There are other theories about the first known smoking of hemp flower tops, e.g., by American and Brazilian slaves, Shawnee Indians, etc., some fascinatingbut none verifiable.
Cannabis smoking was generally used in the West Indies to ease the back-breaking work in the cane fields, beat the heat, and to relax in the evenings without the threat of an alcohol hangover in the morning.
The jazz and swing music of Negroes, Mexicans, and entertainers,was declared an outgrowth of marijuana use.
Given its late 19th Century area of usagethe Caribbean West Indies and Mexicoit is not surprising the first marijuana use recorded in the U.S. was by Mexicans in Brownsville, Texas, in 1903. And the first marijuana prohibition law in Americaipertaining only to Mexicansiwas passed in Brownsville in that same year.
Ganga use was next reported in 1909 in the port of New Orleans, in the black dominated Storeyville section frequented by sailors.
New Orleans Storeyville was filled with cabarets, brothels, music, and all the other accouterments of red light districts the world over. Sailors from the Islands took their shore leave and their marijuana there.
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