This online digital exhibit explores the story of "Contested Cannabis: A History of Marijuana in Wisconsin and the Wider World."

In recent years, many states in the United States have enacted laws to relax or largely eliminate regulations on the use or possession of cannabis (marijuana). Similar legislation has been debated across the country, including in Wisconsin.  “Contested Cannabis” is designed to advance public debate by examining the legal, regulatory, and cultural history of cannabis—particularly the history of cannabis and marijuana in the Badger State.

The exhibit explores and explains the history of cannabis, hemp, and marijuana in Wisconsin and across the United States through five themes: Taxonomy; Hemp Agriculture; Pharmacy & Medicine; Propaganda & Education; and De/Criminalization.

Please use the navigation links at the bottom of each page or on the right side of each page to read the exhibit.

Selected items from the exhibit:

This exhibit mostly features objects and digitized version of items from the historical collections of the American Institute of the History of Pharmacy. The exhibit also includes a few digitized items from select archival collections at the Wisconsin Historical Society and from other repositories.

For more information about the exhibit or about items and objects in the exhibit, please contact AIHP at

Note: Throughout this exhibit, please click on any picture to read complete descriptive information and/or to see a larger version of the images.

AIHP recently received a generous “mini-grant” from Wisconsin Humanities, an independent affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, to develop this exhibit.

On December 8, 2021, AIHP hosted an online Zoom Round Table to discuss the "Contested Cannabis: A History of Marijuana in Wisconsin and the Wider World" project. Speakers at the Roundtable included Dr. Lucas Richert, Dr. Emily Dufton, Dr. Natalie Schmitz, and Gabriel Lake Carter.

Watch the Contested Cannabis Round Table

In 2020, AIHP and the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Pharmacy hosted the first annual Kremers Seminar in the History of Pharmacy and Drugs (Kreminar) on the topic of Cannabis. Watch videos of the five scholarly presentations for the Kreminar on the AIHP website.

Consider joining the American Institute of the History of Pharmacy to support programming like this in the future.

Special thanks to Gabriel Lake Carter for providing much of the research, composition, and curation that enabled this exhibit.

Wisconsin Humanities is a non-profit organization whose mission is to strengthen the roots of community life through support of educational and cultural programs that inspire civic participation and individual imagination for communities across Wisconsin.

Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this project do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.