Samantha Putterman
By Samantha Putterman December 18, 2019

Image of 1800s-era drug store with marijuana plant sign isn’t legitimate

A viral social media post shows an old, black-and-white photograph of a drug store with a marijuana leaf painted above its entrance.

Text above the photo reads: "They say history repeats itself."

The image was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

The photo isn’t legitimate. 

Featured Fact-check

A reverse-image search led us to a February 2009 post on the website Deviant Art, where the image was shared under the description tags of mash-ups, pop culture and memes. Multiple comments on the page congratulate the poster on the photo manipulation, and one commenter asks for a link to the original photograph, to which the poster replies that they can’t find it anymore. The manipulated image also appears on meme websites, including a page of altered mashup images.

However, the notion that marijuana was used for medicinal purposes in the 1800s isn’t wrong. According to PBS, the U.S.-marijuana relationship dates back to the Colonial Era, and it wasn’t until the 1930s that the government started to criminalize the drug:

"American production of hemp was encouraged by the government in the 17th century for the production of rope, sails, and clothing. (Marijuana is the mixture of dried, shredded flowers and leaves that comes from the hemp plant.) Domestic production flourished until after the Civil War, when imports and other domestic materials replaced hemp for many purposes. In the late 19th century, marijuana became a popular ingredient in many medicinal products and was sold openly in public pharmacies."

Nevertheless, this photo does not appear to be authentic. We rate it False.

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Image of 1800s-era drug store with marijuana plant sign isn’t legitimate

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