For centuries, hemp has been seen as a valuable commodity. So much so that from the beginning of the colonies, and for over 200 years, it was considered currency and could even be used to pay taxes.
In 1533, King Henry VIII of England called upon all farmers to set aside a percentage of their land for growing hemp. Thirty years later, England still had a shortage of hemp; so Queen Elizabeth I increased the amount farmers were required to produce, and increased the penalties for failing to meet those requirements.
The first marijuana laws in America came directly from King James and actually mandated, rather than prohibited, cannabis cultivation. In 1619, Jamestown Colony, Virginia required every colonist landowner to grow 100 hemp plants specifically to be exported back to England. More mandatory cultivation laws would follow, enacted by colonies in Massachusetts in 1631 and Connecticut in 1632.