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It’s true: campus used to grow cannabis for medicinal purposes. In 1909, the School of Pharmacy established a two-and-a-half-acre medicinal plant garden near Camp Randall. Four years later, the state legislature allocated $2,500 for the Wisconsin Pharmaceutical Experiment Station, a.k.a. Pharmaceutical Gardens. The project had to be moved to make room for the construction of Camp Randall Stadium, so after weeding out all the other possible locations, the gardens were moved to where the 100 block of Eagle Heights apartments now stand. Pharmacists used the plot to develop new plant-derived drugs and therapeutics and study age-old medicinal plants, including cannabis and coriander. The state stopped funding Pharmaceutical Gardens in 1933, just a few years before marijuana became illegal in Wisconsin. Plant-derived pharmaceuticals have fallen out of favor since the mid-19th century, but recent UW discoveries like plant-based painkillers show that nature still has plenty to offer.

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