Why was Tobacco so much more popular than Cannabis in the Early United States? Well first it should be known that the Cannabis being smoked back then would have probably been industrial hemp, so you aren’t going to get a great effect on it. Another part of it was that since it was so cheap, it made someone look like they were poor.The popularity of Cannabis in the U.S. wouldn’t really get going until the Mexican-American war, in which many soldiers picked up the habit while in Mexico, where the crop was more potent and tobacco was hard to find.