The use of cannabis in human society is a practice that is older than any established religion in existence today. It is, in fact, a wonder that a plant that has been in use for over 12,000 years has not been lost to the sands of time. Perhaps it is because of the fact that ancient civilizations understood the potential of the cannabis plant for medicinal and recreational purposes and decided to hand down their knowledge to the coming generations. On that note, let us now take a brief look at the known history and journey of cannabis which spans over centuries.
It has now been established that the cultivation of cannabis seeds originated first in the Asian continent. Although back then there were no geographical nations and boundaries as we see today in the area, it is believed that the portion of central Asia where it originated from belongs to Mongolia and South Siberia now. These findings were further cemented when burnt seeds of the plant were found in the Kurgan burial mounds of Siberia (3000 BC). Noble Chinese men in the Xinjiang region of China were also found to have been buried with mummified cannabis seeds in 2500 BC. It is clear that society in these regions had made a deep connection between spirituality and marijuana back then.
Ancient China, Korea and India
In China, marijuana was primarily used as a medicinal drug for anesthetization prior to surgeries from as early as 4000 BC. According to records, even the somewhat mythical Chinese Emperor Shen Nung himself had used it back in 2737 BC. Korea got its first taste of the drug in 2000 BC when Chinese farmers brought it in with them. In India, marijuana was introduced by invading groups of “Aryans” between 2000 – 1000 BC and it soon became very popular in the subcontinent as a means of relieving anxiety and became deeply associated with spirituality and religion.
Introduction to Europe and Britain
In the period between 2000 BC – 1400 BC, Scythians started to use marijuana in the Middle East. The nomadic tribe introduced marijuana to Southeast Russia and the Ukraine after they settled there. Germany was likely the next country to enjoy the effects of the cannabis plant, thanks to the Germanic tribes. As the Anglo-Saxon invasion took place in the 5th century, the British were now aware of the properties of marijuana as well, courtesy of the Vikings.
Cannabis Comes to the US
In the course of the next few centuries, cannabis made its way to South America after going through various portions of the African continent in the 19th century. When the Mexican Revolution of 1910-1911 broke out in the country, refugees from Mexico entered the US in droves and along with them came marijuana or “pot.” Ever since those days, and over a hundred years later, the US still doesn’t approve of the drug legally. The good news is that state laws are changing and the use of medicinal marijuana is legal in quite a few US states now.
This is only a small introduction to the history of marijuana because the whole history and its details are far too elaborate to present in one article. Nevertheless, this should give you an outline of how marijuana has been in use for thousands of years in human civilization. In fact, given how much research has now started around the plant and its tremendous medical potentials, it would be safe to say that cannabis isn’t going anywhere in the future either.
Cannabis – by Wendy McCormick
A ganja smoker in Kolkata – Wikimedia Creative Commons
Cannabis Sativa – Illustration from the Vienna Dioscurides circa 512 AD – Wikimedia Public Domain
Guest Author Bio
Elena di Gregorio
I am Elena di Gregorio, a blogger and journalist. I’ve a Philosophy degree and a Master’s degree in Science and Technology Communication (Tor Vergata University, 2010), in Museum Communication and Evaluation (Roma Tre University, 2011) and in Social Media Marketing (SQcuola di Blog, 2013). I’ve worked for several years as a scientific explainer for kids, young adults and adults with Digital companies.
I have a passion for History, religion and Anthropology. I am currently writing a book on how the digital divide is affecting small communities in southern Europe and how they cope with the digital era.