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The History of Cannabis

Origins of Cannabis

Cannabis has been a part of human lives for over 6000 years. The plant was regarded as one the ‘five grains’ in China as early as 4000 BC and was farmed as a major food crop. Over the years, Cannabis has gone through many periods of human history and its potential uses have been largely explored by many different cultures. The Cannabis plant is indigenous to Central and Southern Asia and in addition to its early uses as a food source, cannabis was also used to make shoes, clothes, ropes and an early form of paper by the Chinese.

Hemp, also commonly referred to as ganja, is theorized to be the earliest form of the cannabis plant cultivated by humans. Hemp is a strain of the sativa plant and its seeds are harvested for industrial use. This explains its early application as a producer of resources such as food, rope and clothing. Archaeological evidence in ancient Mesopotamia (currently Iran and Iraq) suggests that hemp may have been used as early as 8000 BC. This means that the origins of Cannabis can be traced back more than 10,000 years.  

In addition to its more practical uses, cannabis was also used in ancient times for its psychoactive  properties. The psychoactive properties of cannabis were first discovered by the ancient Assyrians in religious ceremonies. Cannabis in this context was initially referred to as ‘qunubu’, which means ‘way to produce smoke.’ Many speculate that this is where the modern word cannabis comes from. Cannabis’ use as a psychoactive plant for religious ceremonies continued into 400 BC in Greek culture. Greek historical documents report that many would inhale the vapours produced by hemp-seed smoke for both ritual and recreational purposes.

The Global Spread of Cannabis

As mentioned, the cannabis plant is indigenous to Central and Southern regions of Asia. By 500 BC, cannabis sativa use had spread significantly to a number of cultures. These cultures included the Indians, Muslims, Persians, as well as the ancient Greeks and Romans. By this point in history, the medicinal uses of cannabis were being discovered. The plant was often used to treat things like inflammation, malaria, nausea and depression. 

It was not until around the late 1500’s that experts believe cannabis was brought to North America. This was during the time when the Spanish began their conquest of the Americas. During this period, cannabis was used for many of its more practical applications as described above. By the 1600’s farmers in American colonies were growing cannabis and regularly using the hemp fibres for making rope, paper and other useful products.

Widespread use of cannabis for its medicinal properties began to take off as early as the 18th century. During this time, the famous Napoleon Bonaparte brought cannabis back from Egypt in his return to France. In France, it was investigated for its pain relieving and sedative properties. It was from here on that cannabis began to be used for treating things like tumours, cough, and jaundice, which was a prevalent condition during the 1700’s.

By 1839, cannabis’ use in a pharmaceutical context would see a rapid increase as well. This was after the plant was introduced into Western medicine for its therapeutic uses. Doctor William O’Shaughnessy investigated the plant in this context and determined that there were no negative medicinal effects associated with it. Cannabis would see rapid growth across global markets until the 1900’s when legal and political resistance began to challenge the drug’s popularity. 

Cannabis And The War On Drugs

Much of the stigma against cannabis came as a result of racial tensions during the early 20th century. Before the early 1900’s, ‘cannabis’ was used almost exclusively to refer to the plant. However, as anti-Mexican sentiment began to rise in the United States during this time period, the word ‘marijuana’ began to be used more commonly. This was done to draw attention to the drug’s use by Mexicans and consequentially, to carry a negative connotation. At this time, the American government also began to associate cannabis use with the dangerous and homicidal actions of Mexican and black cannabis users. By 1937, the use of and sale of cannabis products was completely banned in the United States. The stigma around the drug as a result of these developments quickly spread throughout the world, Canada being one of the victims of the stigma.

As part of the ‘War on Drugs’, Richard Nixon, the then president of the United States of America, classified cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug in 1970. This was done under the Controlled Substances Act and placed cannabis in the same category as heroin, LSD, cocaine and ecstasy. By this point, drugs such as cannabis were referred to as ‘public enemy number one.’ Media coverage surrounding cannabis greatly contributed to the portrayal of the plant as a dangerous gateway drug that should be avoided at all costs. This stereotype is one that still exists amongst many groups today.

Liberation and Legalization of Pot

As research on cannabis has increased and education surrounding the plant has improved, governments and individuals alike have begun to realize the many benefits and positive side effects of cannabis products. One of our earlier posts covers some of the many potential health benefits of cannabis. We have even discussed how cannabis can be beneficial in other areas of your life such as your sex life.

In 2018, the Canadian government finally acted on these advancements in research and legalized marijuana across the country for recreational use. In the United States, recreational marijuana use is slowly following suit. As of last year, the recreational use of marijuana has been legalized across 9 different states. Furthermore, some form of cannabis legalization now exists across 30 different states.

Closing Thoughts

We are finally beginning to witness cannabis’ return to the legal sphere of business. As studies continue to be conducted on the benefits of cannabis products, the negative stigma attached to cannabis use diminishes. Through the legalization of cannabis in Canada, millions of Canadians now have the opportunity to realize the medicinal benefits of the plant for themselves. Furthermore, responsible use of cannabis affords us the right to enjoy its psychoactive effects recreationally.  

At Queen of Bud, we are proud to be a part of the cannabis movement and provide our customers with the highest quality cannabis products. Stop in today and see what we have in store for you.