History of cannabis


History of cannabis - Part 1

The history of cannabis and its usage by humans dates back to at least the third millennium BCE in written history, and possibly far further back by archaeological evidence. For millennia, the plant has been valued for its use for fiber and rope, as food and medicine, and for its psychoactive properties for religious and recreational use.

The earliest restrictions on cannabis were reported in the Islamic world by the 14th century. In the 19th century, it began to be restricted in colonial countries, often associated with racial and class stresses. In the middle of the 20th century, international coordination led to sweeping restrictions on cannabis throughout most of the globe. Entering the 21st century, some nations began to change their approaches to cannabis, with measures taken to decriminalize cannabis; in 2001 Canada became the first nation to legalize medical cannabis, and in 2015 Uruguay became the first to legalize recreational cannabis with Canada following in 2018 and South Africa for personal home use only.

Ancient uses

Cannabis is indigenous to Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent. Hemp is possibly one of the earliest plants to be cultivated too long to type. Cannabis has been cultivated in Japan since the pre-Neolithic period, for its fibres and as a food source, and possibly as a psychoactive material.:96 An archeological site in the Oki Islands near Japan contained cannabis achenes from about 8000 BC, probably signifying use of the plant.Hemp use archaeologically dates back to the Neolithic Age in China, with hemp fiber imprints found on Yangshao culture pottery dating from the 5th millennium BC.The Chinese later used hemp to make clothes, shoes, ropes, and an early form of paper. Cannabis was an important crop in ancient Korea, with samples of hempen fabric discovered dating back as early as 3000 BCE. The earliest written reference to cannabis dates back to 2727 BC, from the Chinese emperor Shennong.

The Chinese character for hemp (麻 or má) depicts two plants under a shelter. Cannabis cultivation dates back at least 3000 years in Taiwan

Hemp is called ganja (Sanskrit: गञ्जा, IAST: gañjā) in Sanskrit and other modern Indo-Aryan languages. Some scholars suggest that the ancient drug soma, mentioned in the Vedas, was cannabis, although this theory is disputed.Bhanga is mentioned in several Indian texts dated before 1000 CE. However, there is philological debate among Sanskrit scholars as to whether this bhanga can be identified with modern bhang or cannabis.

Cannabis was also known to the ancient Assyrians, who discovered its psychoactive properties through the Aryans.Using it in some religious ceremonies, they called it qunubu (meaning “way to produce smoke”), a probable origin of the modern word “cannabis”.:305 The Aryans also introduced cannabis to the Scythians, Thracians and Dacians, whose shamans (the kapnobatai—”those who walk on smoke/clouds”) burned cannabis flowers to induce trance.The classical Greek historian Herodotus (ca. 480 BC) reported that the inhabitants of Scythia would often inhale the vapors of hemp-seed smoke, both as ritual and for their own pleasurable recreation.

Global spread

Around the turn of the millennium, the use of hashish (cannabis resin) began to spill over from the Persian world into the Arab world. Cannabis was allegedly introduced to Iraq in 1230 CE, during the reign of Caliph Al-Mustansir Bi’llah, by the entourage of Bahraini rulers visiting Iraq. Hashish was introduced to Egypt by “mystic Islamic travelers” from Syria sometime during the Ayyubid dynasty in the 12th century CE.:234 Hashish consumption by Egyptian Sufis has been documented as occurrent in the thirteenth century CE, and a unique type of cannabis referred to as Indian hemp was also documented during this time.:234 Smoking did not become common in the Old World until after the introduction of tobacco, so up until the 1500s hashish in the Muslim world was consumed as an edible.

Cannabis is thought to have been introduced to Africa by early Arab or Indian Hindu travelers, which Bantu settlers subsequently introduced to southern Africa when they migrated southward.Smoking pipes uncovered in Ethiopia and carbon-dated to around 1320 CE were found to have traces of cannabis. It was already in popular use in South Africa by the indigenous Khoisan and Bantu peoples prior to European settlement in the Cape in 1652.By the 1850s, Swahili traders had carried cannabis from the east coast of Africa, to the Congo Basin in the west.:99

The Spaniards brought industrial hemp to the Western Hemisphere and cultivated it in Chile starting about 1545. In 1607, “hempe” was among the crops Gabriel Archer observed being cultivated by the natives at the main Powhatan village, where Richmond, Virginia is now situated; and in 1613, Samuell Argall reported wild hemp “better than that in England” growing along the shores of the upper Potomac. As early as 1619, the first Virginia House of Burgesses passed an Act requiring all planters in Virginia to sow “both English and Indian” hemp on their plantations.

During Napoléon Bonaparte’s invasion of Egypt in 1798, alcohol was not available per Egypt being an Islamic country. In lieu of alcohol, Bonaparte’s troops resorted to trying hashish, which they found to their liking. Following an 1836–1840 travel in North Africa and the Middle East, French physician Jacques-Joseph Moreau wrote on the psychological effects of cannabis use; Moreau was a member of Paris’ Club des Hashischins (founded in 1844). In 1842, Irish physician William Brooke O’Shaughnessy, who had studied the drug while working as a medical officer in Bengal with the East India company, brought a quantity of cannabis with him on his return to Britain, provoking renewed interest in the West. Examples of classic literature of the period featuring cannabis include Les paradis artificiels (1860) by Charles Baudelaire and The Hasheesh Eater (1857) by Fitz Hugh Ludlow.