Cannabis, History - Marijuana through the ages
From the Vikings to the Ancient Greeks, Chinese and Egyptians, the history of cannabis is irrefutably woven into the fabric of mankind’s own tapestry. Far from a modern monster, marijuana has been used by humans worldwide in its varying forms for over 10,000 years.
For many of us, this simple fact alone is enough to decry any and all who believe it’s their place to make this natural miracle of a plant illegal.
Cannabis has fought many battles over the millennia, and through thick and thin is still surviving, thriving, alongside us today. With applications ranging from food to medicine, clothing, shoes, paper, rope, and (of course) recreational (or even religious) use, it’s clear that this tenacious plant - one of the earliest crops ever cultivated by mankind - is here to stay.
In fact, one might even argue, as agriculture is the basis of modern civilization, and cannabis (in all likelihood) was the world’s first agricultural crop, that marijuana led to the development of civilization itself - (put that in your pipe and smoke it!).
With this page, we here at SeedSupreme hope to open a doorway for you to the rich history of cannabis - a glimpse into the past of pot and people alike, so that we might all get a chance to know dear Mary Jane more intimately.
So sit back, skin up a fatty and get comfy - we’ll keep things as brief as possible, but marijuana’s storied history takes a while to cover!
Ganja: An Origin Story
While there is some debate among conspiracy theorists that mankind might not, in fact, have sprung from origins in Africa, it’s commonly accepted that cannabis comes originally from the regions of Central Asia and India.
This remarkable plant evolved some 28 million years ago, and was first enjoyed by local wildlife (who unfortunately were unable to pass the dutchie - thankfully, however, mankind cottoned on to the possibilities soon enough!).
At the birth of agriculture itself (around 8,000+ BCE), marijuana was primed, ready and more than able - and without any stigma holding them back, those wise ancient Asians were quick on the uptake.
Archaeologists have unearthed evidence of hemp cord used in pottery in the area of modern-day Taiwan, dating back to the dawn of agriculture over 10,000 years ago, and further evidence of use in the Oki Islands near Japan from the same era.
While today’s marijuana is most commonly used for its medical or recreational benefits, analysis of the remains of cannabis plants we’ve found to date suggests that the earliest strains had such low levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol - the cannabinoid which gets you high) that there would have been next to no psychoactive properties.
So what happened along the way?
How did this sublime specimen of nature with roots far older than even our most ancient ancestors come to be the point of modern contention, affection, therapy and more? Could it be that cannabis has actually been legal and widely used for considerably longer in its extensive history than not? (We’ll give you a hint - the answer’s yes).
Weed through History - A Timeline
Ancient Asians and Cannabis
8,000+ BCE - The dawn of agriculture and the birth of civilization. With humans settling in ancient villages and abandoning their nomadic ways, agriculture played a crucial role in our survival, and marijuana is highly likely to have been the first crop (if not, one of the earliest crops) cultivated by settlers.
Of course, without written records, it’s impossible to explore the full breadth of what our ancient ancestors used marijuana for, but an abundance of evidence from Chinese burial sites and villages in the region of Taiwan show us the use of hemp in pottery, as well as tools used to pound hemp.
6,000 BCE - By now, clear signs begin cropping up that marijuana seeds and oil were used for food in China.
4,0000 BCE - Hemp starts making its way into textiles throughout China and Turkestan.
2,900 BCE - The revered Emperor Fu Hsi, credited with bringing civilization to China, referenced cannabis (or ‘Ma’, in Chinese) as an incredibly popular medicine - one he claimed possessed both yin and yang (a statement I think we can all appreciate!).
2,737 BCE - The Traditional Medicine Book of Emperor Shen Neng becomes the world’s first officially recorded evidence of commonplace cannabis use for medicinal purposes.
By now, the Chinese were using marijuana to treat everything from malaria to gout and even a loss of memory!
2,000 - 800 BCE - Across this broad 1,200 years, we see numerous signs all throughout Asia of cannabis use, from industrial to recreational and medicinal.
Bhang (a mix of dried marijuana leaves, seeds and stems) appears in the sacred Hindu text (the Atharvaveda, aka The Science of Charms), and is referenced as ‘Sacred Grass’ - one of five sacred plants in India - and regularly used for medicine and ritualistic offerings to the god Shiva.
1,500 BCE - By now, signs appear that China has begun cultivating cannabis for food and fiber. Hemp and silk are in equal demand and the Scythians (a nomadic tribe of warriors from what is now modern Siberia) begin using and growing ganja to weave fine hemp cloth.
Given the Scythians’ nomadic nature, it’s likely that this tribe were responsible for introducing weed to the wider world of both the early Slavic and European cultures.
The Chinese Pharmacopeia known as the Rh-Ya also mentions the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
1450 BCE - Referenced in the original Hebrew version of a recipe for holy anointing oil (as described in the Book of Exodus), the recipe calls for over six pounds of kaneh-bosem (a substance experts agree is none other than marijuana).
1213 BCE - Evidence that the ancient Egyptians used cannabis was found on the mummy of Ramesses II (who died in this year), though pot prescriptions in Ancient Egypt were prescribed for everything from glaucoma to inflammation and the administration of enemas.