Where Did Cannabis Originate?


Researchers have traced cannabis origination to East Asia, where it was first used for multiple purposes: fiber, food, medicine, spirituality, and yes, to get high. It then spread to Central Asia and the Middle East. From there, the Scythians, a nomadic Indo-European group, brought it to Europe, where it was propagated through the Anglo-Saxon invasions and traded with Asia. At the same time, cannabis arrived in Africa and South America, where it was primarily used for hemp-related products.

Cannabis only reached the United States in the twentieth century through Mexican immigrants fleeing from the Mexican Revolution.

Beginnings Of Cannabis In Asia

Scientists once believed that cannabis originated in Central Asia after finding seeds in the graves of shamans and noblemen from Siberia and China. However, recent studies have challenged this claim, stating that cannabis originated in East Asia, around modern-day China and Japan, 12,000 years ago. This discovery gives it a distinction of being one of the first cultivated crop species.

Both hemp (a non-psychoactive species of cannabis) and recreational marijuana were used widely in the region. It’s also believed to have been used for medicinal use (as an anesthetic for surgery) around 4,000 B.C.

From East Asia, cannabis spread to Korea and the Middle East. Herodotus supported cannabis use, writing about the Scythians, a nomadic Indo-European group from Iran, describing them inhaling smoke from burnt cannabis seeds to get high. Ancient Sanskrit Vedic poems also talk about cannabis as a substance that relieves anxiety.

Spread Of Cannabis To The West

From the Middle East, the Scythians brought cannabis to Europe, starting with southeast Russia and Ukraine. Germanic tribes then brought it to Germany. Through the Anglo-Saxon wars, it arrived in the United Kingdom. Researchers have found traces of cannabis in ancient Viking ships.

Increasing trade between Europe and Asia also likely helped spread cannabis across the continent.

In the 1830s, an Irish doctor found that cannabis extracts helped lessen stomach pain and vomiting among people suffering from cholera. This discovery helped put cannabis extracts on Western pharmacy shelves and in doctors’ offices.

The Arrival Of Cannabis In The United States

From Asia and Europe, cannabis was propagated across Africa and the Americas. Hemp was already in the United States in the 1600s; it was so famous for its fiber that farmers in Connecticut, Virginia, and Massachusetts were legally required to use it. In the early twentieth century, the cannabis we know today, which has higher concentrations of psychoactive compounds, was introduced to the US. It was brought by Mexican immigrants who were fleeing from the tumultuous Mexican Revolution.

Throughout history, cannabis’ recreational and medicinal properties didn’t come with many derogatory connotations. But its arrival in the United States was clouded by racism and political agenda, which instigated the opposing perspective.

Cannabis In The 21st Century

Thanks to more research into cannabis and the increasing public acceptance, more states and countries have legalized either its medical or recreational use. It’s been proven to be better, or at least as effective, as conventional medicine when treating certain chronic and terminal illnesses such as epilepsy, psychotic conditions, and HIV/AIDS, among others.

People also enjoy cannabis recreationally, enjoying the “high” it brings, characterized by euphoric feelings and boosted energy or focus (cannabis sativa) or relaxed states and stimulated appetite (cannabis indica).

That said, before using it, check if it’s legal in your area and review the specific regulations that govern its procurement and use. You don’t want to find yourself being caught with THC or CBD on a drug test in a non-legal state!

You can find cannabis in various forms beyond dried herbs and leaves; you can get cannabis pills, topical applications, oral liquids, and oil. Nevertheless, it’s crucial to ensure that the medium you’re taking cannabis with - whether it’s bongs, edibles, or healthier dry herb vaporizers - is legal where you are.


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