The history of cannabis

Weeds | History of Weed | SHOWTIME

From 2727 B.C. to the present, Weeds presents a brief history of cannabis. Starring Mary-Louise Parker.

Source: The history of cannabis: 8 things you didn’t know | Stuff.co.nz

The history of cannabis: 8 things you didn’t know

Ever watched a Shakespeare play and wondered what he was on? Cannabis, allegedly.

AMIR COHEN/REUTERS

Ever watched a Shakespeare play and wondered what he was on? Marijuana, allegedly.

We’ve all heard of it cannabis, pot, marijuana, Mary Jane

– but what do you really know about it?

1. It’s been around for thousands of years. Cannabis, in its digestible form, was discovered in tombs in the Turpan District of Xinjiang, China, in the early 2000s and carbon-dated to 2500BP (or “before present”, the most commonly used dating convention in carbon dating). Its use may go back as far as 12,000 years ago, probably as a multi-use crop for rope, clothing, fibre and nutritious seeds.

2. Cannabis is one member of the flowering plant family cannabaceae, which also includes hops, used as the main flavour in beer.


3. Cannabis produces one of the strongest, natural fibres – hemp – which has been around for 10-12,000 years. You can make paper, twine, fuel, varnish, paint, a food ingredient, a grain crop, or bow strings. In China, it was used as a “war crop” in ancient times.

4. The main species is cannabis sativa, the psychoactive variety, while the hemp crop is the non-psychoactive cannabis sativa linnaaeus. Then there are two more psychoactive types, cannabis indica, and an uncommon subspecies, cannabis ruderalis (and there’s some debate about whether it’s even a separate species).

Cannabis Male & Female

5. Male and female plants do different things – the male is better for making fibre and hemp; the female is better for seeds and the psychoactive product (the dried flowers of the female plant).

A map showing the history of cannabis from central Asia to the rest of the world.

Geographical Review/Warf

A map showing the spread of cannabis from central Asia to the rest of the world.

6. It was only recently made illegal. In the United States, and many western countries, cannabis use was curtailed and criminalised in the early 20th century, although hemp production was allowed and encouraged during World War II.

7. The chemical in cannabis that causes you to get ‘high’ or ‘stoned’ is called THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). When cannabis is smoked or eaten, THC enters the bloodstream and goes to the brain. When in the brain, THC binds to tiny parts of the brain called brain receptors. If enough THC binds with these brain receptors, your behaviour will be affected and you become ‘stoned’.

8. Shakespeare was a stoner. Allegedly. South African researchers have claimed there was marijuana residue on the fragments of a pipe found in Shakespeare’s garden in England. The claim was backed up with the “fact” that in Sonnet 76, he wrote about “invention in a noted weed”, a hint – it was claimed that he lit up while writing.

There are two common species of cannabis - one that is "psychoactive" and one used for things like rope and fabric.

ARND WIEGMANN

There are two common species of cannabis – one that is “psychoactive” and one used for things like rope and fabric.

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