History of Marijuana
Chinese people used marijuana as early as the 2700’s B.C. People in India have long used it for pleasure, in ceremonies, and as a medicine. Marijuana has been used as an agent for achieving euphoria since ancient times; it was described in a Chinese medical compendium traditionally considered to date from 2737 B.C. Its use spread from China to India and then to N Africa and reached Europe at least as early as A.D. 500.
The first direct reference to a cannabis product as a psychoactive agent dates from 2700 BC, in the writings of the Chinese emperor Shen Nung. The focus was on its powers as a medication for rheumatism, gout, malaria, and oddly enough, absent-mindedness. Mention was made of the intoxicating properties, but the medicinal value was considered more important. In India though it was clearly used recreationally. The Muslims too used it recreationally for alcohol consumption was banned by the Koran. It was the Muslims who introduced hashish, whose popularity spread quickly throughout 12th century Persia (Iran) and North Africa.
In 1545 the Spanish brought marijuana to the New World. The English introduced it in Jamestown in 1611 where it became a major commercial crop alongside tobacco and was grown as a source of fiber.
By 1890, hemp had been replaced by cotton as a major cash crop in southern states. Some patent medicines during this era contained marijuana, but it was a small percentage compared to the number containing opium or cocaine. It was in the 1920’s that marijuana began to catch on. Some historians say its emergence was brought about by Prohibition. Its recreational use was restricted to jazz musicians and people in show business. “Reefer songs” became the rage of the jazz world. Marijuana clubs, called tea pads, sprang up in every major city. These marijuana establishments were tolerated by the authorities because marijuana was not illegal and patrons showed no evidence of making a nuisance of themselves or disturbing the community. Marijuana was not considered a social threat.
Marijuana, cannabis sativa, or hemp, is one of the oldest psychoactive plants known to humanity. Cannabis has become one of the most widespread and diversified of plants. It grows as weed and cultivated plant all over the world in a variety of climates and soils. Cannabis preparations have been used as remedies for thousands of years and the active ingredients of the hemp plant (THC) can be put to use in a multitude of medical conditions.
A native of central Asia, cannabis may have been cultivated as long as ten thousand years ago. It was certainly cultivated in China by 4000 B.C. and in Turkestan by 3000 B.C. It has long been used as a medicine in India, China, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, South Africa, and South America.
Today, people all over the world are beginning to use the cannabis plant for its unique medicinal properties. Neolithic archaeology grounds in China include cannabis seeds and plants. The first known mention of cannabis was in a Chinese medical text of 2737BC. It was used as medicine throughout Asia and the Middle East to treat a variety of conditions. In India particularly, cannabis was associated with Shiva.
Cannabis was well known to the Scythians. Germans have grown hemp for its fiber’s used to make nautical ropes and material for clothes since ancient times. In the Elbing Prussian vocabulary from around 1350, hemp is recorded as knapis (derived from cannabis). Large fields of hemp along the banks of the Rhine are featured in 19th-century copper etchings. The hemp plant has to be soaked to harvest the fiber. This liquid was used as a drink. In today’s Germany there are bars that serve hemp beer and hemp wine.
Cannabis was used medicinally in the western world (usually as a tincture) around the middle of the 19th century. It was famously used to treat Queen Victoria’s menstrual pains, and was available from shops in the US. By the end of the 19th century its medicinal use began to fall as other drugs such as aspirin took over. It was outlawed in the USA in the 1930s. It has a prominent religious role in the Rastafarian religion. Although it has probably been used as a recreational drug throughout its history, it came to prominence in the jazz scene during the fifties, its use taking off in the 1960s. It is now one of the most widely used illicit drugs in the world.