The History of Cannabis: Historical Uses and Current Benefits

Cannabis is a plant of Asian origin that has been cultivated for thousands of years. Among its multiple uses, it stands out as a textile material for clothing and rope, its medicinal therapeutic use and as a dietary food. These have been, among many others, the main uses and benefits that mankind has taken advantage of this powerful plant for centuries.

Currently, the Cannabis sativa plant continues to be a crop with a high potential and great future, being used for the manufacture of construction materials and bioplastics, among other raw materials of vegetable and sustainable origin, as well as for the extraction of medicinal cannabinoids, edible oil and others.

Origin of the cannabis plant

We now know that the real origin of cannabis is in Central Asia, possibly in the foothills of the Himalayas, supported by biological and biochemical evidence.

The history of Cannabis in China and Siberia: Medicinal and cultural uses.

Many cultures consider Cannabis a sacred plant, and it is still used in rituals to this day. Let’s take a closer look at the history of cannabis and how it spread to conquer the world.

The earliest traces of marijuana have been found in ancient cemeteries dating from 5,000 to 3,000 B.C. It possibly originated in the steppes of Mongolia and southern Siberia, where it was often used in shamanism.

The first written reference to hemp appeared around 2,800 B.C., where it is mentioned in the Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing, or Book of Materia Medica. During the reign of the Chinese Emperor Fu Hsi, Cannabis was a very popular medicine. It was said to cure gout, malaria, rheumatism and was used in acupuncture. Around 200 BC, the plant was used as an ingredient in the first anesthetic remedies. By the year 100, the Chinese had already described more than 100 medicinal uses of Cannabis!

In addition to its therapeutic use, hemp has been used as a textile material and in food, due to the high nutritional value of hemp seeds. Other written references to the use of hemp are found in “The Book of Ancient Poetry”, where it is clear that hemp was often grown in the fields.

History cannabis China

“Hemp seed to sow, this is the course we take, the fields far and wide we dress. “

The Book of Odes, She-King

The History of Cannabis in India: Sacred and Therapeutic

Through the movement of nomadic tribes, Cannabis eventually reached ancient India. The first references can be found in the Vedas, a collection of sacred Sanskrit texts, where it is mentioned as one of the 5 sacred plants.

According to legends, Shiva, one of the main deities of Hinduism, came down from a mountain and delivered mankind with yoga and Cannabis.

History cannabis India

The story is known of the Shiva, who was named Lord of Bhang, because he appeased his anger by keeping himself intoxicated with this food, so the world is safe from its violence.

But what is Bhang? Bhang is one of the 3 traditional preparations of Cannabis. The others are Ganja (made from flowers of female plants) and the most potent preparation Chara (made from flowering flowers). Bhang or Bhang Lassi is a mixture of marijuana, milk and other ingredients. It is still used to this day, for example, Shaiva ‘Sadhus (devotees of Shiva, also known as Yogi).

Another legend tells of Siddhartha Gautama, or Buddha, who fasted and meditated under the bodhi tree for six years, where he ate only 1 hemp seed and 1 grain of rice a day. In tantra Buddhism, bhang is used in combination with prayer and aids great liberation. During the Middle Ages, bhang was often taken before a battle, for example, by Sikh warriors, also called Nihang. Even during the colonial era, when many things were banned, an exception was made for cannabis, as it was and still is such an important part of Indian culture.

Today, Bhang is a traditional Indian food that is prepared with leaves of the hemp plant. It is worth mentioning that the plant grows wild in the country.

The History of Cannabis in the Middle East: Sacred and Spiritual Plant

During the 6th century, when the prophet Zoroaster founded the Zoroastrian faith, Cannabis is mentioned as a sacred plant.

In the “Zend Avesta”, a collection of religious texts, hemp appears along with 10,000 other medicinal plants. Here too, priests consumed bhang for spiritual journeys.

In later centuries, after the spread of the Islamic faith, Sufis used Cannabis and other stimulants such as coffee to reach a higher state of consciousness. Fuzuli, a Sufi poet wrote:

“Hashish is the perfect being, sought after by mankind with great enthusiasm, it may not be the perfect being for everyone, but it certainly is for the seeker of mystical experience.”


Another legend implies that the Nizarid warriors of Syria used hashish to better focus on their targets and tune in to their body movements. It is said that they often eliminate high-level people, which gave them the name Hashishins. Possibly, this is the origin of today’s word killer.

History of Cannabis - Ancient Greece

The influence of cannabis on the history of ancient Greece

The word Cannabis is actually a Greek translation of a Scythian word. The Scythians were a nomadic tribe and also lived among the ancient Greeks. According to Herodotus, a Greek historian, the Scythians used Cannabis as a textile plant to make clothing and in funeral ceremonies. Marijuana slowly made its way into Greek culture.

Scythian fire, an incense possibly made from Cannabis, was used in the Cult of Asclepius, the God of Medicine. Physicians may have used the plant to treat inflammation and even tumors.

The Thracians, another nomadic tribe, who lived among the Greeks, had shamans called “Kapnobatai” or smokewalkers. They went into a trance through dance and the fiery Marijuana. Other tribes even threw burning Cannabis to intoxicate themselves during the festivities.

History of marijuana

The history of Cannabis in ancient Egypt: rituals and medicine

In ancient Egypt, Cannabis was called “Shum Shum Tu”, which translates as; “The medicinal marijuana plant. medical marijuana plant “. Cannabis was often used in rituals as well as in medicine. The finding of hemp fibers suggests that it was used as a textile plant for clothing and ropes.

Hemp pollen has also been found in the tomb of Ramsis II. In one of the oldest medical texts, the Ebers papyrus, the plant was used in ointments against inflammations and other diseases. Seshat, the goddess of wisdom and knowledge, was represented with a hemp leaf on her head.

The plant’s popularity reached a peak, however, around the 14th century, Hashish’s view changed and possession was punished with teeth.

History of Cannabis Sativa

The History of Cannabis in Europe: From its Introduction to Prohibition

Uses of Cannabis in ancient Rome

Marijuana arrived in ancient Rome. Around 70 A.D. C, it was mentioned in the “Dioscorides Materia Medica”, a medical text that listed it as a treatment for ear pain. When the root was boiled, it was also used to treat gout and arthritis. Eventually, the Germanic tribes got hold of cannabis seeds, which also began to use it in their diet, as medicine and as clothing.

History of cannabis - Rome

Encountering Cannabis in Journeys to the East

Cannabis re-entered Europe centuries later in several different forms. Jan Huygen van Linschoten, a 16th century Dutch explorer, encountered cannabis on his travels eastward. During his expeditions, Linschoten had the opportunity to learn about cannabis and its applications from local cultures. These reports were among the first documented records of the plant in Europe, and laid the groundwork for its subsequent spread throughout the continent.

History of Cannabis - Europe

The Hashishins Club and its Influence in France

In the 19th century, Napoleon’s army brought hashish back to France, this time from Egypt. In the mid-1800s, hashish became very popular, and the“Hashishins Club” or“Hash Eaters Club” emerged. This club, frequented by illustrious figures such as Charles Baudelaire and Alexander Dumas, explored the effects of drugs and contributed to the growing popularity of cannabis in that period. As we were able to see, in an interview with an expert on cannabis cannabis policy in France this cultural influence is still evident in the country.

Medical Discovery and Queen Victoria using cannabis

In 1830, Irish physician William Brooke O’Shaughnessy discovered the medical uses of cannabis in India and decided to bring it back to Europe. It is said that even Queen Victoria of England used marijuana to relieve her menstrual cramps.

Still, marijuana was banned in the United Kingdom in 1928, after the international drug conference in Geneva, and remains illegal in many European countries.

Cannabis became a popular plant for many reasons, but unfortunately it was banned in the United Kingdom in 1928, after the International Drug Conference in Geneva. To this day, it is still illegal in many European countries, although some, such as the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain, are the exception to the rule.

The Beatles’ First Joint and Other Emblematic Moments

The world of music has been a scenario where cannabis has played a relevant role. An iconic moment was when the Beatles smoked their first joint in the 1960s, which marked a milestone in popular culture and public acceptance of the plant. This event symbolizes the beginning of a cultural revolution and the desire to explore new experiences.

The history of Cannabis in the United States: from colonization to legalization.

The beginnings of Cannabis in the United States: early arrival and cultivation

Through Spanish and English expansion, the hemp plant reached the shores of the United States in the 15 and 1600s. Agriculture in the South American colonies and later in Jamestown became widely commercial along with tobacco. George Washington even suggested “making the most of it and planting it everywhere”.

Hemp is also depicted on the reverse side of the old $10 bill. It is said that James Madison had the idea of forming a new, democratic nation because of hemp. Fitz Hugh Ludlow, an American writer and explorer, wrote the book “The Hashish Eater” based on his experiences of eating cannabis. It was a widespread plant! Even medicinal uses were frequent. The United States Pharmacopoeia (a summary of drug information) approved cannabis for many different diseases such as tetanus, typhoid, alcoholism or opiate addiction! Cannabis was named the million dollar crop.

The prohibition of Cannabis: propagandas and restrictive policies

Unfortunately, this all changed in the early 1900s. As the American Medical Association (AMA) was formed, hefty licensing fees were introduced for physicians, and many herbal healers could not afford them. Shortly thereafter, the AMA maintained a monopoly on the medical industry. Cannabis was banned in California and Massachusetts, among other states.

During the prohibition era, even states joined the prohibition of cannabis. Still, people found ways to smoke and consume marijuana. The so-called “tea pads” became very popular in Harlem.

History of Cannabis - America

William Randolph Hearst’s influence on Cannabis Prohibition

William Randolph Hearst, a businessman who occupied most of the media, felt threatened by hemp production and began distributing propaganda against Cannabis. He used the influx of Mexican refugees from the Mexican Revolution and claimed that: “Mexican immigrants who smoked cannabis violently raped women“.

Fear was spreading. A small church group wrote “Tell Your Children,” which later became the anti-cannabis film “Reefer Madness.” Hearst began to lobby politicians to his cause.

Harry J. Anslinger and the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937

Among them was Harry J. Anslinger, who was the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN for short), basically a precursor to the DEA. Together, they succeeded in passing the Marihuana Tax Act in 1937, which ended up criminalizing the possession of Cannabis unless one could pay a significant tax rate.

This further weakened the hemp industry. WADA did not approve this act. Dr. William Creigthon Woodward said, “Marijuana is not the right term, but the burden of this bill falls largely on the physicians and pharmacists in this country.” Unfortunately, the law was passed very quickly and the oppositions did not have time to prepare. However, this does not mean that they gave up.

History of Cannabis in the United States

In 1938, New York City Mayor Fiorello la Guardia selected a committee to study the bill to oppose Anslinger. The La Guardia Committee concluded that cannabis was a good medicine. The attempt was unsuccessful.

World War II and the decline in hemp production

During World War II there was a slight decline in hemp production for industrial use, driven by the Department of Agriculture and the military. This “high” was short-lived, and cannabis was officially removed from all medical textbooks.

History of Cannabis USA

The 1960s: the popularity of marijuana and the legal challenges.

In the late 1960s, marijuana became popular among the youth movements of the time, but remained illegal. Timothy Leary, a Harvard professor, was arrested for possession and decided to challenge the tax law. The judge in this case ruled that the marijuana tax law was unconstitutional and struck it down.

Congress’ harsh response was to pass the Controlled Substances Act in 1970, which led to Cannabis remaining illegal and the birth of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

At that historic moment, at one location in California, a small group of students gathered at 4:20 p.m. to smoke marijuana. That is the origin of the meaning of 420, Global Marijuana Day, which is celebrated on April 4 which is celebrated on April 4 (4/20 in the U.S. date format).

Pioneer States in the decriminalization and legalization of Cannabis

Fortunately, some states such as Oregon and Alaska decided to decriminalize the plant. Even the Shafer Committee, assembled to justify the law by Richard Nixon, advised that the use of Cannabis be decriminalized. The president chose to ignore this. The anti-drug messages were spread for a long time and remained illegal until today. These days things are slowly starting to change. More than 20 states in the United States allow the sale of medical marijuana and, in 2014, Colorado fully legalized cannabis for personal use. Unfortunately, it is still illegal under Federal Law, so conducting studies and research on cannabis remains very difficult.

Cannabis in the Bible and Rastafarian belief

In the original Hebrew scripture of the Judeo-Christian bible, cannabis was referred to as Kaneh Bosum. Dr. Sula Benet, a Polish anthropologist, discovered that Kaneh Bosum was mistranslated.

The first translation of the biblical plant was “Acorus calamus”. After realizing that Acorus Calamus, or commonly known as “sweet acorus”, had none of the above mentioned effects, he corrected the translation to cannabis. Kaneh Bosm actually appears several times in the Old Testament.

22 Moreover the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 23″ Take also for yourself the best spices: of flowing myrrh five hundred shekels, and of fragrant cinnamon half, two hundred and fifty, and of fragrant reed two hundred and fifty, 24 and of cassia five hundred, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, and of olive oil one hin.25 You shall make [a] of these a sacred anointing oil, a mixture of perfume, the work of a perfumer; it shall be a sacred anointing oil.

The Bible

Even the Rastafarian belief is based on the mention of the plant in the Old Testament. Ganja was introduced by Indian servants in the 19th century, and Rastafarians believe that this plant can heal nations and bring them closer to Jah.

Modern History of Cannabis: Current Events

The modern history of cannabis has been marked by a significant change in the perception and legality of the plant in several countries around the world.

As more countries and states recognize the medical benefits and economic opportunities associated with Cannabis, more flexible regulations are being implemented that even include recreational marijuana use. For example, the European Union recently spoke in favor of the decriminalization of cannabis. decriminalization of cannabis , France has permitted the sale of CBD flower , y Switzerland is a pioneer in the sale of CBD cannabis. .

One of the most remarkable transformations has been the movement towards the legalization of cannabis for medicinal and recreational purposes. Several countries have enacted laws permitting the therapeutic use of cannabis (usually extracts such as cannabis extract). CBD oilbut in some countries, they are also marijuana buds) to treat various medical conditions, such as chronic pain, epilepsy, cancer and post-traumatic stress disorder, among others.

In addition, many countries, such as Canada, Uruguay and several U.S. states, have gone a step further and legalized cannabis for recreational use, allowing adults to freely consume the plant. Marijuana dispensaries are already the stores of choice for many users.

On the other hand, hemp is presented as a very sustainable crop plant and useful for the production of numerous environmentally friendly materials: from “hemp wood” to “hemp cement” and bioplastics. More than 10,000 possible uses are known with this plant, making it undeniably promising for the future.

The future of Cannabis: medical and legal advances

In short, the Cannabis industry is booming, with steady growth in the production, distribution and sale of Cannabis-related products. In addition, scientific research is increasingly uncovering the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids and the importance of cannabis in the field of medicine. in the field of medicine. .

Gradually, the cannabidiol (CBD) is taking the place it deserves. Early studies show its promising properties for various medical and cosmetic treatments, such as anxiety, depression, pain, inflammatory diseases, dry skin, skin conditions and much more.

The connection of the humanities with hemp has lasted throughout the centuries. It has been recognized as a tremendous medical plant with many benefits for health, ecosystems and as a textile solution, as well as an important ecological raw material for construction materials, bioplastics and modern materials. With laws changing these days, we can expect countless applications and a bright future.

Andrea Rezes Esmeraldino
Cannabis researcher and trainer : Expert in CBD products of Cannactiva. With extensive experience in the cannabis world, Andrea is an expert in Cannactiva's CBD products. He deals every day [...]

Mi Cesta0
There are no products in the cart!
Continue shopping
Open chat
Need help?
Can we help you?
Whatsapp Attention (Monday-Friday/ 11am-18pm)