Cannabis History: How A Small Plant Spread Through Nations

Contrary to what most believe nowadays, cannabis has always been a part of the Chinese and Viking history.

Researchers continuously find evidence of the usage of marijuana long before people deemed it an anomaly or an “evil drug.”

According to Barney Warf, who is a professor at the University of Kansas, people of Asia used cannabis mostly as medicine and a part of rituals that make their spirituality stronger.

Pre-modern eras showed evidence that Vikings and even Germans utilized marijuana to relieve pain when giving birth and other causes. Eventually, the popularity of marijuana spread throughout the United States.

Warf also stated that people hating on cannabis because it’s “bad” only started recently, explaining that marijuana is legal in the majority of countries in the world.

Negative views about cannabis could have been from people who dismiss information that plants can help medically and spiritually.

What’s The Origin Of Cannabis?

Before anything else, it’s essential to differentiate the two most popular strains of the cannabis plant. First, Cannabis sativa is known as marijuana. 

It has THC, a psychoactive component that gives users a “high” feeling. The other subspecies is Cannabis sativa L., which does not have any psychoactive properties, and is commonly known as hemp.

It’s also good to know that the L in the latter subspecies is a tribute to the famous Botanist, Carl Linnaeus. However, nowadays, thanks to improvements made in the field, you can now find one of the Best Hybrid Strain in the market.

It’s also essential to note a second and third species of the plant that has psychoactive properties: Cannabis indica (discovered by Jean-Baptiste Lamarck) and Cannabis ruderalis (determined by D.E. Janischevisky).

In a book entitled “Marihuana: The First Twelve Thousand Years,” it describes how long marijuana has been a widely used plant among Central Asia, specifically in Mongolia and Southern Siberia.

This information further backs up the claims that cannabis is one of the oldest crops known to man. Professor Wark states that there is a chance that the plant became popular because hunters accidentally stumbled upon them back then.

Also, evidence showed traces of burned cannabis back in 2,500-3,000 B.C. As mentioned earlier, people made marijuana a part of spiritual ceremonies.

Back then, tribes of Siberia and China buried the psychoactive plant together with mummified people. China used both subspecies, and historians recorded evidence dating back to 4,000 B.C, wherein people utilized cannabis as an anesthetic in different surgeries.

By 2,000 B.C., Korea already had a hold of the cannabis plants thanks to the local Chinese farmers. This information is evident in “The Archeology of Korea” from Cambridge University Press.

Eventually, because of the invasion of Aryans, the South Asian subcontinent also had access to the plant.

India openly welcomed and celebrated the usage of cannabis, proclaiming that it was part of the five kingdoms of herbs and that it releases anyone who uses it from anxiety. Evidence from Sanskrit Vedic (“The Science of Charms”) poems showed how much Indians valued cannabis.

How Did Cannabis Spread To Europe?

Since Indians already started using cannabis at around 1,000-2,000 B.C., many believe that the Scythians, an Indio-European group, spread the plant in parts of Europe.

Historians thought that these people were one of the first users of cannabis in southeast Russia and Ukraine. Barney Wark sees a possibility of the Scythians introducing marijuana usage in Europe since the group ruled over several areas for several years.

Tribes of German descent also carried the plant as they journeyed to Germany. The spread of the plants also most likely started when Anglo-Saxon invasions began happening.

This occurrence led many researchers to believe that these invasions became the bridge to Britain having access to the widely known medicinal and spiritual plants.