It all started with a single seed. That seed grew into a plant and eventually made its way around the world, growing in popularity as decades went by. Researchers say the history of cannabis has been around since the Viking and Ancient China days—but where exactly did it come from? And how did it spread like wildfire around the world?
The Origin of the Cannabis Plant
Cannabis plants in all their forms (sativa, indica, and hemp) are believed to have originated in Central Asia, specifically the regions that we now know as Mongolia and Southern Siberia. The history of cannabis goes back 12,000 years ago. According to Live Science, “Both hemp and psychoactive marijuana were used widely in ancient China, Warf wrote. The first record of the drug’s medicinal use dates to 4000 B.C. The herb was used, for instance, as an anesthetic during surgery, and stories say it was even used by the Chinese Emperor Shen Nung in 2737 B.C.”
The Expansion to Other Countries
Soon after its popularity in China, cannabis spread to other parts of Asia including Korea and the Middle East between 2000 B.C. and 1400 B.C. An ancient group of Eurasian Nomadic settlers, known as the Scythians, then transported the plant into Russia and Ukraine. Then cannabis spread to Germany and later Britain during the 5th century. Keep in mind that a handful of these territories were constantly fought over, invaded, and occupied by settlers from other regions. This back-and-forth between natives and outsiders helped cannabis reach new parts of the world as invaders often brought the plant back home with them.
How did Cannabis Get to the US?
At the beginning of the 20th century, cannabis reached the United States via Mexican immigrants who fled their home country during the Revolution of 1910-1911. The American media was quick to associate cannabis with Mexicans in a negative light. “Many early prejudices against marijuana were thinly veiled racist fears of its smokers, often promulgated by reactionary newspapers. Mexicans were frequently blamed for smoking marijuana, property crimes, seducing children, and engaging in murderous sprees.”
Early Cannabis Laws in the US
Because of its negative connotation in the press, 29 of the already-established States (there weren’t 50 back then) outlawed cannabis. Utah was one of the first to ban it in 1915. It’s unbelievable to think that certain states have made zero progress in their cannabis laws since the early days of America. Cannabis remains fully illegal and criminalized in
- South Carolina
The War on Drugs
You’ve probably heard about The War on Drugs in the history of cannabis. It refers to the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act established in 1970. “This included a statute, the Controlled Substances Act, that created categories for controlled substances determined by their medicinal use and addictive qualities,” according to Shop Botanist. The act effectively classified cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug that remains in place to this day in the states listed above.
A section of the Act reads, “Since there is still a considerable void in our knowledge of the plant and effects of the active drug contained in it, our recommendation is that marijuana be retained within schedule 1 at least until the completion of certain studies now underway to resolve the issue.”
Seeing that it’s 2021, maybe it’s time to revisit the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act now that more about cannabis and how it affects us. Cannabis education was lacking back then. Nobody knew if it was harmful or dangerous; the same way no one knew the deadly effects of cigarettes until studies came out. It made sense to illegalize cannabis in 1970…but now…come on. It’s time to give people the freedom of choice to partake in cannabis or not.