While the legalization of cannabis has been making headlines in the US for over 20 years, its use goes back over 6,000 years. In fact, cannabis has been used both medicinally and recreationally far longer than it’s ever been declared illegal in the US. The world is only recently rediscovering the many benefits of the versatile plant.
First Evidence of Cannabis: Ancient China
Cannabis was grown as a grain in ancient China mainly because it grows quickly. Slowly, other benefits of the plant were realized, and many ancient Asia cultures left their nomadic lifestyles to settle and farm.
Emperor Shen-Nung was the first political leader to accept the medicinal benefits of cannabis and it was often consumed as a tea, used for everything from gout to malaria.
Cannabis Use Spreads Throughout the East
Established trade routes help to spread the plant and its benefits throughout the East. The next oldest recorded history of cannabis is in ancient Egypt. When the mummy of Ramesses II was discovered, DNA samples from his corpse, fabrics, and jewelry all tested positive for cannabis spores.
Within the Hindu religion, cannabis is mentioned for various practices including burials and meditation. In religious texts, it’s referred to as “joy giver” or “source of happiness” among other things. It wasn’t until it reached the nomadic Assyrians that cannabis was used recreationally.
Roman & Green Cannabis Culture
Not only was cannabis a common additive in the Greek and Roman baths, but women of the elite class were also offered the plant in various forms to help ease labor pains as well as to relax the body to help labor progress.
Cannabis Adopted by Western Medicine
It wasn’t until a physician in Ireland began using cannabis as a treatment for several different ailments that use of the plant was accepted into Western medicine. Cannabis eventually made its way to Spain where it was brought to the Americas during the Spanish Conquest.
Becoming popular throughout North America, it was used to treat:
- Labor pains
- And many more ailments
Many medical practitioners also began using it as anesthesia for surgical procedures.
Cannabis History in the US
Up to 1914, cannabis was still legal in the US. It was a common ingredient in “miracle cure tonics” sold by traveling salesmen. However, the Harrison Act that year made cannabis federally illegal. The legality of cannabis in the US was further cemented in 1937 when all forms were banned as was growing it, possessing it, or selling it.
Just four years after the discovery of THC, the US classified cannabis as a Schedule 1 Narcotic and also labeled it as having “no accepted medical use.” Because of this, research of cannabis and its benefits by chemists and medical researchers was severely limited.
Recent Legalization of Cannabis
When CBD was discovered in the cannabis plant in the late 1980s, and then later a process for extracting CBD to be used for medical reasons without the “high” of THC, the views of cannabis in the US started to change. However, it wasn’t until 1993 that it was legalized in California. Since then, several cities and counties, and even some states have legalized cannabis for recreational use and even more have made it legal medicinally.
As the legalization of cannabis as well its components, THC and CBD, continues to spread throughout the US and even to other countries, many doctors and their patients are finding a natural way to treat many diseases and well as ease symptoms of others.