The History of Marijuana
Let's briefly discuss the history of weed!
Bud. Pot. Kush. Dope. Cannabis. Weed. Mary Jane. These are only a few of the recognized names for marijuana. My personal favorite piece of information from all the research I've done on weed is the fact that the majority of society was pretty oblivious to its existence for centuries before it became the universal conversation piece it is today.
Who Discovered Pot's Power First?
The first recorded use of cannabis use was in China. Not just any China, though, prehistoric China! Though there are many people digging and sharing stories from the past, his existence cannot be proven... for he was believed to have lived around 2737 - 2697 B.C. There isn't a lot documenting his existence, which leaves some skeptical. The "Shennong herbal" was believed to have come into existence over 1,000 years ago, which was a publication on herbal medicines. He was so well-known, mythological or not, and around 500 A.D., the Shennong Bencao Jing was published, sharing herbal medicinal information. He is believed to have led people away from diets of a wide variety, in hopes of better health, to a veggie and grain diet. His name is translated as "Divine Farmer" as he was believed to have shared much of his knowledge with his descendants and neighbors. Shennong studied varieties of herbs found in, or being imported to, China around the time he was believed to have ruled. He was reputed to have tasted hundreds of herbs in order to test their medicinal values. For his efforts in these discoveries, Shennong is credited by the Chinese people as the venerated Father of Chinese medicine. It's thanks to this man, that not everyone thinks is real, that we don't accidentally eat a bunch of poisonous herbs!
Shennong collected his various findings on these herbs in a book now deemed to be the origin of Chinese Pharmacology, “The Herbal.” The document was said to have been recorded around 2500 B.C., long after the emperor’s discovery of cannabis.
No copies of that book are currently available, though, so don’t go looking for it on the shelf at your favorite book store. The only copy was said to have been lost at some point after Shennong’s rule ended. Guess they’re not so great with book-keeping, huh?! All jokes aside...
The first crop of “ma”, or hemp as the Chinese referred to the plant, was around 28th Century B.C. This is a seriously old plant here, guys. The hemp was first harvested for use in clothing, but later, other parts of the plants were utilized. The seeds were used as food and oil, the stalks were used for fuel. The medicinal elements of the plant were later added to the Chinese repertoire.
The Ancient Greeks and Romans used cannabis as well. Some have speculated that it was used within the regiments as a means of keeping insurrections under control. Surprisingly enough, they weren’t the firsts to use the plant in this capacity. Despite conquering everything, they loved their herbal medicines. It has been speculated (not confirmed) that during heady debates in Rome, at the Senate, they would break out the torn dried leaves or flowers of the cannabis plant and burn it to keep tempers from boiling over. Bet Caesar wished he’d waited till everyone's tempers were medicated before making his final appearance! Anyway, it was due to these guys that cannabis eventually made its way into the hearts and homes of the Islamic Empire and North Africa.
By 1545, it spread to the Western hemisphere, when Spain decided to get in the mix and began importing it to Chile for use as fiber. In North America, things were similar, hemp was grown on many plantations in the South. Southern plantation owners used the cannabis crops to yield highly valuable textiles, rope, and even paper production -- many of the trees in the area were already claimed for lumber production. Much like the Romans and Greeks, the South advocated the use of cannabis as a means of keeping their workforce under control. It was used as a sedative, a relaxant, and in some cases, a form of sodium pentothal.
The really call ganja the Green Goddess for a reason, don't they?!
As the world began to develop and the staunchness of oppression was weeded out of the South, cannabis began to fall out of favor... until its resurgence during the last 100 years alone in the US.
There are several different strains of this seemingly smokable crop. Cannabis Sativa - the most popular and easiest to find tends to grow wild throughout many tropical and humid parts of the world. Its seeds have been used for things as simple as feed for livestock all the way up to commercial applications as the oil lubricant in some paints. There are two separate plants instead of one plant reproducing asexually. You require both to properly encourage breeding healthy plants and sustainable crossbreeds. Male plants are taller and thinner in appearance, they also have flower-like pods containing the pollen-generating anthers. The female plant is darker, shorter, and like any wild woman, a little hairier than their counterparts. These hairs are short and serve a very specific purpose during the pollination process. The potency of marijuana varies from each strain, but the highest cannabinoids are contained in the female plant.
Potency of Pot
The potency of the bud you're likely to smoke today is, on average, 10% more than the bud from 30 years ago. The average level of THC in weed around the mid-1970’s rose from less than 1% to more than 6 % in 2002. As strains evolved, crossbreeding became easier, and conditions for cultivation became easier to control, the THC levels finally seems to have capped out at 8.5% as recorded in 2008.
The more current strains, known for high potency include:
The primary nations producing these strains are:
Psychoactive Properties of Pot
The main psychoactive part of cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), one of the 483 known compounds in the plant. There are about 65 other cannabinoids. The immediate effects of THC may include:
-a decrease in short term memory
-impaired motor skills
-paranoia or anxiety.
These symptoms can appear within 20 minutes when the plant is eaten or smoked. The effects can usually last between 2 to 6 hours. Weed is the most widely used drug in the world. Between 128-232 million people, in 2013, used weed... that breaks down to around 2.7% to 4.9% of the global population between the general ages of 15 to 65! In 2014, almost half of the American population had used cannabis. Since then, increased to over 50% of the population. About 12% have used it in the past year, despite it being illegal or heavily regulated, and 7.3% have used it in the past month alone. According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, there were 455,000 ER visits associated with cannabis use in 2011.
While marijuana obviously has medicinal benefits, it's also very powerful these days. Its high potency can be dangerous for young users, especially. It can stunt their mental development, so unless a doctor recommends weed for you, leave it for the professionals. Don't become so fascinated with the idea of smoking it that you allow your own mental and physical health to spiral out of control! Learn, share, and stay healthy!