Where Does Cannabis Originally Come From?
Cannabis is a hot topic these days, but it’s slowly spreading around the world as people fight for its legalization.
However, it’s by no means a new kind of medicine. Cannabis has been used around the world since antiquity, and it has since gone through a colorful journey through history. But where did the crop come from, and how did this one seed change the world?
Origins In China
Cannabis is believed to have originated from the steppes of Central Asia, particularly the regions now known as southern Siberia and Mongolia, says author Barney Warf, who has written extensively about the origins of cannabis and how it found its way to the United States.
The earliest recorded use of cannabis dates back to ancient China in 4000 BC, where it was used for a variety of medicinal purposes. It was noted that the Chinese Emperor Shen Nung used marijuana for relief from pain back in 2727 BC.
Cannabis is one of the world’s oldest crops, with cannabis seeds from the Xinjiang area found to have been dated from 2500 BC. It’s believed that from there, cannabis made its way to Korea sometime during 2000 BC or even earlier. But in India, cannabis was used to treat anxiety. It eventually made its way to the Middle East when the Scythians used it from 2000 BC to 1400 BC. Herodotus, an ancient Greek historian, wrote about the Scythians inhaling pot from smoldering cannabis flowers and seeds in order to get high. The Scythians reportedly introduced cannabis to Ukraine and Russia within the same time frame.
By the 5th century, cannabis traveled to Germany, then the Germans introduced it to the British.
A 2007 discovery revealed that cannabis seeds were found on Viking ships, which indicate the use of pot dating back to the 9th century. Hashish, commonly known as hash, is a purified type of cannabis that was popular in the Middle East as well as other parts of Asia sometime after 800 AD. The rise of hashish use is correlated to the spread of Islam; it is said that the Quran prohibits the use of intoxicating substances like alcohol but it made no mention of cannabis.
By the 19th century, cannabis was eventually introduced to South and North America. The Mexican Revolution from 1910-1911 is when cannabis is said to have traveled into the United States from Mexico, then the revolts against cannabis began in what we know of today as prohibition.
By 1915, Utah made cannabis illegal, and 29 other states followed suit by 1931. The culprit is Harry Anslinger, who began the efforts toward prohibition in 1930. Ansligner, the first-ever commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, had several attempts to make cannabis illegal and he was successful, even if it took him 7 years to fight the federal government. In 1937, the Marijuana Tax Act became a law.
Marijuana Tax Act
The Marijuana Tax Act is the first US federal law that criminalized the use of cannabis nationwide. The act stipulated that an excise tax would be placed on sales, possessions, and distribution of all kinds of hemp products, which criminalized everything except the industrial use of the plant.
Samuel Caldwell was the first every person to be prosecuted under the Marijuana Tax Act. Fifty-eight-year-old Caldwell was arrested for selling cannabis on October 2, 1937, a day after the act was passed. He was sentenced to 4 years of labor.
The use of industrial hemp proliferated throughout the United States during World War II, and domestic cultivation was encouraged following the fall of the Philippines to the Japanese forces. Wisconsin saw the last planting of hemp fields in 1957.
The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 was signed by President Richard Nixon, which effectively repealed the Marijuana Tax Act. This is what caused cannabis to be listed as a Schedule 1 drug, together with other substances such as ecstasy, LSD, and heroin – dangerous drugs with NO medical purpose and which have a high potential for addiction and abuse.
Fast forward to present day: most of the United States is already cannabis-friendly, either in recreational or medical form. It’s still a controversial topic, as the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has refused to reschedule cannabis and remove it completely from the list of controlled drugs. Countries around the world continue to relax their stance on cannabis, with more nations decriminalizing the possession and sale of legal cannabis each year.