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Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Marijuana's History: How One Plant Spread Through the World

Chivis Martinez Borderland Beat  from Live Science

An artist's image shows marijuana plants overshadowing the Earth.

From the sites where prehistoric hunters and gatherers lived, to ancient China and Viking ships, cannabis has been used across the world for ages, and a new report presents the drug's colorful history.
In the report, author Barney Warf describes how cannabis use originated thousands of years ago in Asia, and has since found its way to many regions of the world, eventually spreading to the Americas and the United States.

"For the most part, it was widely used for medicine and spiritual purposes," during pre-modern times, said Warf, a professor of geography at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. For example, the Vikings and medieval Germans used cannabis for relieving pain during childbirth and for toothaches, he said.

"The idea that this is an evil drug is a very recent construction," and the fact that it is illegal is a "historical anomaly," Warf said. Marijuana has been legal in many regions of the world for most of its history.
Where did pot come from?

It is important to distinguish between the two familiar subspecies of the cannabis plant, Warf said. Cannabis sativa, known as marijuana, has psychoactive properties. The other plant is Cannabis sativa L. (The L was included in the name in honor of the botanist Carl Linnaeus.) This subspecies is known as hemp; it is a nonpsychoactive form of cannabis, and is used in manufacturing products such as oil, cloth and fuel. [11 Odd Facts About Marijuana]

A second psychoactive species of the plant, Cannabis indica, was identified by the French naturalist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, and a third, uncommon one, Cannabis ruderalis, was named in 1924 by Russian botanist D.E. Janischevisky.

Cannabis plants are believed to have evolved on the steppes of Central Asia, specifically in the regions that are now Mongolia and southern Siberia, according to Warf. The history of cannabis use goes back as far as 12,000 years, which places the plant among humanity's oldest cultivated crops, according to information in the book "Marihuana: The First Twelve Thousand Years" (Springer, 1980).

"It likely flourished in the nutrient-rich dump sites of prehistoric hunters and gatherers," Warf wrote in his study.
Burned cannabis seeds have also been found in kurgan burial mounds in Siberia dating back to 3,000 B.C., and some of the tombs of noble people buried in Xinjiang region of China and Siberia around 2500 B.C. have included large quantities of mummified psychoactive marijuana.
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. (However, whether Shen Nung was a real or a mythical figure has been debated, as the first emperor of a unified China was born much later than the supposed Shen Nung.)

From China, coastal farmers brought pot to Korea about 2000 B.C. or earlier, according to the book "The Archeology of Korea" (Cambridge University Press, 1993). Cannabis came to the South Asian subcontinent between 2000 B.C. and 1000 B.C., when the region was invaded by the Aryans — a group that spoke an archaic Indo-European language. The drug became widely used in India, where it was celebrated as one of "five kingdoms of herbs ... which release us from anxiety" in one of the ancient Sanskrit Vedic poems whose name translate into "Science of Charms."

From Asia to Europe

Cannabis came to the Middle East between 2000 B.C. and 1400 B.C., and it was probably used there by the Scythians, a nomadic Indo-European group. The Scythians also likely carried the drug into southeast Russia and Ukraine, as they occupied both territories for years, according to Warf's report. Germanic tribes brought the drug into Germany, and marijuana went from there to Britain during the 5th century with the Anglo-Saxon invasions. [See map of marijuana's spread throughout the world.]

Click on image to enlarge--This map shows how marijuana spread throughout the world, from its origins on the steppes of Central Asia. (Image credit: Barney Warf, University of Kansas )
"Cannabis seeds have also been found in the remains of Viking ships dating to the mid-ninth century," Warf wrote in the study.

Over the next centuries, cannabis migrated to various regions of the world, traveling through Africa, reaching South America in the 19th century and being carried north afterwards, eventually reaching North America.
How did marijuana get to the United States?

After this really long "trip" throughout the pre-modern and modern worlds, cannabis finally came to the United States at the beginning of the 20th century. It arrived in the southwest United States from Mexico, with immigrants fleeing that country during the Mexican Revolution of 1910-1911.
"Many early prejudices against marijuana were thinly veiled racist fears of its smokers, often promulgated by reactionary newspapers," Warf wrote in his report. "Mexicans were frequently blamed for smoking marijuana, property crimes, seducing children and engaging in murderous sprees."
Americans laws never recognized the difference between Cannabis sativa L. and Cannabis sativa. The plant was first outlawed in Utah in 1915, and by 1931 it was illegal in 29 states, according to the report.
In 1930, Harry Aslinger became the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) and undertook multiple efforts to make marijuana illegal in all states. In 1937, the Marijuana Tax Act put cannabis under the regulation of the Drug Enforcement Agency, criminalizing possession of the plant throughout the country.
"Today, the federal government still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance, along with heroin and LSD, indicating it has high potential for abuse and addiction, no accepted medical uses and no safe level of use," Warf wrote.
And Cannabis? New report from 2019

Cannabis may have originated high on the Tibetan Plateau, according to an analysis of fossil pollen.
While this medicinal and psychotropic plant was long thought to have first evolved in central Asia, scientists were hazy on the precise location. That's because there isn't much evidence of ancient cannabis in fossil impressions — imprints that plants leave behind in rock.
But there was abundant fossil pollen representing the Cannabis genus, scientists recently reported. However, past evaluations of fossil pollen in Asia lumped together Cannabis pollen with related plants in the Humulus genus (some of which produce hops used in beer).

For the new study, researchers separated Cannabis and Humulus pollen from 155 studies and mapped them to regions across Asia, to clarify where and when Cannabis emerged.

The scientists identified fossil pollen as belonging to Cannabis plants if it appeared alongside other types of pollen from a steppe ecosystem — open, treeless habitats where Cannabis is known to thrive. They discovered that the earliest Cannabis fossil pollen placed the genus in northwestern China, and dated to about 19.6 million years ago.

But Cannabis diverged from Humulus around 28 million years ago, suggesting that it might have originated somewhere else, the study authors wrote in the new study.

While the researchers didn't find any Cannabis pollen dating to 28 million years ago, they did find 28-million-year-old pollen from Artemisia, another genus of steppe plant that grew abundantly alongside Cannabis millions of years later. This earliest evidence of Artemisia showed up on the Tibetan Plateau near Qinghai Lake, a location about 10,700 feet (3,260 meters) above sea level.

Using a statistical model, the study authors estimated that since the assembly of plants in that location — including Artemisia — were found with Cannabis in other locations millions of years later, it was likely that Cannabis was also present in this high-altitude ecosystem, even if there was no direct evidence of Cannabis pollen, they wrote in the study.

From the Tibetan Plateau, Cannabis reached Europe approximately 6 million years ago, and spread as far as eastern China by 1.2 million years ago, the scientists reported.


  1. Replies
    1. Medicinal until it gets classified, becomes illegal because of the influence of criminals and drug traffickers and people getting so addicted that killing others for the money is an "option", and then they progress into harder drugs or just killing for cash, no better example then affluent US, but there are the Mexican grameros doing it for the maruchan or their cartels for all the marbles.
      If grifa is so good, so is money, both have cost people their lives and worse, maybe GREED and the greedy is what should be criminalized.☻

  2. Great read, it was only made illegal to punish Mexicans.

    1. That’s where the popularization of the term “marijuana” came from. It is a Mexican-Spanish word that Anslinger seized on to associate cannabis with the racist fear of Mexicans that was prevalent in the day.

    2. Please elaborate

    3. Trust me, they punished allot of people from all ethnicities. Before legalization here, the jails were full of white guys, busted for miniscule possession. As a grower in the late 80's to early 2000's, I was constantly being sought by LE. There's always been racism amongst police, they're human. But, if you don't want trouble with police, don't do dirt.

    4. The is some historical documents and evidence to suggest that the alcohol and tobacco industries lobbied to outlaw marijuana in order to defeat its threat to out compete the former.

    5. Great read and great article. It wasn’t just Mexican Americans that Anslinger targeted it was African-Americans as well And he used his good buddys William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer to spread the racist term marijuana. They wanted to use wood pulp to manufacture their papers and teamed up with the Dupont corporation who had the patent on that process to spread the lies and false propaganda that killed numerous African-Americans and Hispanics. Anslinger got more agents for his Federal Bureau of narcotics and an expanded budget. Anslinger ran the Federal Bureau of narcotics the DEA was not created until Nixon created it in July 1973.

    6. Regardless of individual experiences the truth in the matter is it's illegalization was birthed by fear .... Not general studies but general white perceptions

    7. Dumb asses and marijuana belong together, in prison.

    8. “It was only made illegal to punish Mexicans”
      Why always with the Mexican persecution complex?
      I see it all the time here and it has to be holding you back.
      Really, instead of always blaming the white man for all your problems, why don’t you try looking in a mirror?
      Just once!

    9. Hint : Maria y Juana both Spanish names why not call it John Smith js

    10. 9:01 you always jump in defense of the indefensible, but the red skins who robbed the tea in Boston Harbour were white men, as were many other participants in racist crookery like importing black slaves or stealing brown and red people land and then accusing them of attacking...
      hellshet! The only half black guy the US indicted and put in prison was juan ramon matta ballesteros for iran contra, all the white boys got presidential pardons, the Mexicans put their own in jail too, and the white supremacists even got their own in their Whites' House these days, pretending "there are good people on both sides".
      --Get your racist blinders off before commenting, boy...

  3. En michoacan la Mota se da natural en la sierra por montón

    1. I would hope your people have kept the old pure strains around without hybridizing with the indica skunk seed company stuff. We used to get some good mota from Mexico, Columbia, even Asia, here in California. Alas no more. Marijuana has been ruined in my experience, because of hybridization.

  4. They used to call it “ditch-weed” in early 20th century America for a reason; you can see photos from the 1950s in Brooklyn of police destroying cannabis plants that were growing wild all over the city.

  5. Learned something new today, thank you! I haven't smoked weed in 30 years but I'm pretty sure the urge to go hide in a closet after smoking a joint would still be there.

    1. Lol no shite. Stuff just makes me paranoid delusional . Must not do everyone that way or they wouldn’t like it.

    2. It probably would, and that is why mota isn’t for you. Certain people and substances just don’t mix, like the dude who tries to get into bar fights every time he is drunk.

  6. Not related to this article ..but Culiacan just got hot again ..wait for the putasos between them .....dec 3 @ 3:30pm

  7. It’s sad how many little kids go without eating because their parents eat the food they buy after getting high pot and use up their food stamps.

    1. 4:29 the idea is to feed the worldly banksters, 90% of the money they launder is their to keep, no questions asked, just pay their miserly fines of a few billion dollars and keep the rest, it pays to them to be "organized criminals" who then offshore the US companies they expropriate with their laundered affluence...Mitt Romney are experts on this shit. (and the people they have left under or unemployed all over the US)

  8. Y esto y no chingaderas es El verdadero tesoro de la Sierra Madre Cabrones!!!

  9. The FDA And big pharmaceutical companies are the real guys they gotta go after. If people wanted to smoke weed to feel better it would put a lot of rich people and stock holders out of work. Mexico is bad, but USA Is just as bad. Allowing people to stay or get sick simply to sell more “legal” drugs. What a joke.

  10. Illegalization of marijuana was simply a racist tool to incarcerate poor Latinos, Blacks n Whites. Legalization is a Civil Rights issue to right the wrongs of the past. Anslinger was a racist. Recommend watching Grass is Greener on Netflix.

  11. 🎶Alsa the mano si gusta marijuana alsa la mano si te gusta fumar 🎶


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