History of Cannabis

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How cannabis was first consumed and eventually migrated around the world

Tracing the roots of cannabis and its first uses

You smell it, you smoke it and you cook with it. But where does cannabis come from and how did this miraculous plant migrate across the world and leave such a psychedelic presence?

From Central Asia to Spain, Morocco and the Middle East, we followed the misty clouds of smoke that followed the cannabis plant from its native roots to identify its origins and how many cultures have integrated the plant into everyday life.   

The history of cannabis closely follows patterns of migration, conquest and trade routes and has experienced varying degrees of acceptance and consumption throughout history. The plant originated in Central Asia and spread rapidly throughout the world.

Prior to domestication, the presence of cannabis in Mongolia, southern Siberia, the Huang He river valley, the Hindu Kush mountains, South Asia and Afghanistan fluctuated with the movement of the Pleistocene glaciers. Cannabis is a plant that loves the sun and cold, combined with the icy shadows of those glaciers, prevented cannabis from thriving.

One of the earliest documented uses of cannabis was hemp rope in the Czech Republic, dating back to 2900 B.C. The first documented use of cannabis as an anaesthetic dates back to 4000 B.C. The first documented use of cannabis as an anaesthetic dates back to 4000 B.C. The use of hemp rope as an anaesthetic dates back to 4000 B.C. The Pazyryk tribes of Siberia consumed cannabis seeds for their nutritional qualities and burned them during burial ceremonies, as evidenced by their presence in burial mounds dating back to 3000 B.C. Yanghai tombs in the Turpan Basin of Xinjiang, dating back to 2500 B.C., have also been discovered to have contained mummified cannabis.

The first case of cannabis use is attributed to the Chinese herbalist, Emperor Shen Nung. Around 2700 B.C., he classified more than 365 medicinal herbs, many of which are still used today in oriental medical practices. His documents on cannabis show the plant as a remedy for rheumatism, malaria, gout, and more. Cannabis first appeared in Korea and Japan through Neolithic China around 2000 BC.

Cannabis seeds

The Scythians, Indo-European nomads known to have cultivated cannabis for ritual and funeral purposes, introduced the plant to Iran and Anatolia between 2000 and 1400 B.C. by travelling through the Altai Mountains. The Altai Mountains later became part of the Silk Road, a vast and ancient network of trade routes linking the eastern and western parts of civilization on the Korean peninsula with the Mediterranean Sea. The Scythians participated in many social rituals involving cannabis that have been documented by the Greek historian Herodotus. As the Silk Road began to take official shape, cannabis was soon introduced to Greece, Egypt and Africa. The tomb of Ramses II contained cannabis pollen and many mummies have been found with traces of cannabinoids, indicating that the plant had been present since at least the 19th Egyptian dynasty.

The Scythians are also believed to be responsible for the introduction of cannabis into Russia and Ukraine during various occupations. As early as 3000 B.C., the plant spread to Eastern Europe. Burnt cannabis seeds have been found in archaeological sites from Finland to Bulgaria, and hemp seeds can be found in traditional Lithuanian and Polish recipes.

India has many long-standing traditions involving the consumption of cannabis in the form of a drink called "bhang", a tea mixed with milk. There is literature on people in India who have smoked resin and on yogis smoking cannabis mixed with tobacco to increase the effectiveness of meditation. Cannabis is mentioned several times in Sanskrit Vedic poetry, having been described as an anxiety relieving herb. Since at least 1400 B.C., cannabis has been considered sacred in Hindu culture.

Cannabis played an important role in Greco-Roman cultures as a source of fibre and intoxicants. In Pompeii, the city frozen by volcanic ash in 79 A.D., cannabis seeds were found in the ruins. The Greek rhetorician Athenaeus noted that hemp was used to make ropes between 170 and 230 A.D., and the Roman writer Lucilius cites hemp as a source of sails and canvas.

artisanal processing of hemp for industrial fabrics

Cannabis arrived in Spain after the Moorish invasion in the eighth century and Morocco remains one of the world's largest producers of hashish, a potent cannabis concentrate.

By the thirteenth century, hashish had become widely used for recreational and religious purposes in the Middle East as well, eventually leading to repression by the then governor of Cairo. Also around the thirteenth century, cannabis had been introduced into East Africa through Egypt and Ethiopia, through merchants.

The expansion of cannabis throughout Africa closely followed the Muslim migration throughout the country, gradually moving towards Bantu speakers and then towards the Zambezi valley, where it had been used in 1531 when the Portuguese arrived in the region. South Africans have been using cannabis, known as "dagga", for at least 500 years.

Cannabis offered a significant opportunity for trade with the Dutch, whose use dates back to at least the 1600s. It was also commonly used by the Tswana, Zulus, Sotho and Swazis at that time. Under British rule in the 1800s, Indian indentured servants living in South Africa used cannabis extensively. Anthropologists in the Congo and the tropical rainforest of Ituri have noted the use of cannabis among indigenous tribes. In West Africa, cannabis use was rare until the Second World War, when British and French soldiers stationed there introduced the plant.

The Spanish introduced cannabis into the Americas in the mid-1500s, where it was cultivated in North American plantations for the manufacture of rope, paper and other fibre products. Settlers in Jamestown even fined those who did not produce hemp in the early 1600s. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both grew hemp.

Hemp harvesting in the 1800s

When the modern civilized world developed and the global capitalist system as we know it today was established, cannabis spread throughout the world, thanks to traders, missionaries, nomadic tribes and world leaders who tried to take advantage of its value. Cannabis was widely accepted throughout the world until the early 1800s.

The Movement to Ban Marijuana, a propaganda tale, the choice of words and the "war on drugs".

The first formal ban on cannabis use was issued by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1799, whose troops were introduced to the herb during their conquest of Egypt and brought it back to France as spoils of war. Bonaparte feared that cannabis would soften his troops and forbade them to smoke or drink cannabis, imposing a prison sentence of three months for those who violated his order.

In the 1800s, the British, in an attempt to control the unrest in colonized India, began restricting the production and consumption of cannabis and cast a negative light on its users by conducting an investigation that concluded that the use of the herb had led to insanity. The survey was later criticized for its careless use of statistics and eventually discredited, but the negative effects of its negative perception persisted.

In the early 1900s, the prevailing attitude towards cannabis in the United States took a decisive turn thanks to a combination of political, cultural and financial factors. U.S. legislation prohibiting marijuana began to emerge at the state level, with a ban by Massachusetts in 1911.

In addition, in the early 1900s, the first countries to ban cannabis completely were Jamaica and South Africa in 1911, followed by Canada, Great Britain and New Zealand in 1913.

In the early 1900s, cannabis users were mainly Mexican immigrants who arrived in the United States during the Mexican Revolution of 1910-1920, African-American jazz musicians in and around New Orleans, and Caribbean immigrants and gypsies north of New Orleans. The term used by Mexican immigrants at that time was "marihuana", a word that propagandists would later use to encourage cannabis prohibition.

In the 1920s, many states passed laws regulating marijuana as a poison, including Iowa, Nevada, Oregon, Washington State, Arkansas, Nebraska, Louisiana and Colorado. At the time alcohol prohibition was repealed in 1933, another 30 states had laws prohibiting the use of cannabis.

The gap between reality and perception of cannabis has been deepened in culture through a concerted effort by media magnate William Randolph Hearst and Harry Anslinger, America's first drug czar, to cast a negative light on cannabis. Andrew Mellon, the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, was Anslinger's boss and his wife's uncle. Mellon also held stakes in Mellon Bank, a major lender to the DuPont company, which was launching a range of synthetic papers with which industrial hemp paper would compete. Like Hearst, the DuPont Company, and Mellon by extension, had a vested interest in restricting access to cannabis-derived paper products and industrial hemp production.

During Anslinger's tenure as Commissioner of the U.S. Treasury Department's Federal Bureau of Narcotics, he was known to publicly attack the character of cannabis consumers, including through racist and prejudicial remarks. He is often quoted as saying, "There are 100,000 marijuana smokers in the United States, and most of them are black, Hispanic, Filipino and artistic. Their satanic music, jazz and swing are the result of marijuana consumption. This marijuana causes white women to have sex with niggers, artists and other people."

Hearst ran Anslinger's positions on the front page of his newspapers, fuelling fears of depravity, crime and an influx of minorities threatening the delicate sensibilities of Americans.

By 1937, the American propaganda campaign had managed to weave disinformation and paranoia into the fabric of cannabis conversation around the world. The 1933 propaganda film, Reefer Madness, illustrates the level of inaccuracies surrounding the perception of cannabis at the time, depicting cannabis smokers as wild and uncontrollable, almost animistic in their behaviour.

Against the recommendation of the American Medical Association, the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 was passed on 2 October 1937. In the decades that followed, tougher laws, such as the Boggs Act of 1951, resulted in harsher penalties for cannabis-related offences.

The 1937 Marihuana Tax Act was repealed in 1969, but the following year, President Richard Nixon enacted the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). The CSA deemed cannabis to have "no accepted medical use" and included additional restrictions that classified cannabis as a Class 1 drug. The classification of cannabis as a Class 1 drug significantly reduced medical and scientific research. In 1971, President Nixon declared war on the drug, then created the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and, in 1972, the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse.

In 1982, President Reagan renewed the call for a "war on drugs," which emphasized a strict "zero tolerance policy" that led to prison overcrowding across the country and the creation of minimum sentencing laws. Since its inception in 1971, the war on drugs has cost the United States more than $1 trillion and is considered an economic and criminal failure.

The perception of cannabis continues to change, with 2015 polls showing that the majority of U.S. citizens support medical marijuana. Although local efforts to legalize cannabis have been successful in countries such as the United States, Uruguay, Canada and Australia, it remains illegal in most countries of the world.

The end of cannabis prohibition, a brief history of how science untangles the development of misguided laws

It took the work of many cannabis legalization advocates, scientists, doctors, researchers and politicians to pave the way for a more open approach to cannabis policy - and the battle is not over. Although the United States was in the spotlight after the passage of the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, the acceptance of cannabis around the world ranged from legal hashish in India to restricted access in China and the Middle East.

In 1942, American hemp production received a boost when President Franklin Roosevelt, by Executive Order, authorized the cultivation of industrial hemp for the production of canvas, rope and oil in support of World War II. After the war, however, the order was rescinded and all hemp cultivation ended with farmers being ordered to plough the remaining fields.

In 1946, researchers first discovered the distinct properties of individual cannabinoids, learning that mice given THC showed signs of psychotropic activity while mice given CBD did not.

In 1964, Israeli researcher Raphael Mechoulam (with the Weizmann Institute) was the first to identify and synthesize tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound in marijuana. Mechaloum's discovery paved the way for increased interest in the medical uses of cannabis and the eventual discovery of the human endocannabinoid system in the early 1990s.

Medical use of marijuana began to expand as California became the first state to legalize it in 1996, followed shortly thereafter by Alaska, Oregon, and Washington in 1998. Maine followed the next year.

As medical marijuana reform proved increasingly popular in more and more pockets in the United States of America, public perception of cannabis began to change significantly. Beginning in the 1990s, there was a dramatic reversal in the approval rating for cannabis legalization - and it was not just among young people. For every age group, opinion about ending marijuana prohibition improved significantly.

Americans were not only expressing their new openness to the legalization of cannabis in surveys. Voter-led voting initiatives were the backbone of the marijuana movement. As the perception of the plant shifted from medicine to medicine, a wave of policy change that even most activists could not have foreseen at one point swept the country, overturning nearly 80 years of harmful and misguided legislation.

While California voters paved the way for patients across the country by passing medical legalization in 1996, it was Coloradans who took the next step in 2012 by passing the legalization of recreational cannabis, followed shortly thereafter by Washington State. By 2017, eight states and Washington, D.C., had legalized adult marijuana and had begun to collect tax revenues from the cultivation and sale of cannabis products.

On the international scene, Uruguay became the first country to legalize recreational use in 2013. Canada's recreational cannabis program is expected to be in full swing in 2018. Elsewhere in the world, Catalonia, Amsterdam, Spain, Costa Rica and Peru allow some form of cannabis use among their citizens.

The expanded scope of cannabis legalization opens the door to further research, regulation and reform. With more applied science in the cannabis industry and less influence on the black market, the future of the plant looks greener than ever.

Cannabis as a new sports medicine

Although sports seasons begin and end, the world of sports never stops. Every day, all over the world, a basketball team trains with its three pointers, prospects spend countless hours in the weight room, friends get together for a game of soccer, or someone is training for their first marathon.

Whether you are a professional athlete, a sports enthusiast hoping for a championship season or the weekend warrior on the race track, the physical excellence, superb team dynamics and thrill of competition speak to us all.

Another universal truth in the world of sport and athletics is injury.

It's not a question of whether you're going to sustain an injury, it's a question of time. When faced with an injury, a good recovery plan is crucial. Athletes, whether professional or amateur, need treatments that allow them to recover quickly, effectively and with as few undesirable side effects as possible. More than ever, there is a growing awareness of the risks of competition and the long-term effects of concussions, damaged nervous systems, bone damage, arthritis and torn muscle tissue.

The advent of cannabis as a new sports medicine has provided an alternative for athletes at all levels of competition.

Ancestral medicine for modern professionals  

In July 2017, the National Football League (NFL) made headlines when it expressed interest in studying the potential use of cannabis as a pain treatment for its players. The announcement was made after the players' union, the NFL Players Association (NFLPA), had already undertaken its own independent study of cannabis-related research.

The new interest in cannabis as a sports medicine follows former players calling on the NFL to revise its marijuana policy. Upon their retirement, these former NFL athletes turned to cannabis to relieve the long-term pain directly associated with injuries sustained while playing collision sport at a professional level.

Ricky Williams, a former NFL MLA and cannabis advocate, is one of the loudest NFL retirees in the NFL's pro-cannabis community. "I knew and felt the ways that cannabis helped me and improved my well-being in so many ways - physically, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually and creatively," Williams said.

The alternative to using cannabis treatments is relief for athletes who experienced pain long after their playing days were over. Prescription opioids are currently the primary treatment option for the management of athletic pain. Opioid medications have been shown to be ineffective for chronic, long-term pain and carry serious long-term risks that include aggravation of pain, addiction, withdrawal and fatal overdoses. In a study commissioned by ESPN, one of the key findings was that 52% of retired gamblers used prescription pain medication during their careers, and 71% admitted to abusing these drugs during their gambling days.

"That pain will never go away. My body is damaged," said Eugene Monroe, formerly of the Baltimore Ravens. Since then, Monroe has successfully treated his pain with cannabis. "I have to do it somehow. Handling it with pills was slowly killing me. Now I'm able to function and be extremely effective by finding ways to use different formulations of cannabis."

The frequency with which professional athletes are prescribed opioid-based medications and the growing concern about opioid overdoses and opioid-related deaths among athletes (and people in general), as well as the ability of cannabis to relieve pain and reduce anxiety, have led the stewards of some of the most well-known professional sports leagues to seriously consider the use of cannabis for the well-being of their players.

You don't have to be a pro to recover like anyone else.

And it's not just professional athletes who are looking for safer and more effective recovery methods. Any athlete or person with an active lifestyle can benefit from these types of alternative treatments. Regardless of the type of activity, cannabis can help athletes and active people (weekend warriors, cyclists, hikers and yoga enthusiasts) protect themselves from various injuries and help them recover.

Maps of weed infestation sites

Injuries that can be treated with cannabis vary from minor to severe, depending on the activity and athlete, but the most common are as follows:

- Swollen/sore muscles

- Fractures

- Dislocated joints

- Headaches

- Anxiety

- Repetitive head injury

Cannabis contains compounds called "phytocannabinoids" that are very similar to compounds produced by the human body, called "endocannabinoids". The cannabinoids in cannabis interact with receptors in our body to help establish and maintain homeostasis, or balance. These same receptors, when stimulated by the cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, can help reduce a myriad of injuries and illnesses. The most common medicinal benefits of cannabis include :

- Reduction of inflammation

- Pain Relief

- Head trauma/neuro-protection

- Wound and bone healing

- Reduced anxiety

- Rehabilitation and Rehabilitation

Williams' personal history of cannabis substitution is supported by research that reveals that Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), an intoxicating phytocannabinoid, is a potent anti-inflammatory drug with 20 times the anti-inflammatory power of aspirin and twice the potency of the steroid hydrocortisone.  

Cannabidiol (CBD), the second most important cannabinoid in the cannabis flower, is non-toxic and has several medicinal properties including anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, antioxidant, anticonvulsant and anxiolytic.

When THC and CBD are used together, their combined effects act synergistically to provide increased benefits.

Take less downtime with cannabis products

Implementing policy changes to allow the use of cannabis treatments in professional leagues may take time, but amateur athletes living in States where cannabis is legal can now use cannabis treatments. Athletes and active adults can include cannabis products in their training programmes and recovery treatments to promote their long-term well-being.

There are a number of products that use both THC and CBD in various forms and varieties. The emergence of CBD-based products has opened the door for athletes who want to avoid the intoxicating effects of THC. The most common types of CBD-only products are as follows:

- CBD water

- Topics in the news

- Dyes

- Capsules

- Transdermal stamps

- Sublingual sprays

These products make it easy for people to use the different compounds contained in cannabis for effective, non-invasive recovery. Whether you are relieving sore muscles after a long run or re-educating your body after a serious injury, cannabis helps you play harder, heal faster and last longer.

Cannabis for pediatric patients

How the development of endocannabinoid systems synchronizes with medical compounds found in cannabis plants

The use of cannabis to treat illnesses is not new. In fact, humans have been using the therapeutic properties of the plant for hundreds of years. But when it comes to treating children with cannabis, old stigmas and a lack of familiarity can make parents uncomfortable with the idea. This is why there is a need for a better understanding of how cannabis works medically.

Here we look at how cannabis is used in paediatrics without judgment or stigma. But first, a quick understanding of the science behind cannabis.

The medicinal compounds in the cannabis plant interact with a complex system in the brain and body called the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a signalling system responsible for maintaining the balance of chemical messages that are sent between our cells. The human body produces compounds called endocannabinoids, which are "cannabis-like" molecules that are very similar to the cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Endocannabinoids work to maintain the homeostasis - the balance - of our cells. When there is an imbalance in these compounds, disease can result. We've only known about ECS since 1988, but recent research is helping us understand the crucial role it plays in disorders that have not been well understood or effectively treated before.

There is growing evidence that children with epilepsy, autism and other psychiatric illnesses have dysfunction in their CBE. When this system does not function properly, the chemical messages in the brain are not balanced and this imbalance is expressed in seizures, abnormal behaviour and atypical thought processes.

Studien haben gezeigt, dass ein gesundes und funktionstüchtiges Endocannabinoid-System für eine korrekte Gehirnentwicklung notwendig ist. In der Adoleszenz ist das sich entwickelnde Gehirn sehr anfällig. Ein Eingriff in die natürlichen Veränderungen, die zu einem gesunden erwachsenen Gehirn führen, kann die Hirnreifung signifikant verändern. Untersuchungen haben gezeigt, dass körperlich gesunde Jugendliche, die chronisch hohe Dosen von THC konsumieren, gefährdet sind. Die Forschung hat gezeigt, dass diese ansonsten gesunden Jugendlichen ein erhöhtes Risiko für Probleme mit der Exekutivfunktion, Impulsivität, Gedächtnisprobleme, Aufmerksamkeitsprobleme, Entscheidungsfindungsprobleme und einen insgesamt niedrigeren IQ und verbalen IQ haben. Damit das Endocannabinoidsystem richtig fortschreiten und zur Entwicklung eines gesunden, reifen erwachsenen Gehirns beitragen kann, sollten Minderjährige, die ansonsten gesund sind, THC und Cannabis meiden.

Was ist mit Kindern, denen es medizinisch nicht gut geht? Es sind weitere Forschungsarbeiten erforderlich, um die langfristigen Auswirkungen des Cannabiskonsums bei Minderjährigen zu ermitteln, die sich nicht in einem guten medizinischen Zustand befinden. Was wir wissen, ist, dass die Cannabispflanze uns Cannabidiol, auch bekannt als CBD, gibt. CBD ist eine Verbindung, die nicht berauschend ist und mit ihren krampflösenden, antioxidativen, angstlösenden, antipsychotischen, entzündungshemmenden und antitumoralen Eigenschaften einen enormen medizinischen Wert hat. Cannabis kann mit hohen Mengen an CBD und sehr geringen Mengen an THC, so genannten "CBD-reichen" Stämmen, angebaut werden. In diesen Stämmen ist immer noch eine kleine Menge THC enthalten, aber die Gesamterfahrung wird von den Auswirkungen der CBD dominiert. Es ist wichtig, darauf hinzuweisen, dass es zwar keine Langzeitstudien zur CBD gibt, dass aber diejenigen, die Kinder mit CBD behandeln, über keine negativen Auswirkungen berichtet haben. Tatsächlich sehen Ärzte, die CBD zur Behandlung einsetzen, dass Kinder, die zuvor eine sehr schlechte Prognose hatten, mit unkontrollierten Krampfanfällen, Entwicklungsverzögerungen und kognitiven Funktionsstörungen eher fortschreiten als sich zurückbilden. Viele von ihnen sind in der Lage, die Einnahme von Arzneimitteln einzustellen, die möglicherweise nicht wirksam waren und in der Regel zu unerwünschten oder unerwünschten Nebenwirkungen führen.

Cannabis bei pädiatrischer Epilepsie

Die Last der Epilepsie und die negativen Auswirkungen auf die Lebensqualität von Menschen mit dieser neurologischen Erkrankung haben eine von den Eltern geführte Bewegung zum Konsum von CBD-reichem Cannabis ausgelöst. Die Wissenschaftler reagierten darauf, indem sie sich auf die Erforschung der Frage konzentrierten, wie ECS ein Behandlungsziel für diese Patienten sein könnte. Es gibt wissenschaftliche Hinweise darauf, dass Menschen mit Epilepsie an einem Endocannabinoidmangel leiden, der zu einem Zustand führt, in dem der Fluss von Neurotransmittern im Gehirn übererregt wird, was zu einer abnormalen Zündung von Gehirnzellen führt. Es gibt auch Hinweise auf eine signifikante neurologische Entzündung im Gehirn in der Krise. CBD reduziert diese Übererregung und ist ein starkes Entzündungshemmungsmittel. In den meisten Fällen handelt es sich bei der CBD-Behandlung um Cannabisöl, das unter die Zunge verabreicht, mit dem Mund oder durch eine Gastrostomie-Röhre geschluckt wird.

Cannabis bei pädiatrischem Autismus

Die drei herausforderndsten Symptome für Familien von Kindern mit Autismus sind Kommunikationsschwierigkeiten, sich wiederholende Verhaltensweisen und soziale Herausforderungen, einschließlich Wutanfälle und selbstverletzendes Verhalten. Obwohl die FDA zwei Medikamente, beide antipsychotisch, zur Behandlung von Reizbarkeit im Zusammenhang mit Autismus zugelassen hat, haben sie unerwünschte Nebenwirkungen und sind möglicherweise als Behandlung nicht wirksam, so dass viele Familien ohne eine Lösung bleiben.

CBE regulates emotional responses, including anxiety, behavioural responsiveness to context, social interaction and immune system function - all functions affected by autism. Preliminary data link autism to CTS impairment. Many children with autism find better communication, less repetitive behaviours, less anxiety and better social interaction with cannabis oil use.

Cannabis for Pediatric Cancer

Parents often look for cannabis-based medications to help their children relieve the symptoms of undesirable side effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. In some cases, after learning that cancer treatment is not working, parents are desperate to find a cure.

Animal studies have shown that cannabinoids inhibit the growth of tumours, cause cancer cells to commit suicide (apoptosis), inhibit metastasis and inhibit the growth of new blood vessels in tumours. Cannabinoids have also been shown to enhance the effects of certain chemo-therapeutic agents. Only two clinical trials have been conducted in humans, both in patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive brain tumor. Both studies reported benefits with cannabis oil, which included both THC and CBD. Cannabis is proving to be a safe option in these very sick children and there are many cases of patients with improved quality of life.


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