How One Plant Spread Through the World

Chivis Martinez Borderland Beat  from Live Science

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.

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.
Odd Facts About Marijuana
A second
psychoactive species of the plant, 
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).
likely flourished in the nutrient-rich dump sites of prehistoric hunters and
gatherers,” Warf wrote in his study.
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
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.

border: 0px; color: #333333; font-size: 16px; font-stretch: inherit; font-variant-east-asian: inherit; font-variant-numeric: inherit; line-height: inherit; margin: 0px 0px 15px; padding: 0px; position: relative; vertical-align: baseline;”>

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.
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.”
laws never recognized the difference between 
sativa L
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
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.
Show More

Leave a Reply

Photo and Image Files
Audio and Video Files
Other File Types
Notify of
Back to top button
Thanks !

Thanks for sharing this, you are awesome !

Log In

Forgot password?

Don't have an account? Register

Forgot password?

Enter your account data and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Your password reset link appears to be invalid or expired.

Log in

Privacy Policy

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share this post with your friends!