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The whole history of cannabis

The cannabis plant is estimated to have been used by humans for over six millennia. But how was it first consumed and how did it travel to the four corners of the world? The first evidence of hemp cultivation dates back to 4000 BC in the village of Pan-p'o in China.

At that time, cannabis was used to make textiles, paper, rope or even oil. About 2,000 years later, it made its first appearance in Chinese medical texts. From Imperial China to its introduction into modern Western medicine, we invite you to discover the roots and history of cannabis through this article.

The earliest uses of cannabis

One of the earliest written records of cannabis use dates back to 4000 BC where it was used as an anesthetic. In 3000 BC, the Pazyryk tribes of Siberia used the seeds for their nutritional value and burned them in funeral ceremonies. Mummified cannabis has also been found in tombs in the Turpan Basin in Xinjiang that date to -2,500 B.C.

At the same time, the first cases of cannabis use were documented by the Chinese herbalist and emperor Shen Nung. The latter classified no less than 365 medicinal plants, most of which are still used today. In his writings on cannabis, he explains that the plant is used to treat rheumatism, gout, malaria and other conditions. Cannabis then spread to Japan and Korea a few years later.

Between 2,000 and 1,400 BC, Indo-European nomads introduced hemp to Iran and Anatolia. It was in these mountains that part of the Silk Road was built. Thanks to this commercial network between East and West, hemp arrived in Greece, Egypt and Africa. Many mummies, including that of the famous Ramses II, have been found with cannabis pollen, which confirms the presence of this plant during the nineteenth Egyptian dynasty.

The use of hemp in the industrial world

Cannabis arrived in Europe, and particularly in Spain through the Muslim conquest in the eighth century. Even today, Morocco is one of the most important producers of hemp in the world.

The use of hemp in the industrial world

From the 13th century, hemp began to be used for recreational purposes, but also during religious rites. It was at the same time that the plant was introduced into East Africa. Hemp continues its expansion throughout the continent and progresses to South Africa. Under the control of English settlers, Indian servants living in South Africa and indigenous tribes consumed cannabis for therapeutic purposes.

In America, it was the Spanish colonists who introduced hemp in the 16th century. Cannabis plants grown in northern America were used to make rope and paper from the fiber. Cannabis continued to spread around the world thanks to merchants, missionaries, nomadic tribes and great leaders. Until the early 1800s, hemp was present and accepted on the majority of the planet.

The prohibition of hemp

Napoleon Bonaparte was the first to formally ban the use of cannabis in 1799. French troops had brought back hemp from their conquest in Africa as war booty. However, Napoleon Bonaparte feared that this plant would affect the abilities of his troops. That's why he forbade them to smoke or consume cannabis by threatening them with a prison sentence.

Also in the 1800s, it was the British who gave cannabis a bad name by believing that its use led to insanity. Despite scientific research and criticism, the harmful effects of hemp became entrenched. In 1911, it was the United States, specifically Massachusetts that banned hemp.

During the 1900s, several countries will follow this wave of prohibition: South Africa, Jamaica, Canada, Great Britain and New Zealand. The U.S. propaganda campaign, misinformation, and concerns about cannabis spread, even to the point of labeling the plant a Class 1 drug. Laws intensified and penalties for cannabis-related offences increased. In the 1970s, the United States creates the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) and declares war on cannabis, which it considers a drug.

The end of hemp prohibition

The end of the hemp ban

It took a lot of time, scientific research and advocates to rehabilitate cannabis' image and end its strict prohibition. Even in 2023, the battle isn't over and there's still a long way to go to permanently change minds.

In the 1960s, an Israeli researcher identified, isolated and synthesized THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the plant's psychoactive cannabinoid. This discovery paved the way for the first medical and therapeutic uses of hemp, but also for the discovery of the endocannabinoid system in the 1990s.

California becomes the first state to legalize the medical use of cannabis 1996, followed by Oregon, Alaska, Washington and Maine. The general public's perception changes and cannabis regains popularity. In 2012, Colorado legalizes recreational cannabis use, followed by Washington and 8 other states.

Internationally, Uruguay is the first country to legalize recreational use in 2013. Then Canada in 2018. Some countries such as Holland, Spain, Costa Rica, and Peru allow some forms of cannabis.

Now, it is CBD (cannabidiol) that is the most popular and marketed cannabinoid around the world for its therapeutic properties, including pain and stress relief. It is generally used for:

  • reduce stress and anxiety;
  • combat sleep disorders;
  • relieve chronic pain;
  • foster well-being and relaxation;
All the information on our website is intended to help you understand our products. It does not constitute medical advice and is certainly not a substitute for specialist medical advice. We recommend that you seek the advice of a specialist before consuming any cbd product.
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