The history of Marijuana in the US has been rich. Through the passing of Proposition 215, marijuana has been legalized in California, and the debate about it has brought a renewed interest in the plant known as cannabis sativa from which marijuana is derived. The huge popularity of medicinal marijuana and the growing public acceptance of this plant have helped dismiss the myths surrounding cannabis.
Just a few years ago, marijuana was considered an addictive and dangerous substance. However, research has shown that ancient cultures widely used cannabis for both medicinal and practical purposes. Cannabis has an interesting history both as a medicinal preparation and as a food.
Marijuana’s history goes way back over 10,000 years ago to where it has allegedly originated: in ancient China. Broken pottery reveals imprints of hemp rope dated approximately 10,000 B.C. which are the earliest evidences of the use of this plant. It was widely cultivated and grown in ancient China.
The most ancient New Stone Age culture in China used hemp to make ropes, fishing nets, and clothing. The hemp fibers were taken from the stems of Cannabis plants. The stems were strong, sturdy and flexible enough to be woven into cloth or spun into yarn. They were very durable and sturdy that during the start of the 2nd and 1st century B.C., they were used to make the first paper.
Along with soybeans, wheat, rice, and barley, the seeds of Cannabis sativa were considered one of ancient China’s “five grains”. Marijuana seeds were used or roasted to make meal. The seeds of Cannabis were also cooked as porridge. Up to the 10th century when they were replaced with higher quality grains, these seeds remained a vital staple of the Chinese diet.
Marijuana oil was extracted by crushing the marijuana seeds which the ancient Chinese used for lubrication, lamps, and cooking. The residue from the leftover cannabis was used as feeds for animals.
The ancient Chinese also used marijuana as medicine. The most ancient Chinese pharmacological text discussed how preparations of marijuana helped treat a wider range of conditions including constipation and malaria. Marijuana therapies involved crushing the plant’s roots into a paste for alleviating pain. During the 2nd century, Hua To, a Chinese surgeon was also alleged to use cannabis as anesthesia for surgery.
The earliest psychoactive use of marijuana in China was recorded about 2000 B.C. According to the Materia Medica Sutra, if ingested in excess, the seed of the cannabis plant will enable the person to see ghosts. “It lightens the body and makes one communicate with ghosts if taken over a long-term.” According to the fifth century Chinese doctor, Tao Hung Ching, combined with ginseng cannabis, marijuana produces a hallucinatory effect that allows users to see the future.
The marijuana laws of California are helping to bring back cannabis to its proper place as a medicinally valuable and useful plant.
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