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A Long Long Time Ago… People Smoked Cannabis

The history of marijuana runs parallel to the history of mankind. Historians have claimed that even the cavemen could recognize cannabis leaves quite easily. While some people disagree with this bold claim, what is certain is that hemp was cultivated by humans 10.000 years ago on the island of Taiwan: there is enough archeological evidence to call this a fact! Hemp has been appreciated for centuries in Asia, where it is used for the most different ritual, medical and practical purposes. We also know cannabis cultivation became common by the time the calendar turned to year 5.000 b.C.

The power of marijuana is openly discussed in a Chinese medical book written in the year 2737 b.C. Many ancient Greek texts mention the plant too and, although they preferred wine, ancient Greeks were quite aware of the recreational possibilities cannabis can offer – we know they met societies where marijuana was used and appreciated.

Marijuana was introduced in Europe a long time ago, at least 2.500 years ago. How do we know that? Well, historians found in Berlin at 2.500 years old urn that contained cannabis seeds. Convincing enough, wouldn’t you agree? Europeans used hemp in different ways: to produce clothes, paper, fertilizer… and they also knew about its recreational qualities.

And what about Africa? Let’s just say that the passion for hemp there is so old we don’t even know when it started. Cannabis has been used by African people as a medical, ritual and recreational herb, and it is still used to produce clothes and much more.

In the USA, the country that started the demonizing campaign against our favorite plant, marijuana was exceptionally popular in the 18th century. Most of the land owned by George Washington was used to grow hemp! There is no way around it: up until the conception of the Marijuana Tax Act (1937) – and indeed throughout World War I – hemp was one of the most important resources for farmers and other workers in Asia, Europe, Africa and America. It is an amazingly versatile plant, and it can be grown everywhere.

You can band the wonderful marijuana, you can criminalize it, call it “stinky” and make it illegal… but you can’t erase a connection based on centuries of history.

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