History of Marijuana

According to history books, Marijuana is one of the oldest cultivated crips in existence, dating back 12,000 years. Let’s take a look at where it all started, how it’s evolved and where marijuana stands today. First, what is marijuana exactly? Known also known as cannabis, marijuana is a plant and was initally used as an agricultural commodity used to make clothing, rope, oil and paper. It also had medicinal aspects and was valued in the community for its overall versatile contribution. It was additionally, however, used as a recreational drug for its reported euphoric effects and was said to be spiritual.

There are a few different types of cannabis. A commonly used subspecies of cannabis is known as Cannabis sativa, which has psychoactive properties. A familiar subspecies to this is Cannabis sativa L. which is a non-psychoactive type and it is also known as hemp. This non-psychoactive subspecies is the kind of cannabis that usually is used to manufacture products like oil and cloth. Another species known as Cannabis indica is also psychoactive.

Where Did Marijuana Evolve?

Marijuana is deemed to have first been evolved on the steppes of Central Asia. This was particularly in what is now known as Mongolia and southern Siberia. An interesting fact is that there have been burned cannabis seeds discovered in the kurgan burial mounds of Siberia. Apparently all types of marijuana were utilized in ancient China. It was initially used for medicinal purposes in 4000 B.C. Chinese emperor Shen Nung wrote about the drug dating back to 2737 B.C. and this remains the earliest reference to marijuana. He talked about its power on a medicinal level for conditions like rheumatism, gout and malaria (he even went so far as to mention marijuana could be used as medication for absent-mindedness). Its intoxicating aspects were mentioned but the major focus was on its medicinal value.

Coastal farmers brought cannabis from China to Korea in 2000 B.C. Cannabis came to south Asia between 1000 and 2000 B.C. Cannabis was then used regularly in India where Marijuana was mentioned in ancient poetry from that time period. Cannabis was brought into the Middle East between 1400 and 2000 B.C. where it was utilized by the Scythians (they were a nomadic Indo-Eurpoean group). The Scythians then brought marijuana into southeast Russia as well as Ukraine from the Middle East. The drug was then traveled to Germany by the Germanic tribes and from there carried into Britain (this was during the 5th century). Cannabis relocated to a litany of regions over the next few centuries. It traveled through Africa and reached South America in the 19th century. Eventually it made its way into North America.

Marijuana Making Its Way Into The U.S.

After a long and dragged out process of migrating throughout the world, cannabis ended up in the United States at the beginning of the 19th century. Utah was the first state where marijuana became illegal, in 1915. A mere sixteen years later, by 1931, marijuana was illegal in 29 states. The Marijuana Tax Act made the possession of marijuana illegal throughout the country in 1937.

Marijuana Potency Over Time

THC is the main ingredient in marijuana which affects the mind. It is this psychoactive component that has varied to a marked degree in levels between now and when cannabis first came into the picture 12,000 years ago. THc is short for tetrahydrocannabinol. The cannabinoid receptors are in portions of the brain that are connected with thinking, memory, pleasure, time perception and coordination. What THC does is attach itself to these cannabinoid receptors, then activate them which in turn alters a person’s memory, pleasure, their movements, coordination and even their thinking. So while THC is the most responsible part of marijuana’s psychoactive effects, let’s take a thorough look at how it has evolved over the course of its existence in regards to potency level.

Marijuana’s THC levels have drastically increased over time. It seems as though it has the potential, viewing it from this aspect, to get more addictive with each generation. It’s pretty shocking to see the severe uptrend it has taken. In 1978 the national average level of THC was at 1.37%. In 1988 this level increased to 3.59%. By ten years later, in 1998, it had gotten up to 4.43%. Then in 2008 it got to 8.49% THC potency (where in the Netherlands it got to 16%). Fast forward to the present and now the national average level of THC is hard to pinpoint generally. However let’s take Colorado pot, for example. The average THC level in Coloradan marijuana is a startling 18.7%, which poses an enormous contrast to the 1.37% level from the late 70’s. So basically this example shows that pot is around almost sixteen times more potent than it was in the late 70’s. What’s more shocking is how certain strains of marijuana being tested now are being found as high as 37.20%. So as marijuana is getting more and more potent, so is the precise amount of THC hitting the brain with each and every hit a user takes of it. It’s safe to say that, clearly, marijuana has evolved into an increasingly addictive drug over time and is only stable in this trend.

That being said, the war on weed in the United States is still in its continuous battle to legalize it, both the advantages and disadvantages of the drug being pulled in every which direction in order to prove a point. These days it’s probably pretty hard to get the raw facts and statistics in regards to marijuana, of course depending on your source. There is so much propaganda that it has turned into a seriously contradictory subject at this point. The history of cannabis is both long and complex, and as you can see addiction has turned into a real issue. WIth that there are a litany of rehabs specifically designed to get a marijuana user sober. There are a myriad of innovative ways incorporated into these rehab programs in order to prevent relapse and they’ve only become more effective over time.

By Robert O. Newman II, ICDAC, ICPS, CIP