How Long Have Humans Used Marijuana?

Letting our mind wander while high on cannabis is one of our favorite pastimes at Greeley Gallery. It’s fun to let our imagination run wild with creativity, and often, curiosity. Moments like these make us wonder things we’re usually too distracted to think about, such as, where does marijuana come from?

The plant has a long history, including plenty of controversy surrounding it, but when and where did it all begin? How far back does our relationship with cannabis go? We at Greeley Gallery North Portland marijuana dispensary wanted to find out. Now we’re sharing what we learned with you.

How Long Have Humans Used Cannabis

So far, experts believe the cannabis plant originated on the eastern Tibetan Plateau around 28 million years ago. The nickname “weed” is attributed to its ability to grow practically anywhere and, as such, it spread throughout Asia. But when did humans become interested in the plant, and where did its domestication begin?

Every few years, botanists find new evidence pushing back the origin of the cannabis-human relationship. But they all agree that humans have used the cannabis plant for various purposes for thousands of years.

The most recent discovery states ancient humans started domesticating the cannabis plant during the Neolithic period, around 12,000 years ago. The study, published July of 2021 in Science Advances, analyzed the genetic sequencing of 110 samples of cannabis sativa seeds or leaves worldwide. The results showed the plant was a multi-purpose crop, probably used for fiber, oil, and medicine about 12,000 years ago in East Asia.

When was Cannabis Used for Psychoactive Uses?

However at this point, scientists believe farmers didn’t begin cultivating marijuana for mind-altering reasons until between 4,000 and 2,500 years ago. Currently, a 2019 study provides the strongest evidence of cannabis used for ceremonial purposes related to death during 500 B.C.E. at the Jirzankal Cemetery nestled in the 3,000 meters (almost 10,000 feet) high Pamir Mountains in western China.

There’s a strong connection between the spread of cannabis throughout the world and the ancient Silk Road, too. The Silk Road was an ancient network of routes connecting the Far East to China, including Europe and the Middle East. Here people traded everything from spices and textiles to ideas, and likely, cannabis, among other drugs and medicines.

It should be noted that most wild and domesticated cannabis plants contained little to no tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound responsible for getting high. But researchers from the 2016 study believe higher levels were in the plants growing in high altitudes, like around the cemetery.

Final Thoughts

Despite the controversy surrounding cannabis legalization, it’s clear there’s a strong relationship between humans and the plant. With countless uses and benefits, it’s easy to understand why. Our ancient ancestors used the cannabis plant for plenty of daily needs, such as creating clothing and rope to oils and medicine. They also used it to, presumably, mourn their dead and many other ceremonial purposes.

The world looks very different than it did thousands of years ago. Societies grew and expanded, technology and innovation blew up. We built cities and put humans on the moon, yet cannabis use has remained. Remember this the next time you partake in Greeley Gallery’s high-quality cannabis products. We can smoke marijuana and know that someone did the same thing thousands of years ago.

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