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History of Cannabis

Welcome Spaced Cadets! We have been talking a lot about cannabinoids, and terpenes, and mentioned the biosynthesis of the cannabinoids. This blog will be about the history of cannabis and where it all started! 


Cannabis has dated more than 12,000 years ago from where records were starting to be found. There were notes found from Ancient Assyria referencing a plant/drug that is medicinal cannabis in Cuneiform tablets. Ancient Assyria dates from 2025 BC to the earliest AD 240, as cannabis has been helping way before we were born. 

While in ancient Egypt dating back to 1700 BCE, they called it shemshemet. They used it variously to help with pain and infections. India used it spiritually to try and balance their nervous system. By the 11-12th century, India had published definitive records for medical cannabis. China is the main country that published the first pharmacopeia that included cannabis. It was written in the 1st or 2nd century CE and was called ma. A translation from the Ben Cao Jing on ma (cannabis) was “Governs the five taxations and seven damages, benefits the five viscera, and descends blood and cold qi; excessive consumption causes one to see ghosts and run about frenetically.” 

In Western Europe, they failed to study or acknowledge medicinal cannabis in the Middle Ages. It was not till the 18thcentury that Napoleon Bonaparte and his soldiers popularized recreational cannabis in Western Europe. An Irish physician William Brook O'Shaughnessy brought cannabis to modern Western medicine in 1839. He performed experiments on animals to see if there were harmful side effects and came to the conclusion there were none. O’Shaughnessy was the reason as well for the adoption of cannabis in North America. 

In the United States O’Shaughnessy’s findings were confirmed with additional human trials. Cannabis as Extract of Hemp was published in 1850 in the United States Pharmacopeia and patented hemp tinctures that were for insomnia, pain, and arthritis. In 1906 the United States passed the Food & Drug Act that required correct labeling of cannabis. In 1918 the United States produced 60,000 pounds of domestic cannabis to supply pharmacies. But it all came to a sad end when Cannabis was classified as a Schedule I substance in 1970 with the passing of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).


Cannabis has been around for a long time and was used as we are using it today.  As a form of medicine, or to help with pain and inflammation. Each country had its name for it and used it for different purposes, but all had the same main goal, to help our people feel better.


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