CANNABIS IN HUMAN HISTORY
Supporting the Legal Community That Supports Wise and Ethical Cannabis Law
Arizona Cannabis Bar Association
8,000+ BCE Use of hemp cord in pottery identified at ancient village site dating back over 10,000 years, located in the area of modern day Taiwan. Finding hemp use and cultivation in this date range puts it as one of the first and oldest known human agriculture crops. As explained by Richard Hamilton in the 2009 Scientific American article on sustainable agriculture "Modern humans emerged some 250,000 years ago, yet agriculture is a fairly recent invention, only about 10,000 years old ... Agriculture is not natural; it is a human invention. It is also the basis of modern civilization." This point was also touched on by Carl Sagan in 1977 when he proposed the possibility that marijuana may have actually been world's first agricultural crop, leading to the development of civilization itself (see 1977, below).
6,000 BCE Cannabis seeds and oil used for food in China.
4,000 BCE Textiles made of hemp are used in China and Turkestan.
2,737 BCE First recorded use of cannabis as medicine by Emperor Shen Neng of China.
2,000-800 BCE Bhang (dried cannabis leaves, seeds and stems) is mentioned in the Hindu sacred text Atharvaveda (Science of Charms) as "Sacred Grass", one of the five sacred plants of India. It is used by medicinally and ritually as an offering to Shiva.
1,500 BCE Cannabis cultivated in China for food and fiber. Scythians cultivate cannabis and use it to weave fine hemp cloth.
700-600 BCE The Zoroastrian Zendavesta, an ancient Persian religious text of several hundred volumes refers to bhang as the "good narcotic."
600 BCE Hemp rope appears in southern Russia.
700-300 BCE Scythian tribes leave Cannabis seeds as offerings in royal tombs.
500 BCE Scythian couple die and are buried with two small tents covering containers for burning incense. Attached to one tent stick was a decorated leather pouch containing wild Cannabis seeds. This closely matches the stories told by Herodotus. The gravesite, discovered in the late 1940s, was in Pazryk, northwest of the Tien Shan Mountains in modern-day Khazakstan. Hemp is introduced into Northern Europe by the Scythians. An urn containing leaves and seeds of the Cannabis plant, unearthed near Berlin, is found and dated to about this time. Use of hemp products spread throughout northern Europe.
430 BCE Herodotus reports on both ritual and recreation use of Cannabis by the Scythians (Herodotus The Histories 430 B.C. trans. G. Rawlinson).
200 BCE Hemp rope appears in Greece. Chinese Book of Rites mentions hemp fabric.
100 BCE First evidence of hemp paper, invented in China.
100-0 BCE The psychotropic properties of Cannabis are mentioned in the newly compiled herbal Pen Ts'ao Ching.
0-100 CE Construction of Samaritan gold and glass paste stash box for storing hashish, coriander, or salt, buried in Siberian tomb.
23-79 Pliny the Elder's The Natural History mentions hemp rope and marijuana's analgesic effects.
47-127 Plutarch mentions Thracians using cannabis as an intoxicant.
70 Dioscorides, a physician in Nero's army, lists medical marijuana in his Pharmacopoeia.
100 Imported hemp rope appears in England.
105 Legend suggests that Ts'ai Lun invents hemp paper in China, 200 years after its actual appearance (see 100 BCE above).
130-200 Greek physician Galen prescribes medical marijuana.
200 First pharmacopoeia of the East lists medical marijuana. Chinese surgeon Hua T'o uses marijuana as an anesthetic.
570 The French queen Arnegunde is buried with hemp cloth.
500-600 The Jewish Talmud mentions the euphoriant properties of Cannabis.
850 Vikings take hemp rope and seeds to Iceland.
900 Arabs learn techniques for making hemp paper.
900-1000 Scholars debate the pros and cons of eating hashish. Use spreads throughout Arabia.
1000 Hemp ropes appear on Italian ships. Arabic physician Ibn Wahshiyah's On Poisons warns of marijuana's potential dangers.
1090-1124 In Khorasan, Persia, Hasan ibn al-Sabbah, recruits followers to commit assassinations...legends develop around their supposed use of
hashish. These legends are some of the earliest written tales of the discovery of the inebriating powers of Cannabis and the use of Hashish by a paramilitary organization as a hypnotic (see U.S. military use, 1942 below). Early 12th Century Hashish smoking becomes very popular throughout the Middle East.
1155-1221 Persian legend of the Sufi master Sheik Haydar's personal discovery of Cannabis and his own alleged invention of hashish with it's subsequent spread to Iraq, Bahrain, Egypt and Syria. Another of the ealiest written narratives of the use of Cannabis as an inebriant.
1171-1341 During the Ayyubid dynasty of Egypt, Cannabis is introduced by mystic devotees from Syria.
1200 1,001 Nights, an Arabian collection of tales, describes hashish's intoxicating and aphrodisiac properties.
13th Century The oldest monograph on hashish, Zahr al-'arish fi tahrim al-hashish, was written. It has since been lost. Ibn al-Baytar of Spain provides a description of the psychoactive nature of Cannabis. Arab traders bring Cannabis to the Mozambique coast of Africa.
1271-1295 Journeys of Marco Polo in which he gives second-hand reports of the story of Hasan ibn al-Sabbah and his "assassins" using hashish. First time reports of Cannabis have been brought to the attention of Europe.
1300 Ethiopian pipes containing marijuana suggest the herb has spread from Egypt to the rest of Africa.
1378 Ottoman Emir Soudoun Scheikhouni issues one of the first edicts against the eating of hashish.
1526 Babur Nama, first emperor and founder of Mughal Empire learned of hashish in Afghanistan.
1532 French physician Rabelais's gargantua and Pantagruel mentions marijuana's medicinal effects.
1533 King Henry VIII fines farmers if they do not raise hemp for industrial use.
1549 Angolan slaves brought cannabis with them to the sugar plantations of northeastern Brazil. They were permitted to plant their cannabis between rows of cane, and to smoke it between harvests.
c. 1550 The epic poem, Benk u Bode, by the poet Mohammed Ebn Soleiman Foruli of Baghdad, deals allegorically with a dialectical battle between wine and hashish.
1563 Portuguese physician Garcia da Orta reports on marijuana's medicinal effects.
1578 China's Li Shih-Chen writes of the antibiotic and antiemetic effects of marijuana.
1600 England begins to import hemp from Russia.
1606-1632 French and British cultivate Cannabis for hemp at their colonies in Port Royal (1606), Virginia (1611), and Plymouth (1632).
1616 Jamestown settlers began growing the hemp plant for its unusually strong fiber and used it to make rope, sails, and clothing.
1621 Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy suggests marijuana may treat depression.
1600-1700 Use of hashish, alcohol, and opium spreads among the population of occupied Constantinople. Hashish becomes a major trade item between Central Asia and South Asia.
1753 Linnaeus classifies Cannabis sativa.
1764 Medical marijuana appears in The New England Dispensatory.
1776 Kentucky begins growing hemp.
1794 Medical marijuana appears in The Edinburgh New Dispensary.
1798 Napoleon discovers that much of the Egyptian lower class habitually uses hashish. Soldiers returning to France bring the tradition with them, and he declares a total prohibition.
1800- Marijuana plantations flourished in Mississippi, Georgia, California, South Carolina, Nebraska, New York, and Kentucky. Also during this period, smoking hashish was popular throughout France and to a lesser degree in the US. Hashish production expands from Russian Turkestan into Yarkand in Chinese Turkestan.
1809 Antoine Sylvestre de Sacy, a leading Arabist, suggests a base etymology between the words "assassin" and "hashishin" -- subsequent linguest study disproves his theory.
1840 In America, medicinal preparations with a Cannabis base are available. Hashish is available in Persian pharmacies.
1842 Irish physician O'Shaughnessy publishes cannabis research in English medical journals.
1843 French author Gautier publishes The Hashish Club.
1846 French physician Moreau publishes Hashish and Mental Illness
1850 Cannabis is added to The U.S. Pharmacopoeia.
1850-1915 Marijuana was widely used throughout United States as a medicinal drug and could easily be purchased in pharmacies and general stores.
1854 Whittier writes the first American work to mention cannabis as an intoxicant.
1856 British tax "ganja" and "charas" trade in India.
1857 American writer Ludlow publishes The Hasheesh Eater.
1858 French poet Baudelaire publishes On the Artificial Ideal.
1870-1880 First reports of hashish smoking on the Greek mainland.
1890 Greek Department of Interior prohibits importance, cultivation and use of hashish. Hashish is made illegal in Turkey. Sir J.R. Reynolds, chief physician to Queen Victoria, prescribes medical marijuana to her.
1893-1894 The India Hemp Drugs Commission Report is issued. 70,000 to 80,000 kg per year of hashish is legally imported into India from Central Asia.
1906 In the U.S. the Pure Food and Drug Act is passed, regulating the labeling of products containing Alcohol, Opiates, Cocaine, and Cannabis, among others.
Early 20th Century Hashish smoking remains very popular throughout the Middle East.
1910 The Mexican Revolution caused an influx of Mexican immigrants who introduced the habit of recreational use (instead of it's generally medicinal use) into American society.
1914 The Harrison Act in the U.S. defined use of Marijuana (among other drugs) as a crime.
1916 United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) chief scientists Jason L. Merrill and Lyster H. Dewey created paper made from hemp pulp, which they concluded was "favorable in comparison with those used with pulp wood" in USDA Bulletin No. 404. From the book "The Emperor Wears No Clothes" by Jack Herer the USDA Bulletin N. 404 reported that one acre of hemp, in annual rotation over a 20-year period, would produce as much pulp for paper as 4.1 acres (17,000 m2) of trees being cut down over the same 20-year period. This process would use only 1/7 to 1/4 as much polluting sulfur-based acid chemicals to break down the glue-like lignin that binds the fibers of the pulp, or even none at all using soda ash. The problem of dioxin contamination of rivers is avoided in the hemp paper making process, which does not need to use chlorine bleach (as the wood pulp paper making process requires) but instead safely substitutes hydrogen peroxide in the bleaching process. ... If the new (1916) hemp pulp paper process were legal today, it would soon replace about 70% of all wood pulp paper, including computer printout paper, corrugated boxes and paper bags. However, mass production of cheap news print from hemp had not developed in any country, and hemp was a relatively easy target because factories already had made large investments in equipment to handle cotton, wool, and linen, but there were relatively small investments in hemp production.
1915-1927 In the U.S. cannabis begins to be prohibited for nonmedical use. Prohibition first begins in California (1915), followed by Texas (1919), Louisiana (1924), and New York (1927).
1919 The 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution banned the manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcohol and positioned marijuana as an attractive alternative leading to an increase in use of the substance.
1920s Greek dictator Ioannis Metaxas cracks down on hashish smoking. Hashish smuggled into Egypt from Greece, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, and Central Asia.
1924 Russian botanists classify another major strain of the plant, Cannabis ruderalis.
1926 Lebanese hashish production is prohibited.
1928 Recreational use of Cannabis is banned in Britain.
1930 The Yarkand region of Chinese Turkestan exports 91,471 kg of hashish legally into the Northwest Frontier and Punjab regions of India. Legal taxed imports of hashish continue into India from Central Asia.
1933 The U.S. congress repealed the 21st Amendment, ending alcohol prohibition; 4 years later the prohibition of marijuana will be in full effect.
1934-1935 Chinese government moves to end all Cannabis cultivation in Yarkand and charas traffic from Yarkand. Hashish production become illegal in Chinese Turkestan.
1936 The American propaganda film Reefer Madness was made to scare American youth away from using Cannabis.
1970 Passage of the Controlled Substances Act