Ancient History of Cannabis

So how did the global use of cannabis develop? In 2800 BC, when it was included in Emperor Shen Nung’s (regarded as the father of Chinese medicine) pharmacopeia, the first known instance of its use was recorded. Consumers were able to quickly identify the therapeutic advantages of cannabis even in the absence of considerable scientific studies.

The scriptures of the Indian Hindus, the Assyrians, the Greeks, and the Romans all describe the therapeutic applications of marijuana. These publications claimed that cannabis can treat various illnesses, including arthritis, depression, inflammation, pain, anorexia, and asthma.

Ancient Chinese and other Asian cultures used cannabis

The Central and Southeast Asian regions began cannabis Sativa’s history. Cannabis is known by the Chinese term Má, which denotes numbness or anesthesia in ancient writings. According to legend, a Chinese physician from the Han period administered anesthesia during surgery using a mixture of wine and herbal extracts, maybe marijuana.

Researchers discovered that people in ancient China were burying shamans’ graves with burning cannabis seeds circa 750 BC. Researchers discovered that rather than simply gathering pot from the wild, people decorated the graves of the shamans with cannabis chosen by humans depending on THC levels. Researchers concluded that humans had altered the cannabis plant to produce a high THC concentration due to this discovery.

The less psychotropic male cannabis plant components had been eliminated. This suggests that cannabis was being grown even then for its psychotropic effects rather than solely for food or fiber. This enlightens us on what might have marked the beginning of marijuana smoking history.

Indian history of marijuana

It was believed that the Hindu god Shiva consumed marijuana, which gave it a mystical and religious significance. The hemp flower strains has been used for thousands of years in ayurvedic medicine to treat various ailments, including pain, nausea, and anxiety, and to increase appetite, sleep, and muscular relaxation and bliss. Some people even believed the plant might extend life. Indians created a beverage called Bhang circa around 1000 BC that contained milk, marijuana, and other components for anesthetic and anti-phlegmatic purposes.

 Marijuana in ancient Egypt

In the Ebers papyrus, Egyptians described using cannabis as a topical anti-inflammatory around 1500 BC. On Assyrian clay tablets discovered in Egypt, the medical use of cannabis for the treatment of the plague, glaucoma, and inflammation is mentioned.

Marijuana in Classical Greek

The history of marijuana smoking was extensively covered by the ancient Greek historian Herodotus. He explained how Grecians would set up tiny chambers covered in wool blankets after burying a king, slip beneath the blankets, and toss hemp seeds onto hot stones. There was a “fragrant smoke” as a result.

Rome’s use of cannabis

Pliny the Elder, Dioscórides and Galen were among the authors who chronicled the history of cannabis Sativa during the Roman Empire. (Galen was the only person to bring up the ‘getting high’ component of marijuana.)

The books covered the history of using hemp to make ropes and nets and the therapeutic benefits of cannabis. Galen also claims in his book that eating the seeds gave one “a feeling of warmth.”


The following group to use cannabis was a warrior tribe known as the Scythians. Herodotus, a Greek historian who lived around 450 BC, claimed that the tribe utilized cannabis in funeral rites. They would build a tent and place a dish with hot stones on it in the middle of the tent. The Scythians would then enter the tent and hurl marijuana seeds over the hot stones until thick smoke was produced.

His records were once considered speculative, but recent physical discoveries have supported them. In present-day Siberia, Russian archaeologist Rudenko discovered a tomb site from 500 to 300 BC in 1972. A container containing burned cannabis seeds was found there. Despite the fact that the find was made in Siberia, there is evidence that the Scythians traded in China, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe. This may have contributed to the spread of cannabis use across the continents because cannabis was such an integral part of their culture.

The Initial Golden Age of Medical Cannabis

After spending time in India, Irish physician Sir William Brooke O’Shaughnessy learned that cannabis extracts might lessen cholera patients’ stomach pain and vomiting in 1839. Later, cannabis use for medical purposes gained widespread acceptance in the late 19th century.

Empress Elisabeth of Austria used cannabis to treat coughing and increase appetite, and Queen Victoria of the UK used it to treat painful menstrual periods. Apprehensive of medications, Empress Elisabeth preferred cannabis’ all-natural qualities.

In the medical magazine The Lancet, the British physician J. Russell Reynolds compiled findings from more than 30 years of research on cannabis in 1890. But it was still a little challenging to use cannabis medicinally. Because scientists had not yet isolated the psychoactive component THC, cannabis extracts were inconsistent. This took place in 1964.

Reynolds developed the first cannabis tincture to increase consistency. Pharmaceutical firms eventually abandoned cannabis in favor of other sedatives and analgesics like aspirin.

The US’s drug history

Cannabis eventually made its way to the United States after crossing the world. Cannabis in the form of hemp has relatively little THC in it. People don’t get high from it.

The first colonists in America who produced hemp for textiles also grew cannabis. Hemp has been used historically to make rope, paper, sails, and clothes.

American hemp history

The past of hemp reveals that it was formerly farmed without distinction from other crops. Virginia established a rule requiring the cultivation of hemp in all of the colonies in 1619 because it was so crucial to the formation of the US.

The US regarded hemp as a legitimate form of money in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. From 1942 to 1945, hemp was grown on over 400,000 acres of land. In his diary, George Washington reported that he was planting hemp seeds. Until the Civil War, when imports replaced cotton, the output was booming.

Before Mexican immigrants introduced it during the first few decades of the 20th century, smoking marijuana and using it for recreational purposes were uncommon in the United States. As a result, xenophobia against Mexicans developed in the US.

The outlawing of marijuana in the United States was influenced by political, racial, and media portrayals of marijuana users.


Using the earth’s natural remedies to alleviate our physical, emotional, and spiritual ills is a beautiful memory that the history of cannabis beautifully recalls. People did not view using cannabis to treat these conditions as eccentric or “wacky” before the invention of chemical-based medications. It was just the accepted practice in medicine.