Cannabis Use Throughout History
Cannabis, marijuana, weed, pot, grass, hash, dope. The Cannabis plant and it’s subsequent by-products are known by a variety of names all around the world. Our history is littered with references to this plant and it’s value to us throughout our history.
The earliest records of society using Cannabis can be found as prints on Chinese pots dating back as far as 4,000 B.C. It is believed that during this time hemp, a wild, lesser flowering version of the plant was used in the cloth making, while evidence indicates they may have used the flowering tips and buds to make medicine, as found in writing dating back to 2737 B.C.
Varieties of the Cannabis plant also grew all across India and Asia, with Cannabis used at religious ceremonies. Writing from the area show that cannabis was made into a drink, described as divine and good for all of man’s needs. At certain festivals, Cannabis was offered to the creator and destroyer of mankind, Shiva, who was reportedly partial to the buds and it’s effects.
Reports of Cannabis use can also be found from ancient Greece, where the Roman empire believed in it’s medicinal properties. During this time Cannabis was used for a variety of reasons including, aiding digestion, head and earache, as well as female menstruation problems.
The use of Cannabis to make cookies has also been documented from the time, when guests would be served with a Cannabis cookie to aid digestion and increase the overall feeling of happiness. It is believed that it was the Romans who first brought Cannabis to Britain.
Documents from the Arab world shows us that the use of Cannabis or hashish was already prevalent during the ninth century where it was used as a stimulant. It is widely believed that the word assassin comes from the translation of Hashish user who would kill for money.
As England expanded it’s borders and created colonies abroad, the need for cloth for sailing ships, rope and clothing increased, and they found that Cannabis, in the form of hemp, could supply many of their needs. Large hemp fields were planted to produce the ropes and cloth needed to support the colonies.
Reports also indicate it was used as a tonic to aid good help and it was acknowledged by Queen Victoria’s own personal physician to help in reducing coughs, headaches, asthma and menstrual cramps and pain. It is also reported that George Washington, the first president of the United States of America, was aware of the medical attributes of Cannabis, and had a plant growing in his garden.
Until the 1930’s Cannabis was considered harmless and could be grown and used without restriction. However, all that changed, and due to Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, the USA banned its use and sale, and subsequently set about enforcing it’s negative beliefs regarding Cannabis and marijuana to the rest of the world, many of which followed America’s lead and also banned it’s use and sale.
Recent changes in attitudes and beliefs have forced many States to accept the use of medical marijuana and Cannabis in society, and although still illegal under Federal law, the attitude of many American’s is that it’s prohibition has no place in modern society, especially in light of the racist propaganda that led to it’s ban in the first place.
Great Britain and England rate Cannabis as a Class C drug and as such it’s use and sale is illegal. Unlike many US States, there are no medical grounds for it’s use and possession could result in a criminal conviction and record.
However, it would appear that many of Britain’s police forces are no longer actively seeking and prosecuting Cannabis users for minor possession or growing set-ups as reported recently in the UK Independent.
Although reduced to a Class C drug for a small amount of time during the 1990’s, Cannabis was returned to it’s Class B status and remains so today. With both English and American attitudes changing and challenging their right to it’s use, perhaps one day we will see society return to accepting that Cannabis has both a recreational and medicinal role in a future society.