Marijuana, the drug known to law enforcement officials is possibly the oldest psychoactive drug known to human beings. It is the worlds most commonly used controlled substance. About four percent of the entire population of the adult world uses it on an annual basis. Marijuana is the processed form of the plant Cannabis Sativa. Its derivatives are manufactured from the leaves and flowers of the female plant. Modern chemistry has isolated the active compounds in Marijuana, the most important being Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.
Use of Marijuana
Evidence for the use of cannabis has been dated to the third millennium B.C., which was five thousand years ago. Given the distance from the natural origin of the plant, it could have only arrived by distant trade networks. It is used today as a medicine, a pathway to spiritual journey, and as a social dis-inhibitor. It was likely used for all these reasons dating back to before the dawn of civilization.
The cannabis plant is native to India and central Asia, and therefore was probably discovered by early foragers and developed into a social drug by the earliest neolithic settlers. Some of the earliest cultural users were the Hindus. Cannabis was often consumed by inhalation, proven by charred seeds found in earthenware braziers. Pottery fire pits were even found in Romania that pre-dated to 3000 B.C. Since Romania is far from Asia, being an inappropriate place to grow the tropical plant, it could have only arrived by trade. Proving that marijuana was an important cultural commodity.
The plants common use in the West is proven by the activities of the Assyrians and the Thracians, who had a direct trade route with Asia. They used it for religious ceremonies through rituals, and may have recreationally practiced it as well. Evidence for cannabis uses spread to Europe through the Mediterranean, by the cult of Dionysus. The ancient Jews referred it is as qannabos, which is thought the modern word is derived from.
The Chinese and Cannabis
Cannabis was certainly used by the Chinese, as its natural presence extends into that part of Asia. Their main uses for the plant was mainly for religious and medicinal practices. They were famous for their ancient herbal and medicinal practices, and even had a special interest for its psychedelic effects. Modern Chinese herbalists still consider cannabis to be apart of their medicinal heritage.
Cannabis continued to be traded to Europe through the middle ages via land route. Soon merchants began exploiting the seas as soon as the age of exploration began. William Shakespeare is suspected of having consumed marijuana, attesting to its commonality even before globalization. The availability of the drug increased with European sea trade, and it has always been an easy and profitable cargo.
Marijuana was banned in the modern world in the twentieth century. Beginning in the United States when which was then followed by the British Empire. The United States passed a sweeping restriction in 1937, when the Marijuana Transfer Tax Act was passed. This ruling did not so much as tax the crop but ban it completely. Corporations used marijuana as an excuse to have all variety of cannabis banned, including hemp, in order to eliminate the competition.
Marijuana is not as dangerous or addictive as other forms of drugs, and some scientists report tobacco as being more harmful than vaporized or chewed cannabis. The drug is still psychoactive and can impair judgement. Law enforcement handouts in the 1930s greatly exaggerated the potential behavioral harm, linking dope with madness, murder, and sexual immorality. There is some link between the drug and schizophrenic disorders, and harmful behavior is possible, but cannabis has long been touted by enthusiasts as the “safe high.”
It’s been noted that cannabis extracts had been used by spies and the military during world war II as a truth serum. Because the drug reduces inhibition, recipients are more liberal with information, and information that occurs frequently in the mind but not blurted out becomes ready conversation. Gangster Augusto Del Gracio was given a cigarette containing THC, and this chemical inspiration allowed him to talk about Lucky Luciano’s heroine business.
Cannabis today is grown extensively in the United States. Taking full advantage of greenhouse methods such as hydroponics, artificial lighting, and selective breeding. Much of it is still imported, with the retail price in the United States being about $150 to as high as $450 for a single ounce. The total market value of cannabis in the US alone is estimated to be about 36 billion dollars. With more states and countries changing their views on the plant, it’s projecting to be the worlds next economical boom.