Cannabis History: Historical Development of Cannabis Herb



Cannabis has been among the plants used by agricultural societies throughout history. Factors such as its use in the ventilation of the soil, use for medical purposes, and its influence in clothing production has played an important role in cannabis production. So, what is cannabis and how did the historical development of cannabis come about? Here is some information on that subject.

Cannabis is a plant that was grown locally around 8000 BC. Cannabis first was grown for fiber and food in Mesopotamia (now Turkey). Around 6500 BCE in Central Asia, China began growing cannabis as a crop and was later used in medicine. It was used for fabric, rope, medicine, and food in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia in 2700 BC. Cannabis was introduced to Europe 400 years later. The oldest surviving piece of paper is a Chinese cannabis parchment.



From 1000 BC to the nineteenth century, cannabis was the world’s largest agricultural product and was also used for paper and lamp oil. During this period, many well-known books including Wonderland and Alice were printed on hemp paper. The first crop in North America was planted by a French botanist in Nova Scotia in 1606. Two centuries later, the United States and Canada halted Cannabis cultivation with the Cannabis Tax Act in 1937 (which put a dollar per ounce on each cannabis producer that was later removed during the World War II effort).

There is an Uyghur story called “Prince Kalyanamkara Papamkara”. In this story, there is a very clear statement about cannabis. “He spins wool, spinning cannabis, knitting cloth, weaving in half, and the other masters are processing their own artworks and laboring and taking a lot of trouble”. As can be seen from this example, cannabis was used in weaving clothes of Uyghur Turks.

The Brief History of Cannabis


Cannabis originated from a wide area stretching from the Caspian and Himalayas to China and Siberia. Cannabis is probably one of the oldest cultivars without a food source. It is the only fiber used by the first inhabitants of North, North-east China and East Siberia. This plant was probably cultivated in China, at least 4500 years ago, and records of its use of fibers date back to the Neolithic times. Historical records show that cannabis reached western Asia and Egypt 1000-2000 years ago; It was taken to Europe by the Scythians 1500 years ago; shows that it later settled on the Mediterranean coasts. There are also records showing that hemp fibers from 700-800 years ago were found in Anatolia. Hemp has been an important fiber plant in Europe since 500 AD, reaching the USA in 1632.

Although the narcotic properties of cannabis were known in India about 1000 years before Christ, it was also recognized around the Mediterranean during Roman civilization. The Cannabis genus is regarded as monotypic, although species other than Cannabis sativa have been included, and no clear intraspecies classification (subspecies or variety distinction) has been identified. Cannabis is a foreign fertilized plant and is derived directly from an “open-pollinated wild ancestor”. Today, there is no record of the existence of a truly wild cannabis population anywhere in the world, and it probably does not exist in such a population. There is a mutual exchange of characters between wild forms and cultural forms, which are derived from the cultural areas illegally and have started to grow like weeds.



The root system of cannabis consists of the main taproot and secondary and lateral roots that emerge from it. The taproots can reach up to 4 m depth under suitable moisture and soil conditions. The root system has spread in the form of a net starting from 15-20 cm below the soil. Hemp stalks have a hard, herbaceous structure and the white wood part is surrounded by a green shell. Depending on the environment and the variety in which it grows, its diameter can vary between 4-20 mm and its length between 1-16 meters. The length is longer in males than females. Cannabis stalks, which are juicy in the first development period, become woody as they age. The cross-section of the stem is round in the hypocotyl part, four on top of it, and six-cornered at the top. In fact, each of the 4 corners creates three protrusions, resulting in a 12-cornered shape on the upper parts of the stem and a grooved appearance of the plant stem. The stem, which is full of wood at the bottom, becomes filled with essence as it goes upwards and finally becomes an empty middle.

Cannabis fruit is a greenish-brown nutty. The seed in the walnut is endospermic and the embryo is curled in the fruit. Since it contains a single seed and its shell is hard and unopenable, the walnut is used as a seed in the cultivation of cannabis and is practically called cannabis seed. Its length is 4.0-6.0 mm; 1000 seed weight of cannabis seeds with a width of 3.0-3.5 mm varies between 12-30 g. The variation limits that are more common in other countries are 14-22 g. The seed contains 30-35% oil, 22-23% protein, and around 21% carbohydrate.



Cannabis plants require a growing period of 4 months for fiber production and 5 months for seed. Cannabis, which is resistant to light frosts, gives a good fiber product, especially in rainy and humid areas. In places with insufficient rainfall, fiber production is possible by irrigation. For fiber production, a temperate climate and an even distribution of rainfall throughout the season is required. High temperatures and drought accelerate the maturation of cannabis, leading to a decrease in fiber yield and quality. Cannabis is usually harvested at the end of a 4-5 month growing period, when it reaches flowering or when its seeds ripen. Due to the fact that cannabis is dichotomous and the male and female plants mature at different times, some difficulties arise in determining the harvest time. Although male plants mature 5-10 days after they pour their flower powders for fiber production (a dust cloud is seen when male plants are shaken in this period); It is necessary to wait another 4-5 weeks for the seeds to emerge in female plants.

Its seeds (botanically a fruit) are used to extract hemp oil, which is widely used in making mild soaps, with 30-35% oil content. Hemp seeds are also eaten as snacks; They are also used as bird food. Although hemp seed meal is used in animal nutrition, it has a medium quality because it also contains shell residues. Cannabis systematically has the following varieties; Cannabis sativa var. Vulgaris L (Cultured cannabis), Cannabis sativa var. Indica Lam, Cannabis sativa Gigantica (Giant hemp), Cannabis sativa var Ruderalis (Wild hemp). The cultured cannabis plant has a diploid structure and 20 chromosomes.

Cannabis Was Being Used 10,000 Years Ago in Asia and Europe


Around 11,5000 to 10,200 years ago, the stone-age people in Eastern Europe and Japan began using cannabis, independent from each other. Other research on cannabis use in history shows a link between the ascent of intercontinental commerce in that Age around 5,000 years ago and the increase in cannabis consumption in East Asia. The Yamnaya people who lived in Eurasia, believed to be one of the four ancestral lineages of the European, began to spread eastward during this period 5,000 years ago.



These people are also thought to spread hemp, and perhaps its psychoactive properties, throughout Eurasia. The cannabis plant has been unearthed in archaeological excavations in Eurasia for years. Professors from the Berlin University in Germany gathered information from these archaeological excavations in a database to reveal the cannabis consumption tendencies in prehistoric ages. Researchers say it is mostly thought that cannabis was used primarily in China or Mesopotamia and likely domesticated, but the data gathered also indicates an alternative option.

“The hemp plant appears to have spread across wide geography from 10 thousand years ago, perhaps even before that,” says Long. Researchers propose that several different cultures in the Eurasian regions began using this plant independently of each other, either for its psychoactive effects, or as a source of medicine or nutrition, and even to make fabrics from its fibers.

Cannabis Use Increased During the Bronze Age


But in the western parts of Eurasia alone, cannabis has been regularly used by humans for millennia, according to Tarasov and Long’s database. Long says early evidence for the consumption of cannabis in East Asia is rather scattered. This situation appears to have altered about 5 thousand years ago, at the beginning of the Bronze Age. During this period, cannabis use in those regions became more intense. Long and Tarasov say the timing of this increase makes sense. By this time the nomadic shepherds in the Eurasian regions had specialized in horse riding. This allowed them to travel for longer and begin building commerce networks along paths that would be the Silk Road a few hundred years later. This Bronze Age Trade Route likely enabled the spread of a thousand and one types of commodities, including hemp, between east and west.

“We need more data to test this hypothesis,” adds Long, but the extreme value of hemp will also make it a really good barter product during this period. Other evidence suggests that people and products were being transported at the dawn of the Bronze Age. For example, Long says that wheat products started to be seen in China 5 thousand years ago.



“Because cannabis can be used in several ways, we cannot be sure whether its expansion in the Bronze Age was particularly due to its drug properties,” say experts. But there is also evidence to think that psychoactive traits are also a factor. According to some researchers, the burnt cannabis seeds which are found in archaeological excavations may indicate that those people and their culture spread the action of ​​cannabis smoking throughout Eurasia.

“The spread of cannabis use because of its psychoactive properties seems to be associated with outward movements from the steppes. Cannabis may be for specific events like rites, ”he says and adds: “As we know from ancient Greek historians, the Scythians, nomadic herders living in the steppes after the Yamna, also used cannabis. It is mentioned that the historian Herodotus told about his memories of smoking cannabis together with the Scythian people in the Crimean peninsula ”. “I think cannabis has an untold story in Europe starting with the Bronze Age to the Renaissance,” Warf says, saying the new studies are very interesting.

Cannabis: The Oldest Raw Material in the History of Mankind


Cannabis, which has more than 25 thousand uses today, is known as one of the oldest plants used as a raw material. Among the areas where cannabis is most commonly used are food, beverage, cosmetics, personal care, food supplement, medicine, fabric, paper, and building materials. Stating that the reason for the banning of cannabis is the use of the THC substance found in female cannabis, experts underline that when trying to take advantage of the benefits of the cannabis plant, measures should be taken against its abuse.



Although cannabis is one of the oldest plants used as a raw material in human history, it is known that it has over 25 thousand uses today. In particular, the diversity of uses of hemp oil and fibers and the need for alternative sources in the market make hemp popular and economically valuable. Food, beverage, cosmetics, personal care, food supplement, medicine, fabric, paper, building material are among the most common areas of use of hemp. In addition, its seeds are used in making fuel, food, soap, and paint. Cannabis has many uses and benefits in many areas. The main ones are, one decare of hemp is a very rich plant in cellulose, which can provide pulp equivalent to 4 decares of wood. In addition, when compared in terms of the amount of oxygen it produces, the 1-acre of hemp corresponds to the oxygen production amount of a 25-decare forest. It helps protect forests as it is more suitable for papermaking than trees.

Cannabis is an annual plant belonging to the Cannabaceae family. There are three types of it, Cannabis sativa, cannabis Indica, and cannabis Rudelasis. Cannabis sativa is the most widely known type. The type of cannabis used in cannabis production is cannabis Indica. The plant is a female, sexual plant. There are two basic chemicals in the cannabis plant called THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (Cannabidiol). THC is a psychoactive substance and is used as a drug. In contrast, CBD is a non-psychoactive substance that can be used medically. While the content of cannabis used as a drug has THC in the range of 5% to 20%, this rate is legally below 0.3% in industrial cannabis. So they cannot be used for drug purposes. From this point of view, the controlled production of cannabis may not have direct harm. However, it is thought that the increasing and widespread hemp production may pose an indirect risk, as it will make it difficult to identify people engaged in illegal production.



China is the largest producer and exporter of hemp in the paper and fabric industry and continues to grow in this field. Canada leads the way in cannabis seed products and shows faster growth than China. The use of cannabis in Europe is more prominent in industrial areas such as automobiles and construction. Russia, England, Germany, France, Denmark, Austria, Romania, Poland, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Ukraine, and Hungary are known countries for hemp production. As America has changed its attitude towards cannabis from time to time in different political periods, it lags behind countries such as Canada and China in this field, but in recent years, it has started to invest and support cannabis research and production throughout the country. From this point of view, it is seen that many states are in practice for the legal production of cannabis.

One of the main reasons why cannabis is banned is that THC (tetra-hydro-cannabinol), which is concentrated in the upper part of female cannabis, is used as a pleasurable and addictive substance. There are more than 461 different chemical components in the cannabis plant. There are false beliefs among the people that natural substances do not cause addiction. However, this is not true. According to research, cannabis use appears to cause both physical and psychological addiction. In a study, 35% of people using cannabis were unable to quit although they wanted it, 24% continued to use it even though it harmed, ‘had difficulty controlling their use, and 20% described withdrawal symptoms such as extreme restlessness and tension when not using it. For this reason, while trying to benefit from the benefits of the plant, it would be appropriate to consider the risk of addiction due to misuse and abuse and to take precautions accordingly.

The History of Cannabis Ban


Agricultural policies in the world have fallen under the captivity of capitalist monopolies. The seed is in their patented private property; The profit logic of monopoly capitalists determines what, how, how much, where, who will sow, or whether any seeds will be sown. A product that does not work for them can be banned by planning in various scenarios and being avenged. For example, what comes to mind first when you say cannabis? Marijuana! So, is cannabis, which has been banned in the world for years, consists only of marijuana? Or is it really banned by capitalist monopolies because it contains marijuana? Moreover, given that the same capitalist rulers belong to the team that has ruled and directed the global drug network since the past, it is better understood how the prohibition is fraudulent. Now, to the contradiction that the production made according to the capitalist understanding of profit has revealed in hemp; Let’s take a look at the history of cannabis, its uses, why it is banned, and why it is on the agenda for re-breeding today.



Cannabis grows up to about 4 or 5 meters, with leaves scattered like the fingers of a hand; It is one of the oldest one-year woody plants that humanity has cultivated for thousands of years. Various findings obtained from this Asian plant show that it has a history of 10 thousand years of domestication. Marijuana that is derived from cannabis has been used in the treatment of various psychological and physiological diseases for thousands of years. Although its aphrodisiac and intoxicating properties are mentioned in Hindi and Persian texts that are written in the history, in the stories in the Tales of 1001 Nights, it is mentioned that cannabis has a relaxing effect. One of the five sacred herbs that Asian communities offered to the gods on some holy days was hemp.

Since ancient civilizations such as Rome, Egypt, and China, medicine, paper, food, and fabric were made from hemp. Hemp seeds and the oil obtained from these seeds were an important food source. At that time, books, declarations, and edicts were written on paper made from hemp fiber. At the same time from the fibers; Products such as clothes, ropes, tents, and sailcloths were produced. Sailing ships, for example, needed strong sailcloth and ropes made from hemp fibers to make trans-ocean voyages. Since the past centuries, famous painters such as Van Gogh, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Rembrandt have drawn their paintings on canvas made from hemp fibers. As a strong, shiny fiber, hemp has been a reliable archiving tool because it is resistant to heat, moisture, and light.

Although it has a variety of intermediate forms, cannabis is generally known for cannabis Indica and cannabis Sativa. Cannabis indica is broadleaf and is shorter in length than cannabis Sativa. It is also known as “female hemp” colloquially. Marijuana is mainly obtained from the buds of Cannabis Indica in the upper part of the unfertilized female. There are 460 chemical substances detected in cannabis. More than 60 of them are grouped under the name of cannabinoids. The main active ingredients of cannabis are CBD (Cannabidiol) and THC (Tetra Hydro Cannabinol) cannabinoids.



Although CBD is not a psychoactive substance like THC, both are used in different fields of medical science or in the treatment of various diseases in a mixture. A type of cannabinoid, THC is an analgesic (pain reliever) effective and relaxes nerves when mixed with blood. Studies show that THC and CBD are used in AIDS, cancer treatment to reduce the effect of chemotherapy and radiation and to prevent nausea and vomiting during treatment. Studies show that cannabinoids are used or can be used in at least 250 diseases such as rheumatism, heart, epilepsy, asthma, stomach, insomnia, psychology, spine disorders.

Cannabis sativa has fine leaves and is longer than cannabis Indica. Cannabis indica contains between 6 percent and 20 percent THC in its structure, while cannabis Sativa, known as industrial hemp, contains only less than 0.3 percent THC. So the THC ratio is very low. While hemp cultivation was banned all over the world in 1937, the reason for these prohibitions was the THC substance found in cannabis. However, the prohibitions were also valid for cannabis Sativa, a type of cannabis used in the industry. Before moving on to the reason for this prohibition, which is our main subject, let’s explain what can be obtained from cannabis in general.

According to some sources, more than 25,000 products can be made from hemp. We mentioned that it was used to make paper, oil, fabric, and rope in ancient times. While hemp can also be produced from plastics, plastic alloys, asphalt, paint, varnish, cleaning, construction and cosmetic materials, natural heat and sound insulation systems, biodiesel fuel is obtained from its seeds. As is known, biodiesel can be used as fuel for motor vehicles. In 1941, Henry Ford even produced a car that runs on biodiesel derived from hemp, with a hood made of hemp fiber. At that time, in footage taken on a film camera, the hood of the car is hit with a hammer and it is tested how the hood is solid. As a result of the test, it is seen that there is no breaking or bending in the bodywork.

Why Cannabis Is Banned?


In 1619, not growing cannabis in Virginia and other parts of the Americas was a crime to the exploitative rulers, and farmers who did not grow it were sentenced to prison. A similar practice continued in the 18th century USA. “Cannabis is the wealth of the country and it is essential to protect and cultivate it,” said Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the USA. In the USA and other European countries, 80 percent of all coarse cloth textiles were made from hemp fiber until the end of the 19th century. In the 1840s, when the paper made of wood pulp started to enter the market, the proportion of paper made from hemp started to gradually decrease. Despite this, most of the books, maps, paper money, stocks, and bonds produced until 1883, and almost 90 percent of the world’s newspapers continued to be made of hemp fiber. Before the 1870s, after whale oils, hemp seed oil was used mostly for illumination in the world.



The first smear campaign against cannabis started in the 1900s. In those years, cannabis was shown in the newspapers of the US media mogul William Randolph Hearst, and according to these newspapers, cannabis was “very dangerous”. Moreover, the rate of cannabis and drugs increased due to the presence of blacks and immigrants, and the situation was turned into racist propaganda. With the effect of existing Jim Crow laws, blacks were declared a crime machine in Hearst’s newspapers. In 1914, for the first time, hemp cultivation was banned for a short time in the US state of California on the grounds that it contains drugs. In the 1920s, a new word of Mexican origin called “Marijuana” was introduced in the newspapers, and “marijuana” was gradually made synonymous with the name cannabis.

Hysterical headlines were thrown in the headlines, and news of how the “marijuana” plant drove people crazy was served. For example, sensational and asparagus stories were produced such as people who died screaming, blacks using “marijuana” and “Mexicans who murder people and rape white women”. Given that Hearst’s newspapers reached 20 million daily readers in 1930, we can better see how these newspapers could have an impact on the masses. For them, the facts did not matter, the important thing was to prepare the society psychologically for the future “Marijuana Tax Law”.

In order for cannabis to be banned completely and forgotten as if it was a toxic drug, the big capitalists had to be part of the ruling class of the United States and engage in lobbying. Andrew W. Mellon became Treasury Secretary of then-US President Herbert Clark Hoover in 1921. When the US Bureau of Narcotics was established in 1932 under the Treasury Department, Harry Jacob Anslinger, a close relative of Mellon, was appointed head of this office. When Harry J. Anslinger made statements denying the black propaganda carried out against cannabis until the late 1920s, his rhetoric started to change in the opposite direction when he came to the head of the establishment.



In 1935, while cannabis production was still widespread in the world, the US Treasury Department secretly started to prepare a bill called the “Marijuana Tax Law”. In charge of his job, Anslinger was ordering various fake investigations to be published in Hearst’s newspapers. Publishing these so-called studies was of course a pleasure for media mogul Hearst. At that time, a leaflet published by the US Bureau of Narcotics wrote: “Long-term use of cannabis puts a person in signs of madness and causes amok. This leads to high-level crimes such as killing and aggression … ” Anslinger, who said in those years that cannabis caused aggression and a tendency to violence, claimed the opposite in 1948, claiming that cannabis pacified the US soldiers, blunted the will to fight and that communists played a major role in this.

Anslinger kept some events on the agenda especially deliberately. For example, the story of a car accident allegedly caused by “marijuana” smoking remained in the headline for weeks, while alcohol-related car accidents were either on the back pages or not at all. Again, a young boy named Victor Licata, who allegedly killed his family with an ax after smoking “weed” in Florida, was constantly featured on the front pages. The media started to panic and scare the public by publishing the news that the “ax murderer” Victor Licata was using “devil’s weed” or cannabis. Thus, the frightened masses could easily believe what the rulers said and be guided.

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Savaş Ateş

I like cannabis. I read a lot about cannabis usage in the medical field. I researched a lot about planting it. I have started a cannabis business and i want to share my experiences with you.

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