Weed has been used for thousands of years for industrial, recreational, religious, and medicinal purposes. Historians and archeologists believe Cannabis sativa has been grown for at least 12,000 years. Weed plants were initially cultivated for their fiber and grain. The fibers and stalks of hemp, a non-psychoactive variety of Cannabis sativa, were found to be particularly useful in the development of numerous products including paper, textiles, and rope (Pain, Nature, 2015; Baron, Headache, 2015).
The exact geographic origin of marijuana is unknown, but it is believed that the plant arose in Central Asia and subsequently spread throughout Asia and Europe, following the migration patterns of humans (Russo, Chem Biodivers, 2007). Carbon dating of archeologic remains from the Yang-shao culture in China has confirmed the use of marijuana fibers in the form of hemp dating as far back as 4,000 BC (Li, Economic Botany, 1974).
Marijuana spread to the United States after the arrival of Columbus, and the industrial benefits were capitalized in the country. In fact, in 1619, Virginia passed a law requiring hemp to be grown on every farm in the colony (history.com 2018).
The earliest evidence of the medical use of marijuana dates back to 2,700 BC, where the Chinese Emperor Shen Nung described it as a remedy for gout, malaria, rheumatism, and constipation (Liu, Lett Drug Disc Des, 2006).
In Egypt, starting around 1700 BC, scholars began to outline medical remedies for a number of ophthalmic, gynecologic, and infectious disorders using marijuana, indicating suspected antibacterial, antipyretic, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory effects (Russo, Chem Biodivers, 2007).
A number of ancient societies in Asia and Europe, including the Greeks, Romans, and Mesopotamians provided medical indications for the use of marijuana. Some historians even argue references can be found in the original Biblical texts (Russo, Chem Biodivers, 2007).
In India, literary descriptions of marijuana were outlined as early as the sixth and seventh centuries. By the tenth century, scholars were clearly describing the narcotic and pain-relieving properties of the plant (Chopra, Bull. Narcotics, 1957).
The first archeologic evidence supporting the medical use of marijuana came from a burial cave near Jerusalem. The skeleton of a 14-year-old girl who had presumably died during childbirth in the fourth century was found to have burnt plant remains on her abdomen. Chemical analysis showed the remains contained THC. Archaeologists concluded that marijuana had been burnt in a vessel and that the girl inhaled marijuana smoke during her efforts to deliver the baby (Pain, Nature, 2015).
Marijuana has long held an important role in human culture, across a variety of cultures and regions, and it was well-known before the modern era to be a potent, versatile therapeutic.
Weedless.org is a free, web-based resource and community created by a team of healthcare professionals and researchers. We distill the facts about marijuana use and its effects into practical guidance for interested persons or for those who are thinking about or struggling to quit weed. Finding reliable, easy to understand information about marijuana should never be a struggle—that is why our core mission is to provide the most up to date information about marijuana use, abuse, addiction, and withdrawal. While we seek to empower individuals to have control over their use, we are not “anti-weed” and we support efforts to legalize adult marijuana use and study.