A Brief History of Marijuana and Recreational Cannabis

Now that many states are decriminalizing marijuana thanks to increasing popular support, you may be wondering why it was outlawed for so long in the first place. As it turns out, people have known about its benefits and effects for thousands of years. Since the cannabis plant originally grew in Central Asia, the natives in the area had sufficient time to explore and document its medical and recreational benefits.

Today, many different strains, such as Indica and Sativa, are grown around the world. Marijuana can be smoked, eaten, or brewed, and it can be used to relieve anxiety, manage pain, or simply get high. Whatever reason you may have, there are thousands of years worth of research to help you find the best high for you.

The History of Weed

The growth and consumption of recreational cannabis is anything but a new American trend. In fact, the plant itself may have existed 11,700 years ago, growing naturally in Central Asia. Thus, it was only a matter of time until its effects and uses were discovered in China, India, and even Egypt. Starting 5,000 years ago, marijuana earned recognition even among Chinese emperors for its ability to treat ailments such as glaucoma and inflammation. Some ancient medicines containing cannabis are still used today, such as the 3,000-year-old bhang, known as the favorite drink of the Hindu god Shiva.

Eventually, other uses for weed were found. For example, hemp fiber was used to make paper, rope, clothing, and even sails. As for early consumption of recreational cannabis, the Greek historian Herodotus recounted a group of Iranian nomads named Scythians who got high off cannabis flowers and seeds. Throughout Asia and the Middle East, cannabis was smoked in a form called “hashish”. Smoking hashish was common among followers of the increasingly popular Islam religion, since the Quran didn’t forbid its use. Later, the Greek physician and philosopher Galen described the psychoactive effects of cannabis in addition to its therapeutic properties.

Eventually, the medical properties of cannabis were recognized all over the world. It was only during America’s Great Depression that marijuana became stigmatized. Because of its association with Mexican immigrants and negative portrayal in films such as Reefer Madness, many states began banning cannabis outright, leading to the Marijuana Tax Act and the removal of the plant from the U.S. Pharmacopeia. However, even as the federal “War on Drugs” continued for decades, some states began to decriminalize the drug, starting with Oregon, Maine, and Alaska in the 1970s.

Recreational Cannabis Today

Thanks to research both modern and ancient, fears of cannabis being addictive and inciting violence aren’t nearly as widespread today. In 1996, California was the first state to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes. Today, use of recreational cannabis is legal in 38 states, starting with Colorado and Washington in 2012.

If you’re interested in trying a drug with 5,000 years of history behind it, be sure to visit your local cannabis dispensary! If you’re in Massachusetts, for example, you could give Campfire Cannabis a shot; we’ll help you find your perfect high.

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