In order to make absolutely sure of what they were seeing, the team then analysed ancient cannabis samples from the Jiayi Cemetery in Turpan, dating back to 790-520 BCE, to obtain a chemical reference signal.
“To our excitement, we identified the biomarkers of cannabis and local chemicals related to the psychoactive properties of a plant,” archaeologist Yimin Yang of the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences said in a press conference.
“This is among the earliest chemical evidence of cannabis smoking.”
This discovery, the archaeologists said, is the earliest clear evidence of the use of cannabis for its psychoactive properties.
Nearly all of the burnt residues from the stones and insides of bowls contained traces of cannabinol, suggesting that cannabis plants were deliberately burnt by placing scorching hot stones on top of them in the braziers.
It is important to distinguish between the two familiar subspecies of the cannabis plant, Warf said. Cannabis sativa, known as marijuana, has psychoactive properties. The other plant is Cannabis sativa L. (The L was included in the name in honor of the botanist Carl Linnaeus.) This subspecies is known as hemp; it is a nonpsychoactive form of cannabis, and is used in manufacturing products such as oil, cloth and fuel. [11 Odd Facts About Marijuana]
Americans laws never recognized the difference between Cannabis sativa L. and Cannabis sativa. The plant was first outlawed in Utah in 1915, and by 1931 it was illegal in 29 states, according to the report.
From the sites where prehistoric hunters and gatherers lived, to ancient China and Viking ships, cannabis has been used across the world for ages, and a new report presents the drug’s colorful history.
Burned cannabis seeds have also been found in kurgan burial mounds in Siberia dating back to 3,000 B.C., and some of the tombs of noble people buried in Xinjiang region of China and Siberia around 2500 B.C. have included large quantities of mummified psychoactive marijuana.
Cannabis plants are believed to have evolved on the steppes of Central Asia, specifically in the regions that are now Mongolia and southern Siberia, according to Warf. The history of cannabis use goes back as far as 12,000 years, which places the plant among humanity’s oldest cultivated crops, according to information in the book “Marihuana: The First Twelve Thousand Years” (Springer, 1980).
In the Arab world, references to hashish began to show up between 800 A.D. and 1000 A.D. The plant’s intoxicating effects began to be emphasized around this time. Muslims used marijuana recreationally since alcohol consumption was banned by the Koran but marijuana was not. Hindus in India revered the use of marijuana in a mildly intoxicating drink called bhang, saying that it cured a long list of ills, including problems with sunstroke, digestion and dysentery.
The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 classified marijuana along with heroin and LSD as a Schedule I drug, which means that it has high abuse potential and no accepted medical use. Colombia then became the main supplier.
Marijuana in America
Marijuana has been used as medicine and a way of achieving euphoria since ancient times. The first reference to its use is in a Chinese medical manual dating back to around 2700 B.C. Chinese legend states that its usefulness in treating rheumatism, gout, malaria and, oddly enough, absent-mindedness was documented by Chinese Emperor Shen Nung — known as the Father of Chinese Medicine.
By 1890, hemp had been replaced by cotton as a major cash crop in southern U.S. states, but hemp plants were not grown for their intoxicating properties. The level of intoxicant in this plant was very low. That began to change in 1910 when many people fled Mexico during that country’s revolution, arriving in America and bringing cannabis with them.
Also in the mid-1500s, African slaves transported to Brazil brought cannabis with them. They worked farms in Brazil and they were allowed to grow crops of marijuana to smoke.