Cannabis is both the name of a genus of flowering plants and the psychoactive dried flower that comes from them. Cannabis sativa takes the longest of the three species to mature and grows closer to the equator than other types of the plant. Cannabis indica matures next quickly and is generally found farther away from the equator. Cannabis ruderalis matures the most quickly, though its flowers don't yield high concentrations of cannabinoids, the alkaloids in cannabis that cause psychoactive effects in users.
Throughout history, these three types of cannabis have been used all over the world. Since historians don't have a time machine, they can only use evidence that they've found to determine the first known use of cannabis.
Where And When Did People First Use Cannabis, Say Historians?
Cannabis seeds found on Japan's Oki Islands date back to roughly 10,000 years ago - 8000 B.C. although this doesn't guarantee that the ancient Japanese people of the Oki Islands used cannabis, historians believe that it is safe to assume that they did, in fact, use the plant.
Since there was little to no context provided at the find on the Oki Islands, there's no way to know how those people used cannabis.
The Growth of Cannabis Use as Years Go By
The next-oldest find of cannabis came in the form of hemp fibers, which were located in Chinese pottery that was likely created between 4000 and 5000 B.C. These hemp fibers were likely used for building things since they're so strong, abundant, and easy to grow. Chinese people soon thereafter, historians suggest, used hemp, which is an industrial variety of cannabis that doesn't contain many active alkaloids, to make things like rope and paper.
Tons of fabric formed from hemp fiber has been found on the Korean Peninsula. Experts believe that this make of ancient, rudimentary fabric dates as far back as 5,000 years, or to 3000 B.C.
Here's Where the First Writing That Mentions Cannabis Was Found, And When
Shennong, an ancient Chinese emperor who ruled in 2700 B.C., is responsible for the first written documentation of cannabis. The emperor's writing comes from 2727 B.C.
Herodotus, one of ancient Greece's most prominent historians, indicated that the people of Scythia, a large historical region that borders the Aral Sea, southern Russia, and the Baltic Sea, smoked cannabis for both traditional rituals and recreation.
Historians are certain that humans have been smoking cannabis recreationally since 200 B.C. at the latest, as hemp seeds were found throughout the Pazyryk burials, a series of tombs from the Iron Age that is located roughly around modern-day Siberia, Russia, China, and Kazakhstan. This discovery of cannabis seeds all but proves Herodotus' reports that people smoked cannabis for recreation and religion.
Some 2,000 years ago, around the time of the birth of Jesus, people began separating the sticky trichomes that contain cannabinoids from cannabis flowers, making hash.
Many other things happened throughout history related to cannabis - but this is the ancient cannabis history you really need to know.