The History Of Marijuana

Have you ever wondered where marijuana comes from? Or perhaps you are simply seeking some weed history facts? Either way, we have the answers you seek. 

Cannabis is a hot topic in the world right now, with a considerable shift occurring in the legalization of the miracle plant. That’s where this article about the history of marijuana comes in. Read on to see how cannabis grew throughout the ages.

Cannabis leaf on an old parchment of paper

Types Of Cannabis

Humans have been using cannabis for many centuries, but we need to understand the subject before looking at the past. So, here are the various types of cannabis we find.


Sativa originates from the Latin word for “cultivated” and directly descends from Cannabis Sativa. They were originally native to tropical climates but have adapted well to indoor cultivation. 

In terms of psychoactive chemicals, Sativas contain more tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and less Cannabidiol (CBD), meaning they are usually more uplifting and energetic at the expense of pain relief. Sativas also tend to have a higher ratio of THC to CBD, which results in their potency being more significant than that of Indicas.


The Indica name also originates from modern Latin, meaning “India,” seeing as that is the country it originates from.  

You can identify Indicas by their short stature, a thick canopy of leaves, and a higher level of CBD to THC. In addition, Indica plants tend to grow outward (producing wider stems) rather than upward, often resulting in narrower leaves. It often results in the sedative “body high” that marijuana is known for.


Russian botanists first discovered this variety back in the early 20th century, but very few samples have popped up since then. It has evolved to survive extremely harsh climates, which means it can grow almost anywhere without human assistance. 

Unfortunately, it also means that its THC production is practically nonexistent, so don’t expect to get stoned off of this one. Instead, Cannabis Ruderalis varieties are used for medical purposes because of their high CBD content—perfect for treating pain and seizure sufferers.


A hybrid plant refers to offspring between two genetically distinct subspecies or species. It creates a plant that has different characteristics than its parents. 

A famous example is the Blue Dream hybrid, a sativa-dominant (up and active) blend of classic Blueberry Indica with Sativa Haze. The strain has an energetic and profoundly relaxing high that relieves physical discomfort and mental stress.

Uses Of Cannabis

Now that we’ve looked at the types of cannabis, we can explore their uses.


Hemp is the fibrous, woody inner stem of the cannabis plant. It has thousands of uses, including the production of paper, textiles, biodegradable plastics, construction materials (hempcrete), health food (hemp seeds), fuel (hemp oil), and medicine (Sativex).


A doctor holding cannabis oil

There have been over 25,000 medical marijuana prescriptions in Canada since its legalization in 2001. Patients use cannabis for relief for severe pain, nausea during chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatment. Other uses are the treatment of weight loss or poor appetite due to chronic illness such as HIV/AIDs or cancer treatments, lack of restful sleep due to conditions like insomnia or chronic pain syndrome, and post-traumatic stress disorder.


Some marijuana alongside some joints.

Cannabis is used recreationally by many people. The most common way it’s smoked is in a joint, bowl, bong/water pipe, blunt/cigar, or vaporizer. You can also take it in the form of cannabis oil, capsules, or edibles. 

The most common reason for consumption is to experience hallucinogenic and euphoric effects. Additionally, people also use it as a relaxant to help them sleep or other medical reasons, as mentioned above.

Timeline Of Cannabis

Cannabis on an old world map

Now that you know the various types and uses of marijuana, we can go on an adventure through time. Here is a quick overview showing part of the history of weed: 

  • 900 BC – 200 BC: Marijuana appears in the earliest known records of Ancient Asia, with proof that many different tribes used it in many different ways.
  • 900 AD: The beginning of the Islamic empire saw hashish spread from India to the Middle East.
  • 1545: Cannabis is introduced in North America by Spanish conquistadors.
  • 1611: John Rolfe, settler and husband of Pocahontas, aids in growing cannabis for hemp in Virginia.
  • 1619: Jamestown settlers grew marijuana to make rope and fabric for its robust fiber. The plant is also a source of various medications used in their treatment practices.
  • 1753: Irish doctor William O’Shaughnessy publishes a paper about using cannabis oil to treat tetanus, rabies, and rheumatism.
  • 1753: Carl Linnaeus, a Swedish botanist, classifies a species of cannabis and names it Sativa. An old journal with a marijuana leaf on it.
  • 1785: Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, a French botanist, discovers a second species of cannabis in India and names it Indica. 
  • 1840: Cannabis became more mainstream, and more medications started to use it as an ingredient. 
  • 1930: Dmitrij Janischewsky, a Russian botanist, discovered the third species and named it Ruderalis. 
  • 1937: Congress decided to pass the Marijuana Tax Act, which regulated the growth and sale of all hemp products.
  • 1970: The Controlled Substance Act (CSA) is passed, which outlaws cannabis along with other drugs. Marijuana is said to be a highly addictive drug with no medicinal value.
  • 1996: California passes Proposition 215, which allows patients with a doctor’s recommendation to possess and cultivate marijuana for personal medical use.
  • 2003: Hemp seeds are legalized for consumption in the US (except by the DEA) after a 6-month federal quarantine period to prevent foreign weed seeds from spreading.
  • 2013: The prohibition of cannabis is lifted in Colorado and Washington, allowing people over 21 to purchase small amounts for recreational use.
  • 2014: Canada’s new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was elected when he promised to legalize weed but hadn’t given any specifics on how that would work.
  • 2018: Recreational sale of marijuana in stores became legalized in California.

The Impact Of Reefer Madness

Reefer Madness is a propaganda film made in the 1930s to help shape American public opinion on marijuana use. It was inaccurate and exaggerated how harmful it can be while at the same time portraying users as violent, sex-crazed lunatics. It caused a moral panic that led to extreme anti-marijuana laws all over the country.

The War On Marijuana

The War on Marijuana attempts to stop illicit drug use by regulating, restricting, and banning access to said drugs. Supporters of this movement believe if a substance causes harm, it should be illegal, assuming it will reduce crime rates and make drug addicts get treatment. 

Opponents argue that it caused a “War On Drugs” that increased violence in the already violent communities, increasing incarceration rates. It also grew the prison populations for low-level offenses. In turn, this increased the effects of poverty because more people could not find jobs, leaving them without a source of income, exacerbating pre-existing social problems. 

Present Day Weed

Today weed is used by those who want to relax or as an anti-nausea drug for those undergoing chemotherapy treatments. Medical studies also show that cannabinoids (active ingredients in marijuana) can effectively lower intraocular pressure (IOP), which helps reduce pain and improve blood flow in patients with glaucoma. It also reduces muscle spasms, decreases anxiety, improves sleep quality for those suffering from chronic pain and arthritis, and helps children who suffer from seizures.

Due to increasing evidence of marijuana’s positive effects on society, more and more states are legalizing it for medical use. In addition, some states are even allowing recreational marijuana.


Marijuana has been used worldwide, from ancient civilizations to the modern-day. Over the years, people misunderstood it, even though it is a source of fiber, medicine, and much more. Its criminalization did nothing but help a growing prison population while also little to nothing to slow down drug use rates. 

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