Cannabis has a long and storied history dating back centuries that most people aren’t aware of. Some of the earliest mentions of cannabis appear as early as 8000 BC when cannabis was first cultivated in Taiwan and in central Asia as a medicinal herb before spreading to the Middle East, Europe and Africa.
Cannabis eventually migrated across Asia to the Middle East, Europe and Africa Ancient Indian texts refer to cannabis as a treatment for numerous medical ailments including pain, headaches, insomnia and a wide variety of gastrointestinal disorders. The Greeks were also fond of cannabis as a medicinal plant to treat wounds and sores. In the 5th century BC the Greek historian Herodotus even described the use of cannabis in what the Greeks referred to as steam baths, which were actually hot boxes where cannabis was placed on hot coals in a tent to burn while people would gather inside to inhale the “steam” or vapor produced for its intoxicating effects. By the time the age of the Roman empire emerged cannabis was being widely cultivated across Europe, Asia and North Africa both for its medicinal value, as well as for the production of hemp which was widely used by many cultures as a fiber in the production of numerous goods and supplies.
One of the greatest scientists of the day Pliny the Elder documented cannabis in his 1st century work “Natural History” in one passage referring to cannabis as the “Laughing weed” and describing cannabis infused wine that was known to produce intoxication. After the fall of the Roman Empire cannabis was also utilized throughout Europe, The Middle East and also beyond as a staple of local economies with the wide scale agricultural production of hemp. Many cultures from the Vikings to the Arabian peninsula relied on Hemp in the production of fabric, clothing, and materials making it an essential in the maintenance of commerce, trade and economic stability for its various uses and application throughout society. The societal benefits cannabis provided in the form of hemp products as fabric and building materials led to the rise of exploration. Naval vessels from Spain to the British Isles were using hemp fabric to make the sails for their armadas, and helping provide the day to day necessities of life for the Europeans living under the dominion of those kingdoms. This history is very sadly not widely taught or known today.