When, where, and who discovered marijuana

Reading Time 7 minutes
Imagen de 2 neandertales haciendo fuego y plantas de marihuana de fondo
Image of 2 Neanderthals making fire and marijuana plants on either side.



The origin of marijuana is not entirely clear, but there is a certain unanimity in the place and the year that humans discovered that this plant is more special than the rest of all those classified up to that moment. In this article we are going to see facts of the history of marijuana such as its discovery, expansion throughout the world, and the use and exploitation that each civilization gave it. Do not worry that it will not be very long, we will try to summarize as much as possible but without leaving any important data.



🚀 When was marijuana discovered?



Although the most widespread theory says that it was almost 5,000 years ago, vestiges of fibers have been found that according to the analyzes come from hemp dating back approximately 25,000 years. Thanks to new technologies, it has been possible to demonstrate that cannabis may have been present on this planet for at least 28 million years, although humans did not discover it until many millennia later..

It is not possible to know when the first marijuana plant was discovered by man, but if we base ourselves on the first moment it was documented as such, we would be talking about the year 2,800 BC approximately. If we take into account that in ancient times information was transmitted by word of mouth from person to person and there were hardly any written references to the discoveries, we can think that humanity has been using cannabis for much longer.



✅ Who discovered weed?


Who was the first person to discover the marijuana plant? We have asked ourselves this question many times, and I have to admit that more than once I have thought of that moment when a person from ancient times was walking through the mountains and came across this beautiful plant full of buds and with a delicious aroma. … But surely it wasn’t exactly like that. Cannabis was most likely used long before, but the one who discovered the power of marijuana and showed it to the world was Emperor Shen Nung or Shennong through the first Chinese medicine book, “The Herbal”, which dates back to the year 2,800 BC.

The history of the use of marijuana can be traced back many years, at least to the stone age, since a group of archaeologists discovered in present-day Taiwan remains of hemp fibers used to make clothes that could be around 12,000 years old. In Japan there are also references to the use of the herb that can make us think that it was already used since the final stage of the stone age.

*imagen del emperador Shen Nung con sus plantas medicinales*
*image of emperor Shen Nung with his medicinal plants*



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🔥 Where was the first marijuana plant discovered?


Supposedly the country of origin of the herb would be found today in a place located between the north of China and the south of Russia, on a Tibetan plateau near the Qinghai Lake, since it is the place where the presence has been found more ancient pollen of this plant. From central Asia it gradually spread to present-day India, Korea, and through the Middle East to East Africa, where it was widely used and researched by the Egyptian civilization. Until now, cannabis was used mainly medicinally and industrially, to make resistant fibers and treat all kinds of ailments and diseases.

In Persia and other Islamic regions, hashish became popular as a more powerful form of consumption than the herb itself, but this was many years later, between 800 AD and 1,000 AD. What is not entirely clear is whether it was the first civilization that thought of concentrating marijuana resin, because it is suspected that in some regions of India such as Kashmir or the Parvati and Malana valleys they began to make the famous charas earlier. The history of marijuana in India goes far beyond industrial and therapeutic use, as it is considered one of the 5 sacred plants and has acquired a very important religious role. So much so that Hindu legend holds that Shiva, the supreme deity of many sects, was given the title ‘Lord of Bhang’, because the cannabis plant was his favorite food.

Cannabis reached Europe through 2 different routes, first from the east through present-day Turkey around 2,000 BC, and later from the south through present-day Morocco in approximately 800 AD. The greek civilization made a great medicinal use of this plant, much more than recreational because at that time they worshiped the god Bacchus, so they normally got drunk with wine, but also with opium. Curiously, in the Islamic world from where he came to Greece, the opposite happened, since the Koran prohibits alcohol but allows the consumption of cannabis. Many years later, around the 16th century, yerba came to America through various routes from the hands of slaves who came from Africa, and it is suspected that the Spanish also brought seeds of this plant when they discovered the new world.

*imagen de un mapamundi donde se puede ver la expansión del cannabis por todo el mundo*
*image of a world map where you can see the expansion of cannabis throughout the world*



👾 History of marijuana in America


Although there are different official versions, it seems quite clear that the history of yerba in America began when thousands of inhabitants of southern Africa were taken to South America to work as slave labor. These people used cannabis in their daily lives for spiritual, recreational and medicinal use, and when they arrived in what is now Brazil, they began to cultivate it to better cope with the long hours of hard work. Approximately 2 centuries later, African slaves who arrived in present-day Jamaica from the area that today includes Cameroon and Nigeria also brought seeds of this sacred plant.

On the other hand, it is assumed that in the year 1616 hemp seeds arrived in Jamestown (North Carolina) brought by the British, who had based the success of their army on this crop. King James I ordered all landowners in this British colony to grow at least 100 plants to make rope, sails, clothing, and other supplies needed for the conquest of the planet they were carrying out at the time. In North America it spread rapidly, and in a few years it was the main crop for industrial purposes due to its perfect adaptation to the land, its low water needs, and the quality of its fibers.


President George Washington was one of the greatest advocates of cannabis in his time, and there are diary entries from 1765 that show that he cultivated the plant carefully to the point of removing the males so they would not pollinate the females…“I have begun to separate the male plants from the females in the swampy hollow, perhaps too late”. Such was his passion that in the year 1776 he wrote the declaration of independence of the United States on hemp paper. In the year 1850, the US census counted up to 8,327 hemp plantations (greater than 2,000 acres of land). Shortly after, around 1,883, hashish smoking rooms were opened in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, St. among many other cities, and to give you an idea, it is estimated that at this time in New York alone there were more than 500 of these salons.



🧐 History of marijuana in California


Today California is the mecca of cannabis worldwide, there is no doubt about that, but this has not always been the case. In 1890, many Mexicans smoked weed to relax after work, and soon after came the Pancho Villa revolution, something that changed the history of our beloved plant forever. In the year 1902, the newspaper magnate Randolph Hearst lost 800,000 acres of land in Mexico necessary to produce the paper he used in his publications, and at that time he began a media crusade against Mexican hemp paper and everything that had to do with this plant. In 1910, many Mexicans arrived en masse in the United States fleeing the revolution, and they brought with them yerba mate and seeds to be able to continue enjoying its benefits. With all the power that comes from having a media outlet, Hearst criminalized users of “marijuana”, the term he used so that most Americans would not realize that what he wanted to ban was cannabis, which until then He had a good reputation.

The history of marijuana in Texas or New Mexico is very similar to that of California for being land shared at the time with Mexico, since influenced by Randolph Hearst’s press, the majority of the inhabitants of the USA bought the prohibitionist discourse that said that Mexicans and blacks who smoked marijuana ended up committing crimes of all kinds, robberies, rapes, murders, etc. However, medical cannabis was allowed in the USA until the 1930s, when the US federal narcotics office organized a campaign with the intention of giving an image of an addictive drug that causes violence, and among other things, the movie Reefer Madness appeared. In the year 1937, the prohibition of cannabis was made official in the United States, among other things because synthetic fibers such as lycra or nylon had just been discovered, which they were interested in selling above hemp fiber, but as always happens, from That moment began to be consumed massively in a playful way.

The 1940s were marked by the Second World War, but from the 50s the true history of marijuana began in California thanks to the Beat generation. Poets like Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac or William Burroughs, among others, made the consumption of weed fashionable among young people, and later in the 1960s it was a fundamental pillar of the hippie generation. This caused the administration governed by Richard Nixon to initiate the well-known war on drugs, and in 1970 marijuana was incorporated, along with LSD and heroin, into list 1 of the controlled substances law. This did not stop consumption either, on the contrary, from that moment cannabis breeding and the history of modern marijuana varieties began. In this same decade, the first commercial hybrids appeared, such as Original Haze or Skunk #1, among others, including seed banks such as Sacred Seeds. From these first hybrids and others that appeared later, all the varieties that we have today arose. Interestingly, California was the first state in the USA to legalize the use of medicinal cannabis in 1994, and the mirror in which most states around the world have looked to decriminalize this very special plant.


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🎯 Conclusion


Today we have seen the origin and history of how marijuana spread throughout the world over many centuries, until reaching these moments where we enjoy a global market that invoices more every day. We have tried to summarize as much as possible so that it is not heavy and you can read it while you smoke a joint calmly. If you have any unresolved questions, you can ask us in the comments, and if we know how to answer it, we will be happy to do so, and if you liked this article, we would appreciate it if you share it on your social network.



⚠️ Frequent questions


Who discovered that marijuana is smoked and gets you high?

Supposedly they were the Scythians, a group of Iranian nomadic warriors who conquered a part of Eurasia and Central Asia, and among other things they worshiped the dead in a ceremony that, according to the Greek historian Herodotus, they inhaled the smoke of the flowers and seeds of the Cannabis burning but without flame to get high, that is, they smoked marijuana to get high. It is the first written reference to the recreational smoked use of this plant, although it was previously known that its consumption causes intoxication.


When was yerba discovered in America?

In South America it was discovered before that in North America, approximately in the 16th century in a region that today belongs to Brazil, carried by African slaves. In North America it was not until the 17th century that this plant appeared in the city of Jamestown, brought by the British. Later, in the 19th century, it also arrived in Jamaica from Africa.


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Fran Quesada Moya
Fran Quesada Moya

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