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The history of human civilization is intertwined with that of cannabis.

From the pharaoh’s tombs which we call the pyramids in Egypt to the steam baths of Scythians in central Eurasia, from the court of ancient Chinese emperor Shen Nung to the clinics in ancient India, cannabis have been used around the world for ages. The cultivation of cannabis can be traced back at least 12,000 years, which places the plant among humanity’s oldest cultivated crops.  Cannabis plants are believed to have evolved in Central Asia in the regions of Mongolia and southern Siberia and have since made its way all over the world. Cannabis for thousands of years was a crop of great value among different cultures and civilizations throughout history as it held commercial, spiritual and medicinal value.

Cannabis in ancient China

The earliest cultural evidence and commercial application of cannabis comes from the oldest known Neolithic culture in china, the Yangshao, who wore hemp clothing, wove hemp and produced hemp pottery. From 5000 to 3000 B.C their economy was cannabis driven.

The first recorded use of cannabis as medicinal drug is by Chinese emperor Shen Nung in 2737 BC, who recorded the drug’s efficiency in treatment of Rheumatism and Gout. The ancient Chinese used virtually every part of the Cannabis plant: the root for medicine; the stem for textiles, rope and paper making; the leaves and flowers for intoxication and medicine; and the seeds for food and oil. From there cannabis travelled to Korea and spread through Asia.

Cannabis in ancient India

Cannabis in ancient India has been used since as early as 2000 BCE. Surviving texts from ancient India confirm that cannabis’ psychoactive properties were recognized, and doctors used it for treating a variety of illnesses and ailments. This included insomnia, headaches, a whole host of gastrointestinal disorders, and pain as cannabis was frequently used to relieve the pain of childbirth.

Cannabis in Ancient Egypt

According to ancient scrolls like Ebers Papyrus (ca. 1550 BC), Ramesseum III Papyrus (1700 BC), the Berlin Papyrus (1300 BC) and the Chester Beatty Medical Papyrus VI (1300 BC) the ancient Egyptians used cannabis to treat a host of ailments like sore eyes, hemorrhoids, cataracts etc. Egyptian women used cannabis as a medication to relieve sorrow and bad humor. Cannabis pollen was found on the mummy of Rameses II.  Additional research has linked cannabis pollen to all known royal mummies.

Cannabis in Middle East

In the Middle East cannabis was used by Scythians from 2000 BC to 1400 BC in their steam baths, the mention of which we find in Histories by Herodotus. Its medical use is recorded in 700 BC in the ancient Persian religious text, Venidad.

Cannabis in ancient Greece.

The Ancient Greeks used cannabis to dress wounds and sores on their horses. In humans, dried leaves of cannabis were used to treat nose bleeds, and cannabis seeds were used to expel tapeworms. The most frequently described use of cannabis in humans was to steep green seeds of cannabis in either water or wine, later taking the seeds out and using the warm extract to treat inflammation and pain resulting from obstruction of the ear


Prior to 1937 in the United States (and 1928 in the United Kingdom), cannabis had enjoyed a 5,000 year run as a therapeutic plant with no history of illegality.