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A Brief and Perhaps Surprising History of Global Weed Use

A Brief and Perhaps Surprising History of Global Weed Use

By Grow How

We’re living in a pretty exciting time right now; after what seems like an eternity of pretending that pot is the world’s dirty little secret, common sense is starting to prevail. Upward of 100 million Americans – Barack Obama included – have smoked pot in their lives or smoke on a regular basis, so to ignore the subject due to some kind of archaic taboo was, and is, a pretty futile way to go.


As we look to a future where more states, regions and countries will find themselves with little choice other than to legalise the stuff, it’s good to take stock of the world’s affinity with weed to date. While it’s no secret that weed has been around since the dawn of man in one form or another, there are one or two facts about its history you might find surprising.



For example…did you know that:


Weed Use Dates back to Ancient China

According to historical records, the use of pot for medicinal and recreational purposes dates back as far at 2,727 BC. What’s perhaps even more surprising though is evidence that the first pioneers of the weed lifestyle were in fact Chinese. It’s more commonly known that the Romans and Greeks were well into their pot smoking, but this didn’t really start happening until a full thousand years after the Chinese had discovered and begun making use of weed’s hidden magic.


Resin First Shot to Fame Nearly 200 Years Ago

It’s funny, but if you ask a sample group of weed smokers about cannabis resin, a fair few of them will tell you that resin is actually a pretty new concept – one invented in the 20th century as a cheaper way of getting a weed fix. In reality, however, this isn’t the case at all, as records show that resin was in fact being used in the 1800s…and by a hell of a lot of people. Being able to mix the stuff with whatever the punters wanted laid the foundation for some serious experimentation – the results of which we’re all still benefiting from today.


Before the 1890s, Weed Didn’t Have a Bad Reputation

When America got its first widespread taste of weed in the early 1900s, it already had a pretty bad reputation that put most people off the idea entirely. Interestingly though, prior to the 1890s there was barely a bad word said about the stuff. What went wrong? Well, as usual it all came down to English-language newspapers making up a whole bunch of rubbish about weed causing violence and crime, immediately making it an evil substance in the minds of those that had never even come across it before. You can always rely on the tabloids to ruin things for everyone!


Marijuana – As in the Word – Is a Mystery

Despite there being a ton of information as to the history of weed and its use dating back thousands of years, nobody really knows where the word ‘marijuana’ came from. Sure, there’s a ton of theories out there and a fair few life-long smokers will claim they know the truth, but in reality there’s really no iron-clad answer as to where the name came from. Some say it’s derived from an Indian word, others say it’s Spanish and then there are those crediting the Chinese with coming up with the name. On the whole though, chances are we’ll never know for sure.


Henry Ford Once Thought About Using Hemp to Build a Car

In the quest to build cars that were lighter, cheaper and easier to run, the founder of one of the world’s most important car-makers once dreamed up an idea of using hemp to make a car…or at least, parts thereof. He hoped his 'hemp-plastic' based industry would help save American farmers during the Depression. This never happened, though would have been a pretty brilliant take on the modern pot-mobile.


Most Marijuana Research Isn’t to Identify Its Benefits

It sounds almost too ridiculous to believe, but despite an incredible amount of time and money being pumped into weed research the world over, most such research isn’t geared toward identifying and analysing its medicinal properties. In fact, no more than about 6% of weed research is carried out for such purposes. This is a pretty depressing statistic to say the least and confirms that for the vast majority of research teams, it’s a much bigger priority to look at the bad side of the stuff than all the good it can do. As we already know there’s a ton of good in there, it’s a shame it isn’t being put to better use.


The Availability of Marijuana Has Been Linked to Lower Suicide Rates

While the cliché image of the down-and-out stoner is one the media loves to perpetuate, there’s actually evidence that points to quite the contrary. Decades of theory have been slowly but surely eroded away by more recent studies, which have brought to light evidence that suicide rates are actually considerably lower in areas where marijuana is either legal or more readily available. Unsurprisingly, these aren’t the kinds of stats and figures that the government is too happy to shout about or publicise readily, though has been further proven since marijuana was made legal in Colorado and Washington State.


Marijuana Was Initially Taxed Rather Than Officially Criminalized

Last up, when the 1937 Marihuana tax act was brought in across the United States, it set the tax on weed so high that pretty much no standard citizens would be able to buy it…at least legally, anyway. In a sense therefore, this made weed wholly illegal to do anything with and therefore to a certain extent represented the first instance of pot being banned from sale and use. This would eventually be followed by a new act in the 30s which did away with the pointless taxing initiative and just made the stuff illegal. So, while it’s pretty much the same end result either way, at least making it outright illegal feels a bit less patronising than the prior approach.



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