Marijuana’s Surprisingly Deep History: 3 Things You Probably Didn’t Know

Marijuana…hemp…pot…Mary Jane…no matter what you call it, surely you already have heard quite a bit about it. But have you ever thought about the history of cannabis and its uses? I think you would be surprised to find out that marijuana as it’s commonly known today wasn’t exactly seen or used the same way back then. Here are a couple facts about the history of cannabis that you probably didn’t know:

A History in China

Marijuana has been used to treat pain as far back as 2900 B.C. with evidence of it starting in China. Rather than recreational purposes, marijuana mostly served medicinal or fibrous functions. In fact, many ancient Chinese civilizations used marijuana to make cloth and other things such as paper, rope, and bowstrings.

The Chinese also used marijuana for medicinal and even food purposes. An ancient emperor called Shen-Nung was especially fond for the stuff. Although he discovered many other medicinal drugs for the wellbeing of his subjects, ‘ma’ or cannabis, was a favorite among the people thanks to its ability to balance the body and restore equilibrium. No wonder cannabis is becoming more and more popular in medicine today.


Migration to The Middle East

Another one of the earliest accounts of marijuana came from the Middle East. Thanks to trade routes between China and the Middle East and the preservational properties of the cannabis plant, marijuana became quite popular in this area of the world—but in a slightly different way. For the first time in history, recreational marijuana was introduced to the world.

Funny enough, one of the first Arab practitioners to get his hands on the plant considered cannabis to be poisonous. However, that did not stop middle easterners from enjoying what marijuana had to offer. Arabs often used marijuana for achieving greater ‘spirituality’, as smoking concentrated, dried cannabis opened up the user’s mind to greater ‘revelatory experiences’ (as I am sure you can imagine).


Hemp in Red, White, and Blue

Did you know that cannabis came to America several centuries ago? In fact, America was growing cannabis before the start of the Revolutionary War thanks to Spanish conquistadors and Vikings. During the British colonization of America, British-Americans were required to grow large amounts of marijuana as a cash crop—which is rightly understandable given marijuana’s many functions.

While cannabis wasn’t used as much for recreational or even medicinal properties at first, the British-American colonies more commonly used marijuana fibers to make sales and rope for ships. Later, cannabis’ medical properties made their way onto center stage thanks to World War II.


Things are never what they seem. Looking into the history of something tells a lot about it—just as marijuana’s history gives a fuller account about its important role in the world’s ancient and modern-day societies. And that is all just something to think about before considering a trip to Aunt Mary’s.

Here’s another article you might like: 3 Things to Know About the Legal Headache That Is Marijuana Legislation