The History of Cannabis: Part 2 - The Spread
The second part of this series will focus primarily on the spread of Cannabis to the West. The period spanning 1 CE to 1,900 CE saw the rise of Cannabis and set the stage for the vilification of this miracle plant.
1 CE to 1,000 CE
During the reign of Roman emperor Nero, a physician by the name of Dioscorides lists Medicinal Cannabis in his bench mark medical journal Pharmacopoeia, one of the most influential herbal books in history. Then in 100 CE imported hemp rope makes its first appearance in England.Flashing forward to 200 CE, Chinese surgeon Hua T’o begins to use Medical Cannabis as an Anesthetic. Moving over to Jerusalem, 300 CE, a young woman in Jerusalem receives Medical Cannabis to ease pain during childbirth. In 500-600 CE, the Jewish Talmud lists in detail the euphoric properties of Cannabis. Cannabis is fast spreading throughout the Asian and European continents with no signs of slowing. In 570 CE, French queen Arnegunde is buried with hemp cloth. Cannabis is then taken on the high seas (pun intended) to Iceland. The Vikings are responsible for bringing hemp seeds and rope to Iceland back in 850 CE and by 1,000 CE, Hemp ropes begin to be used on Italian ships.
1,000 CE to 1,900 CE
The story of Cannabis gets a little dark in this period. In the years spanning 1,090-1,124CE Hasan Ibn al-Sabbah begins to recruit followers to commit assassinations in Khorasan, Persia. Hasan and his assassins regularly consumed Hashish as apart of their Assassins ritual, believing that Hashish, once consumed, granted super human powers and abilities. The reason, legend has it, that Hasan was able to recruit such loyal followers to his cause was that he would drug the new recruits with a very potent form of Hashish. Once drugged and unconscious, Hasan would have the recruit taken to his “Garden of Earthly Delights”. In this garden nestled in a beautiful valley, Hasan had imported exotic birds and plant life, works of art, silk furniture and amazing food from all around the world. Hasan also used beautiful young woman as apart of this initiate ritual. When the recruit would wake up from his drug induced slumber, he would be greeted by many beautiful women in what he could only imagine was heaven. Hasan would then have the recruit drugged with more Hashish and taken out of the garden while unconscious. It was the promise of the return to this heaven that gained Hasan the unwavering loyalty of the recruits. Not long after the exploits of Hasan and his hashish smoking Assassins, the Ottoman Emir, Soudoun Scheikhouni issues the first edict against the eating of Hashish in 1,378 CE.
Around 1,549 CE, Cannabis makes its way into South America. Angolan slaves bring Cannabis with them to sugar plantations in northeastern Brazil. In 1,606 CE, the French and British began to grow Cannabis for hemp in their colonies in Port Royal, Virginia and Plymouth, Massachusetts. Cannabis is beginning to take hold in America. At the same time research into Cannabis begins to ramp up. In 1,753 CE Swedish Botanist Carl Linnaeus is the first to classify Cannabis Sativa, laying the ground work for future Cannabis research and experimentation. By the 1,800’s Cannabis plantations flourished in California, New York, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina, Nebraska and Kentucky. Then in 1850 Cannabis is officially added to the U.S. Pharmacopoeia. At this time Cannabis was widely used throughout the U.S. for medicinal use and could be purchased in pharmacies and general stores.
The time period from 1CE to 1,900 CE saw the rise and spread of Cannabis throughout the old world and into the new. Whether it be used for its industrial applications, medicinal treatments, or it’s euphoric effects, Cannabis was proving to be a true miracle crop. The time period post 1,900 CE is where things start to crumble for Cannabis, pun intended. Stay tuned for part 3 of this 4 part series “The Vilification of Cannabis”.
Comments will be approved before showing up.
Up until now, Cannabis has taken a beating. Racist agendas and competing interests worked in tandem to vilify Cannabis. Unfortunately, this trend will continue well into the next century until the public opens its eyes to the benefits of Cannabis and begins to enact change on the state level.