Great Moments in Cannabis History
The history of cannabis use stretches back millennia. For at least 6000 years, and probably much longer than that, humans have cultivated, used, and traded cannabis. As a result, our beloved plant has propagated the globe.
But it’s been a long road from then to now, with many milestones in between that have made cannabis what it is today. Here, we’ve chosen five moments from the long history of cannabis; major events that changed the world and advanced our use and understanding of our favorite herb.
1. Cannabis and Ancient China
The world owes a great deal to the ancient Chinese. Paper, silk, porcelain, tea, kites, and even the compass were all invented by the great dynasties of ancient China. And, the discovery and use of cannabis can be added to the impressive list as well.
The Chinese were the first culture on earth to cultivate cannabis for use as food, fiber and medicine. In fact, cannabis’ medicinal qualities were written about extensively in the Chinese pharmacopoeia of the time, and our understanding of cannabis today wouldn’t be the same without them.
But it wasn’t just cultivation the great forefathers of cannabis gave to humanity, but also its introduction to the wider world. Because it was through another Chinese invention, The Silk Road, that cannabis left China and began its grand tour around the globe.
2. Trade, Arabia and Hashish
While China may have used cannabis mostly practically, the Arabian kingdoms would be the first culture to champion cannabis’ psychoactive effects. Having been introduced to cannabis through trade with Asia, the plant became an integral part of Arabian society.
Between the 9th and 15th centuries, a period known as the Islamic Golden Age, cannabis was not just used as a commodity, but also as both a spiritual and recreational drug. It was around this time that Hashish was ushered into the world, and another pivotal moment in the history of cannabis had occurred, History of Hash.
It was the first super strength cannabis concentrate to be unleashed on the world, and it’s safe to say that hashish was a game changer of its day. Easily stored, transported and possessing a potency that had never before been experienced, hashish was truly a milestone in the history of cannabis.
3. When Hemp Ruled the World
The importance of hemp to the advancement of human civilization cannot be understated. For all of us living through the prohibition era, it can be hard to believe that cannabis was, at one time, more common than sugar.
The naval era of European colonialism was built on the use of hemp. Ship rigging and sails used to be exclusively made from hemp fibers. It was such an important commodity that the colonists of Spain, Portugal, France, and England planted it wherever they went.
In fact, it was the Spanish who first introduced cannabis to the Americas. Through what is known as the Colombian Exchange, a widespread transfer of plants, animals and culture took place. Potatoes, maize, tomatoes, and tobacco existed exclusively in the Americas up until the 15th century. In exchange for these commodities, the Spanish brought rice, citrus fruits, bananas and livestock with them to trade trade with the New World and the two halves of the planet were connected for the first time. As the New World met the old through this great trade connection, the hemp plant was first introduced to the Americas, and its psychoactive brethren came along for the ride.
4. Breeding and Seedbanks
While cannabis had been widely used for centuries, the quality of the plant wasn’t what you would call “high grade.” It wasn’t until the late 20th century that next level cultivation practices took a rudimentary form of cannabis and turned it into the lush, potent and high yielding super plant we know today.
It actually wasn’t until the 1970’s that cannabis cultivation really took off, primarily in Holland. That was because, at the time, it was the only country where cannabis was legal. Holland’s cultivators scoured the globe for strong cannabis genetics and began breeding super strains of weed. Around the same time, the clandestine cultivators of the American West Coast created the world’s first stable Sativa-Indica hybrids, and the great breeding era of cannabis had begun.
This culminated in our fourth major event in cannabis: the establishment of seed banks. Now, high quality cannabis seeds with exceptional genetic properties could be purchased from expert breeders and grown around the globe.
5. The Dabbing Revolution
As the cannabis legalization movement progresses and continues to move ever closer to full legalization, cannabis advancements in recent years have gathered pace. One of the biggest changes in cannabis culture has come from the world of cannabis concentrates. Dabbing has exploded in popularity and looks set to take over the cannabis industry thanks to its use of the far superior vaporization method.
Smoking cannabis by means of combustion may have been the de facto way to consume cannabis for millennia, but the extract revolution has introduced a whole new healthier method of smoking. Concentrates, with their incredible flavor and potency, have taken cannabis to a new level. What’s more, inventions like pre-filled vape cartridges have made inhaling cannabis easier and more discreet than ever, making it easy to consume virtually anywhere.
Plus, we can’t forget solventless hash oils like rosin which are taking over the concentrate game. Ultimately, this has led to a huge shift in consumption habits among cannabis consumers with a whole new industry that has sprung up around concentrates – from edibles and topical creams to sublingual oils and of course, dabbing – making cannabis concentrates the latest milestone in the long history of cannabis.