A Brief History of Cannabis in the World


A brief history of cannabis in the worldCannabis has an extraordinarily long history. Currently it is rated no. 3 in the world as the drug of choice, after tobacco and alcohol. In the US, like other parts of the world, there has always been a strong cultural link with students, artists and especially jazz musicians, and of course itinerant youth and the unemployed. In this essay, I plan a swift swoop through a brief history of cannabis and bring you up-to-date with the current situation in the US.


We know from history that cannabis has a very ancient lineage. Archaeologists know that it was cultivated in Japan in the pre-Neolithic period in 8000 BC. This would have been in the last phase of the Stone Age when animals were domesticated and the first tentative steps in agriculture were initiated. Even though the hemp fibers of the plant would have been used for textiles for centuries, my suspicion that knowing of man’s, let us say, ignoble motivations he would have very soon discovered the plant’s narcotic qualities.

The Ebers Papyrus

A brief history of cannabis
         Ebers Papyrus C. 1550 BC

The celebrated Ebers Papyrus, dated C.1550 BC was purchased in Luxor, Egypt by Georg Ebers of Germany in 1873/74. Contains an account of the current medical knowledge and refers to approximately 700 examples of indigenous medicine and magical spells. It also has evidence of their use of marijuana.



Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie FRS

However, this is not the oldest Egyptian reference to the use of THC or marijuana. That can be seen on Plate A26, in the Ramesseum III Papyrus, dated C.1700 BC, discovered by Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie FRS, better known as Flinders Petrie (1895-6) and now in the British Museum in London.


A history of cannabis through the world.
              Flinders Petrie 

Flinders Petrie was part of a group of European Egyptologists who really pioneered research into ancient artifacts in Egypt and the Middle East.


However, it would appear that the very earliest evidence of the cannabis plant actually comes from China where archeologists believe that they have proof that hemp fibre used to make rope was used in about 10,000 BC.


Other reference to cannabis appeared during the Han Dynasty – 206 BC to AD 220. And offered advice for many conditions like:

  • constipation,
  • menstrual symptoms,
  • wounds,
  • ulcers,
  • poisoning,
  • rheumatism,
  • nausea, and most importantly in this context – see below where it has been reported that some patients feel nausea.
  • pain.


Looking at this list, and especially at pain, nausea, menstrual symptoms one can see a ‘similarity’ between the needs of ordinary people and our own interest in CBD and cannabis. It is humbling I think to consider that we have been treating pain with cannabis for at least 2000 years and more.




The history of cannabis through the world
Dionysus the Greek god of wine and fertility

Of course, it would have been marijuana (containing the narcotic THC), that would have been used. Other ancient civilizations and societies also used cannabis including India, and Greece. When one reads about Dionysus, the Greek God of wine, pleasure, partying and general wild behavior you can be sure that he would have enjoyed a puff or two of marijuana. The equivalent Roman god was Bacchus.


Cannabis’ Arrival in the US

In the US, cannabis was introduced in the middle of the 19th century through William B. O’Shaughnessy a doctor of Irish descent. It became a very popular tincture where the leaves and buds of the plant were soaked in alcohol. Out in the country, the alcohol of choice I would have guessed, would have been moonshine – mainly because of cost. And you can imagine the effect such a solution could have had on an unsuspecting patient – a thumping great humongous shock, I would have guessed.


About 90 years after it first appeared and because of the low esteem marijuana was held by lawmakers it was delisted from the US National Dispensary. We now know of the marvelous attributes of this quite remarkable plant and researchers bemoan the setback this ruling meant to science.


Shakespeare in Love

A history of cannabis through the world.
Shakespeare in Love. Henslow ‘I don’t know. It’s a mystery’

I should also like to say a few words on narcotics, especially the opiates. And I have done so in a post – please see ‘A history of Opioids and Painkillers’. One can hardly compare them and the relatively humble CBD. I look at my own experience and am astonished that I have achieved such good fortune. Opiates have such enormous power, yet how has the rather small CBD been able to do so much? I remember with pleasure the 1999, seven Academy Award winner, “Shakespeare in Love”. Geoffrey Rush, who plays Henslow and who relies on a standard reply to any number of different questions – it is always, “I don’t know. It’s a mystery.” Exactly my own sentiments.



I have long noticed how effective and informative, in any field, Q&As are. Thus, I shall raise a few pertinent questions and answer them. This site “Restoration – CBD Oil and me” is I believe one of the leading sites of its kind on the WWW, so please if you have a question please ask. Because of their familial relationship, I have included cannabis, CBD and marijuana. Might I add that for anyone interested in the essential marijuana culture, there is no better site than the legendary ‘Leafly‘ site.

  • Aren’t cannabis, CBD, and marijuana the same thing? Yes and no. Marijuana (THC) is very definitely cannabis – what I like to think of as ‘classic’ cannabis. But the cannabis plant used for CBD and perhaps surprisingly, because it looks the same, has had the THC virtually bred out of it, becomes the hemp plant which we now use in this industry. But it remains a cannabis plant nonetheless.
  • What is a cannabinoid? It is a group of compounds, including CBD and THC, found in the cannabis plant.
  • What is cannabidiol (CBD) and how does it work? It is the scientific word for CBD Oil and CBD is the most abundant of all the cannabinoids found in the hemp plant. When ingested, the cannabinoids of which there are at least 113, bind to the receptors of the human endocannabinoid (EC) system. CBD is clearly is a good thing for all of us. It is totally safe and is not narcotic. If you are scientifically inclined, for more on this please read on below in the chapter headed ‘Are cannabidiols and cannabinoids dissimilar compounds?’.
  • So, what is the difference between marijuana and CBD oil? Perhaps we should clear up very quickly the difference between CBD oil and THC. Both are obtained from the cannabis plant and both are cannabinoids. Marijuana is narcotic and CBD is not. By legislation CBD must contain less than 0.03% of TFC.
  • I am quite puzzled by the fact that say that CBD is a good thing for us when the real power in the plant, ie the THC has been bred out of it. Wouldn’t you say that is a fair question? Absolutely, and it’s a jolly good question too. Why I emphasized above that the product is non-narcotic is of great significance because of the reputation that THC has for being a drug with a poor image it has developed over the generations. That CBD can perform, apparently, such astonishing good, without any help from marijuana at all, is totally mind-boggling! I certainly thought so when I first came across CBD and was for a while quite scornful, believing that its reputation for success rested entirely on a placebo effect. How wrong I was.
  • What is THC? Tetrahydrocannabinoil, the scientific word for THC. It is an intoxicant and normally called marijuana or dope.
  • If I use CBD oil copiously will I get zonked? Normally you would not because it is non-narcotic. Please also be aware that in such a burgeoning industry as CBD, that there will be some brands that might say their product is CBD but in fact it may contain > 0.03% of THC – or even some other narcotic consequently it is not CBD and theoretically you could become inebriated. Incidentally, the 0.03% limit is a Federal government limit.
  • If I use CBD will I fail a drug test? Most unlikely – based obviously on the 0.03%. This is my opinion. However, even the purest CBD oil manufacturer would never guarantee you passing a drug test.
  • Can you prove that CBD works? You make it hard for me because, officially, I cannot say yes, even if I believe it does because the federal government ie Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must first accept the efficacy of CBD. However, it has worked spectacularly well for me and I suspect it will work without being certain.
  • A History of cannabis in the world
    US farmland

    Where do you obtain your CBD oil? CBDPure for one gets its product from their fields in Colorado. But it has a world-wide base and there will be some producers who will simply get it from the cheapest source. Take great care and check your supplier.

  • Could CBD oil make me feel sick? There has appeared the occasional report that some people have experienced nausea and/or upset stomach. The nausea I find strange, particularly as CBD is known to cure the condition and has been used for 2000 years to treat nausea. However, I guess there will always be a patient who has a contra-response. An upset stomach is feasible because, as many of we older folk know, as children we were given a spoon of olive oil if we were constipated because it could help. Oil can produce action and CBD is after all, an oil. I suggest if it happens to you, reduce the dose and you will find your body will quickly become accustomed to it.
  • Could I fall ill from ingesting pesticides used by the farmers to spray their crops to discourage bugs from attacking the plant? Of course. An ethical producer would ensure that no pesticides or herbicides are permitted anywhere on the property. There again take great care to check your supplier.
  • A History of cannabis in the world
    Gas Chromatograph

    What is meant by Terpene Analysis? In a full spectrum cannabinoid, terpenes are critically important in its creation. They are identified by using chromatography and are aromatic compounds that give the product its unique scent and taste – but more importantly perhaps, they have a singular effect on the body’s Endocannabiniod System (ECS).

  • What is Residual Solvent Testing? – It identifies the presence of harmful solvents and impurities.
  • How much CBD oil can I take per day? Many people ask me that question and let me answer it immediately – researchers report that 1500 mg can be ingested per day without problem. I personally, considering my somewhat precarious condition, take relatively little every day – at a body weight of 154 pounds or 70 kg, my ordinary dose is 20 mg per day (divided into two doses). However, when pain strikes I do take more, and it helps – up to 60 mg per day. According to my estimates, this, for a relatively light man, is a very strong dose. My strategy is always to try to reduce this quantity as soon as possible. And to be quite honest this is partly because it is expensive.
  • What do you mean by CO2 extraction? CO2 extraction of CBD oil is top of the range, the most effective and incidentally the most expensive method of extraction.
  • You speak of an organic product, can I be assured of your commitment? We live in a world where millions of people now understand the importance of a healthy lifestyle and how that will in turn support a healthy world. However, there remains a small problem associated with claiming a CBD oil as an organic product. That is because the US government through the FDA does not recognize CBD as a food – therefore it cannot officially call itself organic. Nonetheless, a number of top companies do everything that would ordinarily give it the appellation of being classed organic. They definitely walk the extra mile. The fields are tested for toxins, only non-GMO seeds are sown, no pesticides or herbicides are ever used in the fields, fertilizers are natural, harvesting is done mechanically or manually, only CO2 is employed in extraction, and during the bottling process naturally extracted hemp-oil is used.
  • How long can I keep CBD for? Keep it away from light and tightly sealed and in a cool dry spot. I have seen manufacturers instructions that recommend it can be kept for 1 to 2 years.
  • Why is the CBD oil sometimes called a tincture? Tinctures have been made for centuries and traditionally roots, berries or leaves were soaked in alcohol. A traditional cannabis tincture would have been made with buds and or leaves soaked in brandy or whiskey. You can imagine the potency of some of those tinctures!
  • I believe that there are fake brands of CBD oil being sold on the internet, how do I rank them and not be cheated? Sensible question, and I am happy to give you an answer. My homepage, also called ‘The Ultimate Guide to CBD Oil‘ can supply the answer.



Are Cannabidiols (CBD) and Cannabinoids (CB) Dissimilar Compounds?

Many of you will of course know the difference already. CBD is itself a cannabinoid and one of 113 other cannabinoids (please see later under ‘phytocannabinoid’). It is one of two most prolific sources of CB found in cannabis, the other being THC or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, and more commonly known as marijuana. Typically, cannabis grown to source CBD would be called Hemp and cannabis used for THC would be called marijuana. THC is a narcotic and its somewhat plainer cousin is not.


Incidentally, and very importantly please note that CBD and hemp seed oil are two entirely different compounds and the hemp seed shows none of the amazing health benefits that CBD does.


Some other Cannabinoids that have been studied, and remember there are 113 of them, are (please also see next paragraph, ‘phytocannabinioids’) :

  • THC-acid (THCA)
  • CBD-acid (CBDA)
  • Cannabigerol (CBG)
  • Cannabigerolic acid (CBGA)
  • Cannabichromene (CBC)
  • Cannabichromenolic acid (CBCA)
  • Cannabichromevarin (CBCV)
  • Cannabichromevarinolic acid (CBCVA)
  • Cannabidivarin (CBDV)
  • Cannabidivarinolic acid (CBDVA), and
  • Cannabinol (CBN)


You will certainly come into contact with the term phytocannabinoid – normally, I simply call them cannabinoids because they are all plant based from cannabis and the synthetic, laboratory manufactured cannabinoids are excluded.


One hundred and thirteen phytocannabinoids are obtained from the cannabis plant. Including of course, CBN and THC. The phytocannibinoids are in communion and cohere with each other, together with terpenes and flavonoids to give a marvelous source for research and study.


Marijuana News Today

We have had a swift sweep through history looking at cannabis and marijuana. So what does 2020 bring for us? If you have been keeping a tab on legislation you would know that (a) Federal law still regards it as an illegal substance and (b) Eleven States have legislated to make the recreational use of cannabis legal (Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington) and this year a number of others will be working on the legislation: Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Vermont.

Overall this is good news for the entire industry, and here I speak for the CBD industry of course because the relaxation of the laws will, in time, remove entirely the stigma which has for so long been attached to cannabis in the US. Gallup has shown that in 2001 34% of US adults supported the idea of the legalization of marijuana. Eighteen years later, in 2019, the support had mushroomed to 66%.


Developments in the Cannabis Market

The research firm New Frontier Data has forecast that US spending on legal cannabis will grow 25% in 2020 to surpass $18 billion. In a press-release New Frontier Data Founder & CEO Giadha Aguirre de Carcer predicted that the consumption of products like edibles (particularly gummies), sodas and topicals would account for 17% of US spending on legal cannabis. And this popularity has been shown  especially during the COVID-19 lockdown.


What I found central in the report was that quality was of primary importance when making a purchase – whether it was CBD or legal cannabis. This is something I have consistently stressed on this website. In fact New Frontier Data has quantified this importance for consumers at 87%.


Another report, this time from Data Bridge Market Research has estimated that the CBD market’s growth rate from 2020 to 2027 will nearly reach 32%. This is huge and I am sure will spur the principal producers like CBDPure.


All the above is extremely positive, however I received something of a shock on the 15-May-2020 when I read a report, originally from the Los Angeles Times. There it was reported that a 2019 end-of-year audit showed that in California about $8.7 billion was spent on illegal marijuana and only $3.1 billion on legal sales. Quite astonishing. This information was obtained from Medical Marijuana, Inc. News.



I have purposely, because the topic, steered clear of my choice of CBD oil. It is unquestionably CBDPure – should you be interested in learning more, click on the link.

In closing, I shall be very interested in how the relaxation of the laws will affect culture and business in the US. I think the commonsense answer is that marijuana usage will increase as the laws are further relaxed. These recreational users are found, according to research:  30% in accommodation and food services, 28% in the arts, design, entertainment, sports and the media. In production 19 – 21%. This is an important sector because we know how smoking dope does hamper motivation and the US’s strong work ethic has been very important to its achievements down the years.


Research will prosper with the administrations change in focus, particularly with regard to TFC, which has for so long suffered censure. The future looks particularly bright for CBD oil. Just look again at those figures: growth of CBD between 2020 and 2027 reaching nearly 32%!


FDA Disclosure

Please note that the statements above, with reference to CBDPure, marijuana and CBD have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease or condition. Users should not disregard, or delay in obtaining, medical advice for any medical condition they may have, and should seek the assistance of their health care professionals for any such conditions.

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