The First Use of Cannabis for Psychoactive Benefits

April 22, 2013 in Trivia

Marijuana BudsAccording to Humboldt Homegrown, research shows cannabis to be the most frequently searched term worldwide. Measures may be debatable, but it should be no surprise that a Wiki tour should delve deeply into the history of cannabis.

Cannabis use extends worldwide back through ancient and biblical times. Archaeological evidence suggests at least several ancient civilizations used cannabis for ritualistic purposes ─ going as far back as several millennia.

Evidence of inhalation of cannabis smoke ─ an artificial brazier containing charred cannabis seeds dating to the third millennium B.C. ─ was found in an ancient burial site in what now is Romania, according to Richard Rudgley in “Lost Civilisations of the Stone Age”.

A 2500 to 2800 year old mummy was found in the Xinjiang region of China with a leather basket filled with cannabis leaf fragments and seeds, as detailed in the People’s Daily Online and Hong-En Jiang, et al. in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology.

Rudgley reports in The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Substances that Hindus in India and in Nepal are known to have used cannabis in ancient times. They referred to cannabis as ganjika in Sanskrit language. References to the drug soma in the Vedas has sometimes been associated with cannabis.

Ancient Assyrians became familiar with cannabis from the Aryans, who also introduced the Scythians, Tracians and Dacians to the substance. Ceremonial practices involving the eating of hemp seeds by the Scythians between the fifth and second centuries B.C. were indicated by archaeological finds at Pazyrk according to Barry W. Cunliffe in the The Oxford Illustrated History of Prehistoric Europe. Ibn Taymiyya reported in “Le haschich et l’extase” cannabis was used by Muslims in certain Sufi orders as far back as the Mamluk period – for example by the Qalandars.

Even certain Biblical scriptures refer to religious practices in which both ancient Jews and early Christians used oils (or ointments for healing) derived from “qannabbos”, or “qené bósem” (“aromatic cane”). These terms are variously identified as cannabis or hemp by linguistic scholars.

According to author Chris Bennett of Cannabis Culture, “The ancient recipe for this anointing oil, recorded in the Old Testament book of Exodus (30: 22-23) included over nine pounds of flowering cannabis tops, Hebrew ‘kaneh-bosm’, extracted into a hind (about 6.5 litres) of olive oil, along with a variety of other herbs and spices. The ancient chosen ones were literally drenched in this potent cannabis holy oil.”

Bennett notes that “the ‘m’ is a pronounced plural, and the singular kaneh-bos sounds remarkably similar to the modern cannabis. Although often mistranslated as ‘calamus’, the word has been translated as ‘fragrant-cane’ in most modern bibles, and specifically designates the fragrant flowering tops of cannabis.”