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How Long Have Humans Used Cannabis?

cannabis plant

The cannabis plant is arguably the most versatile plant on earth and humans have a long history of harnessing its properties for a myriad of purposes. That fact is at the heart of a recent paper published in the European Journal for Chemistry, as first reported by Marijuana Moment.

At the core of the research paper is the history of humankind’s contact with the cannabis plant and how humans have used parts of it as a source of fiber for things such as rope and clothing, for medical and wellness benefits, as part of religious practices, and for recreational use. Few, if any, other plants can boast such a wide array of uses.

“Along with rice, soy, barley, and millet, Cannabis is considered one of the five main grains by ancient people. The seeds found in Cannabis achenes, rich in proteins (such as albumin and edestin) and essential unsaturated fatty acids (such as linoleic and linolenic acids) served as food, input for other culinary purposes, and even soap production.” the paper’s authors stated.

Hemp-based nutrition products, including products designed for elite athletes, are very popular today, particularly protein products. During the 1900s the cannabis plant was subjected to a significant amount of negative propaganda, and as a result, many members of society falsely assumed that it was bad for human health. That perception has evolved a lot in recent years.

“To exemplify the long co-existence with hemp, ancestral archaeological relics date the use of this plant fiber as a fabric to approximately 8000 years before the common era (BCE) as a
material in ancient Mesopotamia (present-day Iran and Iraq), and to 4000 years BCE and 3000 years BCE as a material for ropes in China and Kazakhstan, respectively. Impressively, until
the beginning of the nineteenth century, it was estimated that around 80% of fabrics, candles, ropes, among other items, were produced from hemp.” the paper’s authors pointed out.

Using the cannabis plant’s fibers for textiles is not as common now as it was in previous eras, however, as more products are made from extracting cannabinoids from cannabis plants innovators are exploring ways to maximize the use of the fiber tissue left behind. In addition to using plant fiber for textiles, they can also be used as biomass fuel.

“Used for millennia as a food, fiber production and religious, therapeutic, and recreational instrument, a source of phytocompounds with proven efficacy for clinical conditions of difficult management, its planting, cultivation, use and acquisition are today prohibited – even for researchers who intend to work with this plant! – in the vast majority of countries. Recent efforts try to decriminalize the use of the drug and to expand the medical use and access to patients of Cannabis-based drugs through legislation, but despite successes around the world, it still finds its hindrances.” the paper’s authors stated.

“Cannabis is perhaps one of the greatest controversies in contemporary humanity.” the authors concluded.