Marijuana, a plant that has spanned millennia of history, is now celebrated and discussed in equal measure. The one we are discussing today is light cannabis, a variety of hemp with low levels of THC, the psychotropic substance, but rich in CBD, the cannabinoid renowned for its alleged health benefits.
This combination of properties is the result of scientific advances in genetic crossbreeding, a luxury that ancient societies probably could not afford.
The Asian Roots of Cannabis
The origins of cannabis are intertwined with Asian soil, where, in the Neolithic period, the plant began to peep into human history. In 3000 B.C., burned seeds were found in Central Asia and in caves in Romania, marking the first traces of human use.
Peoples such as the Assyrians, Chinese, Aryans and Greeks, each in their own way, contributed to the history of cannabis. Herodotus mentioned the Scythians and their use of the plant, while other Mediterranean civilizations burned it for its intoxicating scents.
Initially, cannabis was valued for its fibers, used in the production of textiles and even in the sails of Phoenician ships.
The Discovery of Psychotropic Effects.
Awareness of the psychotropic effects of cannabis is making its way into history thanks to an intriguing study conducted by Robert Spengler and the Chinese Academy of Science. Analyzing incense burners dating back to 500 B.C. found in China, they discovered traces of high-THC cannabis. It is believed that this cannabis was used for religious purposes, perhaps to communicate with the dead.
This awareness of psychoactive effects dates back some 2,500 years, opening a window into ancient spiritual practices related to cannabis.
Cannabis in Europe: A History of Trade and Cultivation
Cannabis traveled through the Silk Road trade routes, reaching Europe through the Italian Maritime Republics. Its cultivation spread due to the favorable climate and versatility of European soil.
Cannabis was not only textile; the Gutenberg Bible, the first printed book in Europe, was made on hemp paper. In the 20th century, Henry Ford experimented with cars partially constructed of hemp fiber, highlighting the plant’s potential in multiple areas.
Prohibition: When Economic Interests Changed History.
Cannabis prohibition, mainly in the United States, was driven by economic interests. The Hearst chain, a supplier of wood paper, demonized cannabis to pave the way for the new wood paper. The term “marijuana” was born with negative connotations, fueling a hysteria that led to the first law against cannabis in 1937.
The history of cannabis is steeped in change and manipulation, often driven by economic motivations. However, as public opinion evolves, many countries are reopening their doors to cannabis, recognizing its ecological potential and the “light” variety.
In Italy, the situation is still evolving, with the need for clear legislation that balances the safety of consumers and workers involved in the production of cannabis light.
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