The History of Cannabis

The History of Cannabis

We see a lot of cannabis here at Circa 1818. We pride ourselves on having a varied, top shelf selection of marijuana products on our shelves and as a result, we have learned a lot about what goes into making high quality weed. This knowledge has been useful in bringing you, our customer and community, informed advice when it comes to finding a product you love. It has also made us consider the origins and history of cannabis and why humans have such a unique relationship with it. So, kick back, spark up a joint and join me as I pull back the curtains on how cannabis in its current form came to be and what our connection to it means.

In the beginning…

As with most ancient origin stories, this beginnings of cannabis as a plant are shrouded in a fine mist of time and myth. Scientists posit that it first popped its hazy head up a few million years before humanity did our evolutionary hop skip into the civilized beasts we’ve become. The earliest records of human use of cannabis possibly dates back to 8000 BCE, so it didn’t take us long to start seeing the benefits of the consumption and use of this funny little plant. It was valued then (as it is now) for its inherent medicinal value, as well as the functionality of its hemp fibers in the construction of everything from rope to clothing. Of course, it was also valued by early humanity for it’s recreational use because sometimes it’s nice to get a little high when you’re hiding from hungry sabretooth tigers.

The great migration

While cannabis as a plant has appeared across the globe in various forms, its earliest recorded use appears to have been in countries in Asia. Archeological evidence has pointed to it being used by Neolithic (fancy word for super old timey) humans in areas of Japan as well as mainland China and India. Many of the early used of cannabis were not only medicinal and recreational but also ceremonial, particularly in India where the God Shiva has often been associated with cannabis. The history of cannabis past this point largely becomes the history of humanity itself; with its movements predicated on the migratory or transitionary movements of ancient humans as they mingled and made war with everything and everyone around them. After a few thousand years, it had made its way far enough west to end up in popping up in early Judaic religious practices, where it was used in an oil form as a means of anointing spiritually important figures. From there cannabis continued to spread, propagate and most importantly, change. People discovered that while it existed in many forms throughout the known world if they planted it in new types of soil it would often take on different properties. This is true for many of Earths plant species, but particularly true of cannabis. Thus began the long and storied history of humans toying with the genetics of cannabis.

The rest as they say…

From there, the history of cannabis becomes even more tightly wound with the shifts of human culture. It continued to be used for religious, medicinal, and recreational purposes for the next couple thousand years until the early 20th century, when it was vilified by those who wanted to control and minimize its impact in order to profit off of less universal, more synthetic medications and substances. The transition from mendicant to public enemy happened stunningly fast, particularly in western culture where it swiftly became a cultural boogeyman equated with other, harder, and more harmful narcotics. It is only recently that we’ve seen a refocus on the benefits of marijuana, which has resulted in changing laws and a renewed acceptance of this ancient flower as a purposeful and effective means of not only potentially treating a myriad of health issues but also as a tool for improving our overall wellbeing.


Want to explore more of cannabis’ history? Try some landrace strains like Hindu Kush! These are strains of cannabis that are endemic to certain specific regions and are the closest you can get to the stuff our ancestors were consuming.


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