Recreational marijuana is changing the way future generations experience cannabis. For years cannabis use was seen as a negative activity, with nothing but bad consequences and habits that develop from it. But, this negative stigma of an entirely organic material, which has been here for thousands of years, was only an attitude that developed in the mid-20th century. For thousands of years before American propaganda, cannabis was used throughout the ancient world for its healing and medicinal benefits.
According to Ancient Origins, “The cultivation of cannabis, commonly known as marijuana, can be traced back at least 12,000 years, which places the plant among humanity’s oldest cultivated crops. Cannabis plants are believed to have evolved in Central Asia in the regions of Mongolia and southern Siberia. The earliest cultural evidence of Cannabis comes from the oldest known Neolithic culture in China, the Yangshao, who appeared along the Yellow River valley. From 5,000 to 3,000 B.C the economy of the Yangshao was cannabis-driven.”
The earliest known uses of cannabis were for health benefits and clothing. Thousands of years ago, mankind understood the healing properties associated with cannabis and used it in a variety of ways. Cannabis was used to treat a variety of ailments and was used as an anesthetic to alleviate various types of extreme pain.
During colonial American times, hemp became the plant to grow because of its many uses. “By the late 1800s, cannabis extracts were sold in pharmacies and doctors’ offices throughout Europe and the United States to treat stomach problems and other ailments,” says History’s article titled “History of Marijuana.”
PBS’ “Marijuana Timeline” shows that in the early 1900’s the recreational use of the marijuana leaf was introduced to the U.S., and by the 1930’s there was “research which linked the use of marijuana with violence, crime and other socially deviant behaviors, primarily committed by “racially inferior” or underclass communities,” causing states to begin to outlaw cannabis. This would lead to the criminalization of marijuana. In 1971 President Nixon declared the “war on drugs,” and he “increased the size and presence of federal drug control agencies, and pushed through measures such as mandatory sentencing and no-knock warrants.” He went on to reject the recommendation to decriminalize marijuana possession and distribution for personal use in 1972.
Today, these health benefits are being rediscovered in large part because of a new attitude that has developed regarding the plant. Cannabis once again is at the medical forefront in regard to pain relief and other effects of various diseases, and assistance with mental health problems. With future funding and research, many health benefits, that up until recently were illegal to research, can be discovered and used for the health and overall well-being of mankind.