Cannabis has a rich and full history which until only recently has been unencumbered by prohibition. Being the only plant to provide both fiber and medicine, cannabis has been in use for thousands of years. The Chinese were the first to document its medicinal properties in the year 2737 B.C., well after it had been established as fiber for making ropes and clothing. It has been proposed that cannabis was among, if not the first, plant grown by humankind as early as 8000 B.C., when the world transitioned from the final stages of the last ice age into an initial era of planned agriculture.
During the 16th Century B.C., ancient Greeks pioneered cannabis vaporization techniques. They discovered that by placing dried plants onto hot stones in enclosed steam rooms, the intoxicating and medicinal vapors could be released and inhaled. These techniques were similar to rituals found in cultures where people would meet around a fire, toss cannabis into the roaring flames, and sing and dance.
Although it is unknown exactly when cannabis arrived in Europe, unearthed artifacts have found the plant being in use as early as 500 B.C. and it’s popularity in the region growing steadily from the 13th Century A.D. and onward. However its use in South Africa for medicinal and nutritional purposes far outdates European settlements. Pregnant women used to smoke cannabis before birth and it was also cooked into breads for nutritional fortification.
Cannabis is ranked fourth among most popular mind altering substances, trailing just behind caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol. The United Nations estimates that there are between 200 and 250 million cannabis users worldwide. The prohibition of cannabis within the United States has existed only within the past century, with the anti-cannabis campaigns being heavily funded by certain companies within the United States