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Marijuana: Since 8000-5000 BC

Marijuana use can be traced as far back as the Neolithic era (8,000-5,000 BC), where charred remains of cannabis seeds have been unearthed in ancient braziers of present day Romania.  

Evidence of marijuana cultivation reaches back as far as 2737 B.C. China, where it was used as a treatment for rheumatism, malaria, and absent-mindedness.

It was used recreationally in India as far back as 1000 B.C.

The Spanish brought cannabis to America in 1545, and the English arrived with it in Jamestown in 1611, where it became a major commercial crop, which eventually was replaced by cotton.  Marijuana was a principal crop at Mount Vernon and a secondary crop at Monticello.  It was primarily grown for use as hemp rope, but there is some evidence that they were aware of its hallucinogenic properties as well.

National Geographic: Inside Marijuana

National Geographic: Inside Marijuana

US History

Also see History of Cannabis and United States History of Cannabis

Both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were known to grow Cannabis on their plantations in the 1700s, most likely for the production of hemp.

Medicinal marijuana is currently legal in several states in the United States and the law is changing constantly. However, According to federal law, marijuana use is illegal regardless of whether it’s used medicinally.

Medical Marijuana

Marijuana is used medicinally to fight chronic pain, spasticity from multiple sclerosis, nausea and vomiting in HIV patients, as well as the nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy.

THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the principal psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. The potency of THC in marijuana determines the strength of the substance.

THC is stored in fatty tissues in the body, including the brain.

The most potent form of marijuana is called sinsimilla, and is produced by preventing the female plant from being pollinated. This keeps the plant seedless to produce a high resin content, allowing for a higher content of THC.

In one Harvard University study, THC was found to cut tumor growth in common lung cancer in half and reduce the ability of the cancer to spread. However, the researchers in that same caution that other animal studies have shown that THC can actually stimulate some other cancers

Culture

Rastafarianism, a religious movement originating in Jamaica, considers cannabis a divine herb. They believe the smoking of marijuana is sanctioned in the bible and is essential for spiritual enlightenment.

Around the world, people celebrate April 20, or 4:20, also celebrated as International Weed Day, or time of day.  There are many stories behind the origin of the number.  More: Why We Celebrate 420

Illegal Marijuana

According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in America.

According to the Department of Justice, the principle source of foreign-produced marijuana in the U.S. is from Mexico. However, production appears also to be on the rise in Canada and domestically in the U.S.

According to the FBI, 800,000 people were arrested on marijuana charges in 2006 in the United States. Nearly 90% of these arrests were for marijuana possession.

A 1999 report published by the Federation of American Scientists found that U.S. taxpayers paid on average $1.2 billion to support the almost 60,000 people incarcerated for marijuana charges. The number of arrests was higher in 2006 than it was in 1999, so the cost is probably even greater currently.

According to a 2008 report by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the average THC level in recently confiscated marijuana samples has reached a new high of 9.6 percent. This is more than double the average potency of 4 percent in 1983.

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