My main man, AJ, is into that green business and he makes a pretty nice profit for himself. As much as weed has been in the news lately, I discovered that I really didn’t know shit about the drug, aside from the usual stuff you’re fed in school through those D.A.R.E. programs (if you grew up in the 90’s I’m sure you’re aware of those antidrug initiatives). Or, from the musings of a friend who’s high as hell and waxing philosophical about the ills of the world and how if every world leader smoked one, a lot of problems would get solved.
So, I decided to look some shit up on this divisive little plant. However, I wasn’t interested in the mundane discussions on its medicinal purposes (although I do sprinkle some in the end) or how it’s a gateway drug that will have you itching for that next hit of rock outside that seedy downtown spot (which is probably gentrified by now if you live in Atlanta). Nor did I want to go into details about how although weed usage is even across the races, blacks are disproportionally imprisoned due to weed possession (aside from being outright sad and ridiculous, that also deserves a post all of its own). I wanted to dig for some other facts ( as much as my 2 a.m. brain will allow me). Therefore, after cutting through most of the mainstream malarkey, I discovered 10 interesting things about cannabis:
- Hemp is not marijuana. Cannabis stiva (weed) and cannabis stavia L. (hemp) are two entirely different things. The former contains the psychoactive compound THC, the latter does not. There are also many other strands of cannabis that also contain other psychoactive properties aside from the THC we’re familiar with.
- Cannabis has been around awhile. It is believed to date back to Central/South Asia around 12,000 – 10,000 years ago. For instance, cordage made of hemp found in ancient pottery in Taiwan suggests that cannabis was one of the oldest known human agriculture crops. Chinese records document various ways hemp and weed were cultivated and used throughout the centuries.
- Cannabis wasn’t always illegal. In fact, it wasn’t until around 1906 that the U.S. began cracking down on the cultivation of cannabis. Prior to that, King James I mandated that hemp be grown as one of the crops in the Virginia colony mainly for textile purposes. Many oils and serums made of hemp were marketed as medicines. However, due to charlatans mixing harmful ingredients into their hemp-based medicines and conservative social mores driving legislation, The Pure Food and Drug Act (1906) was born and deemed cannabis oil a “poison” thus increasing regulation of it. This law preceded the Marijuana Tax Act (1937), which made the possession or transfer of cannabis illegal throughout the U.S. under federal law excluding medical and industrial use. Of course those exclusions were levied heavily. By the 1950’s and onward, the laws around the criminalization of cannabis usage got even tougher.
- In the U.S., cannabis is classified as a Schedule 1 substance. Apparently that means it’s in the same classification as heroine and LSD. Damn.
- According to some theories, xenophobia helped to criminalize cannabis in the U.S. Interesting on so many different levels. According to an article from NPR citing a 1994 Atlantic article, “Cannabis was outlawed because various powerful interests (some of which have economic motives to suppress hemp production) were able to craft it into a bogeyman in the popular imagination, by spreading tales of homicidal mania touched off by consumption of the dreaded Mexican ‘locoweed.’ Fear of brown people combined with fear of nightmare drugs used by brown people to produce a wave of public action against the ‘marijuana menace.’ That combo led to restrictions in state after state, ultimately resulting in federal prohibition.” Now this was during the early 20th century. What’s most amazing to me about this quote from NPR is how corporate interests played on the fears of the American populace. Arguably, corporations and other interests groups currently employ these same tactics. As far as the xenophobia, the more things change, the more the stay the same. Once again, this deserves a post all of its own.
- How did we get the term ganja? Put your lighters up and wave your ganja in the air.I’ve heard the term ganja in many dancehall songs and automatically thought it was Jamaican slang for weed. Well, that’s partially true. However, ganja derives from the Sanskrit word ganjika. In Hinduism, ganja is associated with the god Shiva.
- Even influential minds smoke that Kush. Shakespeare was one of them. While he probably didn’t smoke the Kush strand specifically, an archaeological dig did find pipes from Shakespeare’s garden that contained trace amounts of cannabis. I was surprised to know that even Oprah admitted to smoking it once upon a time.
- In the U.S., cannabis ranks number 4 in crop value. At least according to some estimates. It’s kind of hard to track that since it’s illegal on the federal level. In some estimates, cannabis ranks as number 1 or 2 in California, New York, and Florida.
- Cannabis is delicious. People eat it, including yours truly. And no, I’m not talking about those special brownies your homeboy made when you were in college causing you to have that God awful trip. I’m talking about products such as hemp milk, (I use the unsweetened Vanilla flavor in my protein shakes) hemp seeds (which are high in Omegas 3 and 6), and other edibles that don’t contain THC.
- “Marijuana” is not the spelled the same in Spanish. Hmm. This probably isn’t that interesting to most people, but since I took Spanish throughout middle and high school and was a Spanish major once upon a time, I find this interesting. In Spanish, it’s spelled “marihuana.” How did the anglicized version morph that “h” into a “j?”
So, that about sums up my 2 a.m. ramblings on random weed, sorry, cannabis related stuff. As always, I’d love to hear from you. Do you know any other good factoids about cannabis or do you have any good weed related stories? Leave them in the comments below or find me on social media.
- Live Science. http://www.livescience.com/48337-marijuana-history-how-cannabis-travelled-world.html
- Advanced Holistic Health. http://www.advancedholistichealth.org/history.html
- Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannabis_(drug)
- Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannabis_foods
- NPR. http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2013/07/14/201981025/the-mysterious-history-of-marijuana
- DEA Museum. http://www.deamuseum.org/ccp/cannabis/history.html
- Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_history_of_cannabis_in_the_United_States