The use of marijuana or cannabis has a long history starting in southern Asia. Societies around the world have used one form or another of preparations made of the cannabis plant since the third millennium BC. In fact, it may be the most widely enjoyed illicit substance in the world. The drug was not really criminalized by many countries until the early twentieth century. This substance has been used by people around the world for centuries as a recreational psychoactive drug and as a medical remedy.
The parts of the cannabis plant that are used in preparations are the flowers, stalks, and leaves. These cannabis preparations can take many forms including dried leaves and flowers that can be smoked or used in baking, compressed hash, powdered kief, concentrates, shatter cakes, oils, waxes, and other forms. The cannabis plant also can produce hemp fiber which can be used for rope, animal bedding, construction material, fabrics, and clothing. Marijuana can also be made into medicinal forms.
Cannabis is believed to have originated in central and southern Asia. Remnants of cannabis plants have been found in ancient burial sites from the third millennium BC in Romania and with a Chinese mummy over 2,500 years old. The ancient people in India and Nepal called it gankika or ganja. The Assyrians, Greeks, and people in Turkey also used this substance in religious ceremonies. The Scythians, ancient Jews, early Christians, and Sufi Muslims are believed to have used cannabis in their ceremonies. More recently, Shakespeare was known to refer to the use of marijuana in his Sonnet 27 and Sonnet 76.
These substances were not illegal in historic times but began to be criminalized in the early 20th century. The United States began restricting the use and sale of marijuana in 1906, South Africa in 1911, Jamaica followed in 1913, and the United Kingdom, Canada, and New Zealand passed restrictions in the early 1920s. By the end of the 20th century, most of the world had made the use of cannabis as a drug illegal. In the 21st century, the pendulum is beginning to swing back to the less restricted use of cannabis for personal and medical use. For more information, visit the website.