Cannabis is considered by historians to likely be the first crop ever cultivated by man at least 12,000 years ago.
Humans realized that cannabis has many uses including as food, for building materials, for textiles and rope, for paper, as an intoxicant and as a medicine.
Archeological records have revealed cannabis usage 10,000 years ago in Japan and medical usage 5,000 years ago in China. By the first century CE over 100 medical conditions were incorporated into the first Chinese pharmacopeia.
Historical records also reveal medical use in Egypt, Greece and India for 3,500 years. Indeed the Persians ranked cannabis as the most important of all known medical plants. It was considered a sacred plant in Hinduism, Zoroastrianism and Buddhism.
Cannabis use expanded across the world and by the 17th century was recorded in medical books as useful for depression and as an anti-inflammatory.
A great leap forward was instigated by physician Sir William O’Shaughnessy who travelled to India in 1833 and conducted extensive research and trials on both animals and humans. Patients suffering from a vast range of conditions were treated including cholera, tetanus, rheumatism and infant convulsions.
Cannabis was then studied as a medicine in Britain for the next 50 years. In 1890 Dr J.R. Reynolds, Queen Victoria’s personal physician, wrote in The Lancet ‘In almost all painful maladies I have found Indian hemp by far the most useful of drugs’.
Author and historian Chris Rice in his book ‘Cannabis: A Lost History’ described cannabis as “an integral part of human civilization”.