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We all love cannabis. How many people can boost of knowing the history of marijuana?
Cannabis has been used across the world for ages . Most reports date back to it originating from Asia before spreading to other parts of the world.”For the most part, it was widely used for medicine and spiritual purposes,” during pre-modern times, said Warf, a professor of geography at the University of Kansas in Lawrence.
It is important to distinguish between the two familiar subspecies of the cannabis plant, Warf said. Cannabis sativa, known as marijuana, has psychoactive properties. The other plant is Cannabis sativa L. (The L was included in the name in honor of the botanist Carl Linnaeus.) This subspecies is known as hemp; it is a nonpsychoactive form of cannabis, and is used in manufacturing products such as oil, cloth and fuel. [11 Odd Facts About Marijuana]
Cannabis likely spread across exchange routes along the early Silk Road
The THC-containing residues were extracted from burners from a cemetery known as Jirzankal in the remote Pamir Mountains. Some of the skeletons recovered from the site, situated in modern-day western China, have features that resemble those of contemporaneous peoples further west in Central Asia. Objects found in the burials also appear to link this population to peoples further west in the mountain foothills of Inner Asia. Additionally, stable isotope studies on the human bones from the cemetery show that not all of the people buried there grew up locally.
These data fit with the notion that the high-elevation mountain passes of Central and Eastern Asia played a key role in early trans-Eurasian exchange. Indeed, the Pamir region, today so remote, may once have sat astride a key ancient trade route of the early Silk Road. The Silk Road was at certain times in the past the single most important vector for cultural spread in the ancient world. Robert Spengler, the lead archaeobotanist for the study, also at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, explains, “The exchange routes of the early Silk Road functioned more like the spokes of a wagon wheel than a long-distance road, placing Central Asia at the heart of the ancient world. Our study implies that knowledge of cannabis smoking and specific high-chemical-producing varieties of the cannabis plant were among the cultural traditions that spread along these exchange routes.”
Cannabis refers to a group of three plants with psychoactive properties, known as Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis.
When the flowers of these plants are harvested and dried, you’re left with one of the most common drugs in the world. Some call it weed, some call it pot, and others call it marijuana.
As weed becomes legal in more areas, names for it are evolving. Today, more and more people are using the term cannabis to refer to weed.
Some argue that it’s a more accurate name. Others feel it’s more neutral compared with terms like weed or pot, which some people associate with its illegal use. Also, the term “marijuana” is falling out of favor due to its racist history.
Cannabis is usually consumed for its relaxing and calming effects. In some U.S. states, it’s also prescribed to help with a range of medical conditions, including chronic pain, glaucoma, and poor appetite.
Keep in mind that while cannabis comes from a plant and is considered natural, it can still have strong effects, both positive and negative.
Cannabis is made up of more than 120 components, which are known as cannabinoids. Experts still aren’t sure what each cannabinoid does, but they have a pretty good understanding of two of them, known as cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Each has its own effects and uses:
- CBD. This is a psychoactive cannabinoid, yet it’s non-intoxicating and non-euphoric, meaning it won’t get you “high.” It’s often used to help reduce inflammation and pain. It may also ease nausea, migraine, seizures, and anxiety. (Epidiolex is the first and only prescription medication to contain CBD and be approved by the Food and Drug Administration, or FDA. This medication is used to treat certain kinds of epilepsy.) Researchers are still trying to fully understand the effectiveness of CBD’s medical use.
- THC. This is the main psychoactive compound in cannabis. THC is responsible for the “high” that most people associate with cannabis.
You can find cannabis products that contain just CBD, THC, or a combination of both. But the dried flower that most people associate with cannabis contains both cannabinoids, though certain strains may have much more of one than the other. Hemp has large quantities of CBD, but no THC.
Using cannabis can have a range of short-term effects. Some are beneficial, but others are more concerning.
Some of the more desirable short-term effects include:
- experiencing things around you, such as sights and sounds, more intensely
- increased appetite
- altered perception of time and events
- focus and creativity
These effects are often minimal in products containing very high levels of CBD, compared with THC.
But cannabis can also have some problematic side effects for certain people. Side effects may include:
- coordination issues
- delayed reaction time
- increased heart rate
- decreased blood pressure
Again, these effects are less common in products containing more CBD than THC.
The short-term effects of cannabis can also vary based on your method of consumption. If you smoke cannabis, you’ll feel the effects within minutes. But if you orally ingest cannabis, such as in a capsule or food, it may be several hours before you feel anything.
In addition, cannabis often comes in different strains. These are loose categories used to indicate the effects of different cannabis products. Here’s a primer on some common strains and their potential effects.
Experts are still trying to fully understand the long-term effects of using cannabis. There’s lots of conflicting research on this topic, and many of the existing studies have only looked at animals.
Many more large, long-term studies in humans are needed to fully understand the lasting effects of cannabis use.