A Brief History

The earliest record of man’s use of cannabis comes from the island of Taiwan located off the coast of mainland China. In this densely populated part of the world, archaeologists have unearthed an ancient village site dating back over 10,000 years to the Stone Age.

Scattered among the trash and debris from this prehistoric community were some broken pieces of pottery the sides of which had been decorated by pressing strips of cord into the wet clay before it hardened. Also dispersed among the pottery fragments were some elongated rod-shaped tools, very similar in appearance to those later used to loosen cannabis fibers from their stems. These simple pots, with their patterns of twisted fiber embedded in their sides, suggest that humans have been using the marijuana plant in some manner since the dawn of history. Ancient Chinese manuscripts are filled with passages urging the people to plant hemp so that they will have clothes. During the course of its long history in China, hemp found its way into almost every nook and cranny of Chinese life. It clothed the Chinese from their heads to their feet, it gave them material to write on, and it became a symbol of power over evil.

Although the Chinese continued to rely on magic in the fight against disease, they also gradually developed an appreciation and knowledge of the curative powers of medicines. The person who is generally credited with teaching the Chinese about medicines and their actions is a legendary emperor, Shen-Nung, who lived around the twenty-eighth century B.C.

Abel, Ernest L. (1980). “Cannabis in the Ancient World”
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