In 1997, a hemp rope dating back to 26,900 BC was found in Czechoslovakia, making it the oldest known object to be associated with cannabis. Since that time, hemp has played an important role in humanity’s development. For thousands of years marijuana was not only legal, but an important crop among cultures throughout history, and held commercial, medicinal, and spiritual value.
The cultivation of cannabis, commonly known as marijuana, can be traced back at least 12,000 years, which places the plant among humanity’s oldest cultivated crops. Cannabis plants are believed to have evolved in Central Asia in the regions of Mongolia and southern Siberia. The earliest cultural evidence of Cannabis comes from the oldest known Neolithic culture in China, the Yangshao, who appeared along the Yellow River valley. From 5,000 to 3,000 B.C the economy of the Yangshao was cannabis-driven. Archaeological evidence shows they wore hemp clothing, wove hemp, and produced hemp pottery.
The first recorded use of marijuana as a medicinal drug occurred in 2737 BC by the Chinese emperor Shen Nung. He documented the drug’s effectiveness in treating the pains of rheumatism and gout. Both hemp and psychoactive marijuana were widely used in ancient China.
The ancient Chinese used virtually every part of the Cannabis plant: the root for medicine; the stem for textiles, rope and paper making; the leaves and flowers for intoxication and medicine; and the seeds for food and oil. Cannabis seeds were also one of the grains of early China and ancient tombs of China had sacrificial vessels filled with hemp for the afterlife.The first medical journals in China were made of hemp and eventually it came to replace papyrus as the source of paper that eventually fostered the spread of written knowledge. It was used to record the deeds of history, eventually replacing clay tablets and expensive silk to be read by everyone.
From China, coastal farmers took marijuana to Korea around 2000 B.C. or earlier. It reached India between 2000 B.C. and 1000 B.C. , when the region was invaded by the Aryans, a group that spoke an archaic Indo-European language. They called cannabis “bhang.” In India, the Aryan religion grew through oral tradition and was recorded in the four Vedas, or books of knowledge compiled between 1400 and 1000 B.C. They worshipped the spirits of plants and animals, and marijuana played an active role in their rituals. Like the Chinese, the people of India have a long history of using hemp in their clothing and medicine.