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Written By: Emily Spring
Cannabis is one of the earliest domesticated and fastest growing crops, yet, there is still a lot to learn about the legendary plant. From ancient times to modern day, the plant has a long history including some quite surprising information. We've got facts about cannabis covered.
It was only right to compile a list for those (novices and experienced alike) who wish to know more. We think you will find them pretty cool or perhaps, even eye-opening. Without further ado, here are 13 interesting facts about cannabis that will leave you mind-blown.
1. Shakespeare May Have Smoked Cannabis
Was Shakespeare high while creating some of his greatest works? Well, a few South African scientists seem to think so. In a forensic laboratory at South Africa’s University of the Witwatersrand, 24 clay tobacco pipes dating back to the 17th century were excavated from Shakespeare’s garden near Stratford-upon-Avon, England. According to the scientists who examined the fragments, several of them contained trace amounts of cannabis, including nicotine.
While these findings don’t prove that the renowned poet and playwright consumed cannabis or even that the pipes were his actual property, this fascinating discovery has led many to speculate nonetheless.
2. Cannabis and Beer are Botanical Cousins
Among the many other plants in nature, there’s no genetic relationship closer than that of hops and cannabis. These two plants are members of the same botanical family of flowering plants called cannabaceae. While there are no cannabinoids contained in hops, further research shows that their similarities go well beyond how they look and feel.
Similarly to cannabis, hops like Humulus or H. lupulus is one of the most notable relatives and contains fibrous stems full of terpenes, such as myrcene and beta-pinene. This could explain why U.S. brewers have recently been adding cannabis flower to the beer-making process, which, might we add has proven that these two plants make quite a tasty combination.
3. Cannabis Use In Italy Legal For Rasta
That’s right. Rastafarians have been granted legal recourse of smoking cannabis in Italy. Followers of the Rastafari religion use cannabis during their meditation sessions. As the story goes, in 2004, a Rastafarian man was nearly sentenced to 4 months in prison plus a €4,000 fine for having 8 grams of cannabis in his possession and a further 50 grams at his home. However, his lawyer successfully argued that cannabis consumption was a sacrament to his defendants religion. The verdict? The high court enabled the approval for Rastas to consume the herb.
Although current laws fail to recognize the Rastafari religion (originating in Jamaica somewhere in the 1930’s) it’s classified as not only a religious movement, but a social one as well. Jah bless!
4. First E-commerce Transaction Was Cannabis
From clothing and food to apocalypse survival kits and spyware, today, the possibilities are seemingly endless for online shopping. But, do you know the first thing that was sold on the world wide web? According to several researchers, cannabis.
Rumor has it, students from the Standford University of California bought a tiny amount of cannabis from their counterparts at MIT using their Arpanet account (an early form of the internet) in the university’s AI lab --- and, this interesting transaction isn’t a secret. Apparently, in 2005 journalist John Markoff also mentioned this kief-covered e-commerce story in his book, claiming it took place in the 1970s.
5. Icelanders Are World’s Biggest Cannabis Lovers
Probably surprising, but Iceland has the largest population of cannabis consumers. Statistics in a report provided by the United Nations showed that Iceland is ahead of the United States, Jamaica, and Holland in 2014. In numbers, that’s a whopping 18.3% of the population who light up.
The crazy thing is, cannabis is illegal in the cold country, but somehow is tolerated with people consuming or in possession of a small amount. You only receive a fine. It's unclear why the plant is so popular there -- perhaps the fact that alcohol was legalized 25 years ago. Whatever the case, it’s consumption can be pretty expensive considering current law.
6. There’s A Doomsday Cannabis Seed Vault Don’t panic -- cannabis will survive the apocalypse, even if you don’t. To avoid the permanent loss of all that we rely on for food and medicine, an insulated underground doomsday safe keep called the Svalbard Global Seed Vault is preserving a large variety of plant seeds located in Arctic Svalbard archipelago
Apart from thousands of other seeds, more than 21,500 cannabis seeds originating from at least 17 countries are being held. The selection of its location was based on its permafrost and lack of tectonic activity, which means plant seeds will stay safe and cool, even during a power failure or catastrophic events.
7. Uruguay Was First To Fully Legalize Cannabis
When it comes to narcotics, Uruguay has always been pretty liberal. Prior to 1974, there wasn’t a single law in place for punishing those in possession of narcotics. Which may explain why in 2013, it became the first nation in the world to completely legalize cannabis — that includes the growing, selling and consumption of the plant. And not too long after, the government announced residents we allowed to grow up to six plants at home. What’s even more? The state would soley control Cannabis dispensaries.
The catch 22 is, though, in Uruguay you can't purchase cannabis unless you’re a citizen of the country. Oh, us poor foreigners.
8. Oldest Cannabis Stash Found In Ancient Tomb
Finding valuables from ancient ruins is always cool, especially when it has to with cannabis. In 2008, researchers found in the burial of a Chinese tomb what cannathusiasts might consider a treasure trove.
In it, contained a bowl of 28 ounces (789 grams) of cannabis sativa dating back somewhere around 2,700 years ago. According to researchers, the dry desert conditions preserved the green tint, but not the plant's distinct smell. Also revealed in the plant matter were other chemical compounds including cannabidiol (CBD), cannabichromene (CBC), and cannabicyclol (CBL).
9. Human Breast Milk Contains Cannabinoids
Now, this may bring somebody’s appreciation to new levels. Not many are aware, but breast milk is naturally abundant with some of the same cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. What makes this extremely nutrient rich baby food so great - it helps protect neurons in the postnatal development of the brain. This is extremely vital for the proper development of a human.
Without these essential nutrients, newborn children would not know how to eat, nor would they necessarily have the desire to eat, which could result in severe malnourishment. Go boobies!
10. Bob Marley Was Buried With Cannabis
Like a true reggae pop star, Bob Marley both literally and figuratively took it to the grave. He was buried near his birthplace in a crypt. His burial included his crimson Gibson Les Paul guitar, a soccer ball, a Bible (opened to Psalms 23), a ring from the son of the Ethiopian Emperor and a bud of cannabis.
For the curious, the beginning of the scripture reads, “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures”. We sure hope the King of ganja is indeed relaxing somewhere in an aromatic field of dank greenery.
11. An Activist Created Cannabis Brownies
But not just any activist, a cannabis one (wink, wink). Referred to as “Brownie Mary”, a woman named Mary Jane Rathbun was known as a pioneer in the medical cannabis movement. During the late 80’s, deadly diseases including AIDS ran rampant in San Francisco, CA leaving medical patients with an expectancy of 18 months. To swift rescue, Brownie Mary would hand out bud-infused brownies to patients. Along with lifting their spirits (no pun intended), Mary saw that baked goods helped reduce pain and nausea. This motivated her to continue.
As Mary’s fame grew, cannabis cultivators started funding her brownie supply fund by donating tons of cannabis so that she may continue the good work. Thanks to Mary, we now have many ways to consume CBD medically, including CBD capsules for sale. I mean really, how sweet is this story?
12. Cannabis Absorbs Radiation
There are numerous uses for cannabis, so it’s no surprise to learn cannabis may be able to help with radiation-related disasters. It has been shown that cannabis eliminates toxins and radioactive material that threatens the environment. One of the most dramatic demonstrations was Chernobyl. The aftermath of this nuclear catastrophe in 1986 left radioactive waste all over Eastern Europe. To put it to the test, scientists planted cannabis at the disaster site. They found that cannabis removed the hazardous chemicals from the soil better than any other plant through phytoremediation. Hey, they don’t call cannabis a miracle plant for nothing.
13. Cannabis Got Its Start In Asia
East Asia is believed to be cannabis’ ancestral homeland. Oral traditions of the plant date back to 2737 B.C. when Chinese Emperor Shen Nung recorded his first use of the plant as a medicinal substance. According to legend, Shen-Nung tested poisons and their anecdotes on himself and also created a herbal pharmacopeia, which documented cannabis’ effectiveness for treating a range of conditions including gout, malaria, and rheumatism.
And it doesn’t stop there. The Chinese relied on cannabis (mainly hemp) for other things besides its medicinal uses including weaponry, paper, clothing, food, etc.— much of the same ways we use the plant today.
Well, that does it! No doubt, cannabis is more interesting than we think, so we hope that we satisfied the curiosities of your mind. It’s these few facts that illustrate just how great and magical the plant truly is. Random? Maybe. But, we bet you'll never look at cannabis the same ever again.
What are your favorite fun facts about Cannabis? Tell us below!
Written by Emily Spring
Emily Spring is the Director of Marketing at Plant People. A longtime proponent of balanced living, she has enjoyed over 8 years driving growth in the lifestyle, health and wellness sectors with deep experience in functional solutions for optimizing anyone's everyday life.
Reviewed by Gabe Kennedy
Co-Founder of Plant People, Gabe Kennedy is an acclaimed chef and entrepreneur. Growing up in a house of healers and herbalists, he is passionate about the power of food as a tool for health, and actualized this passion and belief system into his company, Plant People. Named to Forbes 30 under 30 Gabe has shaped menus and cooked his way around the world with his mission to promote a more communal, green and healthy world.
Gabe is a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and Cornell University School of Hotel Administration. You can learn more about his work at his website.