RecreationalThe Popularity of Cannabis & CBD – How Did We Get Here?

The discovery of cannabis as a drug dates back to 2700BC as recorded by a Chinese medical manual. It was used to treat malaria, gout, rheumatism and what the father of Chinese medicine referred to as ‘absent-mindedness.’ By 1500 BC, the Egyptians were using it to treat inflammation while the Arabs and Hindus were using it between 800 A.D. and 1000 A.D. not only to treat diseases but also for recreational purposes.

Although it was banned in recent history for being the psychedelic agent of hippies and stoners, there is much evidence that medieval physicians used it to efficiently treat pain and other ailments. These ancient doctors also knew of its intoxicating effects and warned against using too much of it as it could cause mind alteration.


Origins and early use

Cannabis has its origins in Central Asia and is made up of 3 species and 7 sub-species. These species have had different applications throughout history based on their cannabinoid content. For instance, the hemp plant has low cannabinoid content but it has been grown for its strong fibers that produce strong ropes, clothes, bags and rigging.

Cannabis sativa on the other hand is a complex plant with a rich spectrum of phytochemicals including the popular cannabinoids CBD and its psychoactive kin THC. Cannabinoids have been largely studied in modern day history for its wide range of pharmaceutical effects in humans.

Cannabis mainly hemp arrived into the Americas in mid 1500s brought in by the Spanish explorers. During this time, hemp was only grown for its strong fiber but this was replaced by the discovery of cotton in the late 1800s and people found another use of hemp. Around this time, the slaves who were transported to Brazil were allowed to grow and smoke marijuana.

When a large number of Mexicans left for America during the 1910 Mexican revolution, it marked the beginning of the introduction of marijuana to patent drugs in America. In fact, the first recorded use of marijuana in the USA was in 1909 in New Orleans. This boom was short lived because the use of cannabis together with opium and cocaine drugs began to be criminalized by the 1914 Harrison act and was finally banned in 1925.


Cannabis and music

The popularity of cannabis was at its peak in the 1920s and this is the time when cannabis and music got married. No one can deny the complement between the two and it all started with the jazz pioneer Louis Armstrong and continued by others like Lindsey Buckingham and Milton Mezzrow. As these musicians would later describe, cannabis had the ability to produce a cognitive shift that changed their perception to music as a stimuli.

While it all started with jazz, the relationship between cannabis and music has grown and expanded to all genre of music today. Cannabis has not only shaped the sound but also the culture as seen in reggae, jungle and hip-hop music. Cannabis influence and popularity continue to be seen even in the new age music genres that continue to emerge year after year. The enhanced perception created by cannabis caused a shift of focus that enabled musicians to selectively accept or disregard certain information related to their performance. As Bob Marley put it, “when you smoke the herb, it reveals you to yourself”.


Prohibition fueled its popularity

It is interesting to note that the prohibition of marijuana use in USA contributed immensely to its increased popularity. The law banning marijuana in 1925 did not immediately go into effect until the year 1938 when the Marijuana Tax Act came into effect. The act imposed a heavy excise duty on the sale, possession or transportation of cannabis. The effects of this started to be felt in 1941 when cannabis was removed from all pharmacopoeias.

Despite this, hemp plantations still existed until 1958. The classification of marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug by the federal government happened in 1970 and is still in effect today. This classification hampered further research on cannabis and its use continued to be shrouded in controversy. Besides, this classification has not over the years managed to tame the use of cannabis but fuel it.


The effect of legalization

The widespread use of cannabis among young adults and adolescents peaked in the second half of 1990s before declining by mid-2000s. However, its use in the recent years has soared up again as the perception of its risks continue to decline. The legalization of medical marijuana starting with California in 1996 followed by more than half of the US states so far has raised hopes of cannabis returning to its medieval drug status. By 2018, one in four adults was found to be using marijuana.

This is attributed to CBD which has been shown to treat a variety of diseases without imparting any psychoactive effects. Today, you will find CBD and CBD infused products almost everywhere and the legal marijuana industry is expected to generate $32 billion by 2022. With over 60% of Americans calling for the legalization of cannabis, the federal government may, in the near future, think of loosening its stand regarding its Schedule 1 classification of cannabis.


Approved CBD-based drugs

Today, CBD based drug Epidiolex has been FDA approved for the treatment of epilepsy and there are many companies that are working on other CBD – based drugs and medications for approval. The popularity of cannabis and CBD for medicinal use is based on its successful action against a number of ailments including chronic pain, inflammation, arthritis and heart disease among many others. It has been shown to be effective and present minimal side effects compared to the mainstream medicines.


With the continuing legalization of cannabis and CBD for both medicinal and recreational purposes, it can as well be said that the fate of cannabis is sealed. The most popular but controversial drug is here to stay and with more research, new uses will arise thanks to its a thousand and one components. The explosion of CBD onto the market has certainly awakened the curiosity of many who are willing to give it a try for whatever reason. The confusion is however great and people need to be educated in order for them to make informed choices regarding the use of cannabis and CBD.

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