A Brief History of
Cannabis has grown naturally on Earth for millions of years. Fossil pollen evidence shows that cannabis diverged from a genetic ancestor 27.8 million years ago, with recent studies placing cannabis in the Tibetan Plateau 19.6 million years ago. Fossil pollen shows the natural spread of cannabis from Northwest China to Europe 6 million years ago and then back through Eastern China 1.2 million years ago. These ancient ancestors of modern cannabis became what we refer to as landrace strains as they dispersed throughout the world, experiencing times of growth, shrinkage, and isolation, as the earth went through periods of great environmental change.
Humans have had a known relationship with cannabis for at least 12 thousand years. Early on we began to domesticate and cultivate landrace cannabis, similar to modern-day hemp, with a very low or nonexistent THC value, oily seeds, and strong fibers. Evidence dating back 5000 years shows that humans began to cultivate and consume cannabis for more than hemp fibers, intentionally seeking out the psychoactive properties of cannabis with a higher THC content. Molecular remnants of THC were found in bowls used to burn plant matter, at ancient Chinese burial grounds, suggesting a ritual use of psycho-actively strong cannabis. Studies concerning the history of cannabis cultivation and consumption, suggest that the cultural exchange routes of the Silk Road helped spread the knowledge of consumption and cultivation of THC-rich cannabis strains.