Hashish, also known as hash, is the most concentrated and potent form of cannabis containing high levels of THC. Hash is derived from the dried resin of the plants flowering tops and is compressed into a variety of forms such as balls, cakes or sticks. The Middle East, North Africa, Pakistan and Afghanistan are the main sources of hashish. Pieces of hash are broken off and placed in pipes (similar to marijuana) and smokes.
In a variety of vending machines it is common to find marijuana packed at maturity, marijuana candies, marijuana gum and sometimes marijuana cigarettes.
Marijuana and hemp have been and are used in a variety of products. Some of the most common foods and drinks include cereal, candy, coffees and teas. Hemp is also found in body lotions, make up and shampoo.
The topic of legalizing marijuana for medical use is a controversial issue since the therapeutic properties of marijuana are presently at question when claiming medicinal purpose. The impairment of cognitive abilities when under the influence of cannabis or THC and the short term effects of marijuana use can include problems with memory and learning, distorted perception, coordination and increased heart rate.
Having no current accepted medical use in the United States and a high potential for abuse, cannabis is a Schedule I controlled substance.
Cannabis is dioecious, meaning it comes as separate male and female plants. Male plants are taller and thinner and have flower like pods which contain the fertilizing, pollen-generating anthers. The female plant is darker and shorter and has short hairs protruding at the end of the bracteole pods.
Today, hemp fibers are more commonly used in clothing and jewelry.
From China, coastal farmers brought pot to Korea about 2000 B.C. or earlier, according to the book “The Archeology of Korea” (Cambridge University Press, 1993). Cannabis came to the South Asian subcontinent 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. The drug became widely used in India, where it was celebrated as one of “five kingdoms of herbs . which release us from anxiety” in one of the ancient Sanskrit Vedic poems whose name translate into “Science of Charms.”
Burned cannabis seeds have also been found in kurgan burial mounds in Siberia dating back to 3,000 B.C., and some of the tombs of noble people buried in Xinjiang region of China and Siberia around 2500 B.C. have included large quantities of mummified psychoactive marijuana.
After this really long “trip” throughout the pre-modern and modern worlds, cannabis finally came to the United States at the beginning of the 20th century. It arrived in the southwest United States from Mexico, with immigrants fleeing that country during the Mexican Revolution of 1910-1911.
A second psychoactive species of the plant, Cannabis indica, was identified by the French naturalist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, and a third, uncommon one, Cannabis ruderalis, was named in 1924 by Russian botanist D.E. Janischevisky.
“It likely flourished in the nutrient-rich dump sites of prehistoric hunters and gatherers,” Warf wrote in his study.
Where did pot come from?
Over the next centuries, cannabis migrated to various regions of the world, traveling through Africa, reaching South America in the 19th century and being carried north afterwards, eventually reaching North America.
While the researchers are unable to determine the actual origin of the cannabis used in the Jirzankal burials, they suggest that Jirzankal’s elevation some 10,000 feet on the Pamir Plateau may have put people in close proximity to wild strains with higher THC content—or that the cemetery could have been sited at that elevation for ease of access to desirable strains.
The Jirzankal cannabis features higher levels of mind-altering compounds than have yet been found at any ancient site, suggesting that people could have been intentionally cultivating certain strains of cannabis for a potent high, or selecting wild plants known to produce that effect.
The discovery at Jirzankal also provides the first direct evidence that humans inhaled combusted cannabis plants in order to obtain its psychoactive effects. No evidence of smoking pipes or similar apparatus has been found in Asia before contact with the New World in the modern era, but the inhalation of cannabis smoke from a heat source is described by the fifth-century B.C. Greek historian Herodotus, who described in his Histories how the Scythians, a nomadic tribe living on the Caspian Steppe, purified themselves with cannabis smoke after burying their dead: “The Scythians then take the seed of this hemp and, crawling in under the mats, throw it on the red-hot stones, where it smolders and sends forth such fumes that no Greek vapor-bath could surpass it. The Scythians howl in their joy at the vapor-bath.”
When chemical analysis of the braziers revealed that nine of the ten once contained cannabis, the researchers compared the chemical signature of the samples against those of cannabis plants discovered 1,000 miles to the east at Jiayi Cemetery, in burials dating from the eighth to the sixth century B.C.
They saw that the Jirzankal cannabis had something the Jiayi hemp did not: Molecular remnants of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC—the chemical responsible for cannabis’ psychoactive effects. The strain of cannabis found at Jiayi does not contain THC, and would have been primarily been used as a source of fiber for clothing and rope, as well as nutrient-rich oilseed.
While cannabis plants and seeds have been identified at other archaeological sites from the same general region and time period—including a cannabis ‘burial shroud’ discovered in 2016—it’s been unclear in each context whether the versatile plant was used for psychoactive reasons or for other ritual purposes.
“It’s a wonderful example of how closely intertwined humans are and have been with the biotic world around them, and that they impose evolutionary pressures on the plants around them,” he says.