Several anthropologists in the past decade have discovered cannabis residue on ancient Jewish altars. Europeans living in the 11th century used marijuana as an aesthetic for toothaches. How come our ancestors got along well with cannabis but our generation deemed it illegal? Let’s find out.
Origins of Cannabis
1. Central Asia
Scientific analysis suggests that countries such as China, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan used the cannabis plant since 8,000 BC. In fact, the Chinese invented paper using hemp fibers. A few religious ceremonies called for the burning of marijuana to enhance spiritual connection with deities.
2. How it spread across the world
Cannabis made its way to East Africa courtesy of the Monsoon trade. During the 18th century, Indian traders would travel to Kenya and Tanzania’s coasts. They traded cannabis with other items such as animal hides and game trophies. Locals who received cannabis began growing it and sharing seeds generously.
Europe’s history with cannabis can be traced back to the 5th century. Most of it came from central Asia where Vikings frequently explored. During this period, Greek doctors used marijuana to treat inflammation.
Factors that led to Marijuana’s stigma as a narcotic globally
Britain colonized several African countries and India between the 18th-20th centuries. These colonialists, bent on making life unbearable, snatched away any form of luxury from natives. That’s why British colonies forbade cannabis cultivation and consumption.
Most countries in Africa are still using outdated laws established during colonial regimes. This means that cannabis is still illegal until countries either go for a referendum or implement new constitutions.
2. Limited medical infrastructure
When you look at countries that are yet to catch up with the wave of marijuana legalization, one character stands out. More than 50% of them are either developing or third world nations. Also, they have insufficient medical infrastructure. That’s because most colonialists focused on investing in industries at the expense of national health.
Poorly developed medical infrastructure makes it impossible to conduct research on the effects on cannabis. So, most medical experts in underdeveloped countries resort to relying on published cannabis reports from the USA and Europe. Unfortunately, some of the information is skewed to present cannabis negatively.
3. Attaching strings to donor funds
Have you ever had to tolerate someone you don’t like because you need them more than they need you? That’s what third world nations go through when approaching global superpowers for donor funds. It’s no secret that some donor countries are notorious for attaching strings to government loans.
Over reliance on donor countries is the main reason why African countries and developing nations across Asia cannot amend their cannabis laws. Trying to go against the grain would mean potentially losing out on millions of dollars from donors.
4. The United Nations enforced the ban on marijuana
During the 80’s, the United Nations enforced a global campaign against illegal drug use. While the intention was noble, the Convention on Psychotropic Substances classified cannabis as a Schedule 1 narcotic. This category is for drugs that have a high potential for addiction and almost zero medicinal value.
Initially, developing nations from Africa, South America, and Asia resisted the convention. However, America and wealthy European countries exerted their economic influence to convince them otherwise. At least 183 nations have committed themselves to enforcing the Convention on Psychotropic Substances.
When you look at how ancient civilizations used marijuana, it’s clear that they weren’t experimenting. That’s why cannabis spread easily from one continent to the next because people valued its diverse benefits. The only catalyst for legalizing marijuana in developing nations is gaining total financial dependence from former colonial masters.