Weed has been with us since time immemorial. People have used it for all kinds of purposes — from making clothes to smoking pot, marijuana has played an important role in shaping human civilisation. A cannabis plant is of three types – cannabis Sativa, cannabis Indica and cannabis ruderalis. After following a specific extraction method, what you get is the most common drug in the world, most commonly known as cannabis. Some people call it weed, while others marijuana, and some cannabis. Weed is being widely accepted by people of all castes, colour, and creed. As the places change, so do the names. Most people in the US call it weed, pot or cannabis, so the name ‘marijuana’ is falling out of favour because of its racist history.
Weed causes two types of reactions when it’s consumed — it either relaxes your mood or makes you feel energetic. Apart from it, medical experts prescribe cannabis-based medication to patients suffering from depression, chronic pain, and other physical and mental health conditions. Cannabis has several benefits but it also causes many side effects, many times severe ones. It’s important to understand it completely before you start consuming it in any form.
History of weed
The weed plant was first grown around 500 BC in central Asia. Experts have found burned weed seeds in graves in China and Siberia, dating back to 500 BC. According to estimates, the hemp plant then evolved in Africa and Europe. The cultivation of weed moved to America, where people first used it to make clothes, paper, ropes, and sails. Many people also consumed it as food.
During its initial years, weed was not grown to get high. In the 15th and 16th centuries, weed’s popularity grew manifold, leading to its production for commercial purposes across American states like Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Virginia. It has been found that weed cultivated during that period contained an extremely low level of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical that causes ‘high’ in people. Evidence suggests people later started experimenting with weed plants to produce marijuana with higher THC levels. This was often used for health purposes and religious ceremonies. Various racial and political factors played a big role in criminalizing weed in the 20th century.
Popularisation of Weed in History
The first commercial use of weed as a healer medicine can be traced back to the 18th century when Sir William Brooke O’Shaughnessy, an Irish doctor who was studying in India, found that cannabis can treat patients suffering from stomach pain and cholera. Cannabis as a cure for these two diseases received widespread publicity across Europe and the United States. Once researchers came to know about the compound that was the main source of medicinal properties in marijuana, cannabis was used to treat various other ailments too. Scientists found that THC has several mind-altering properties, which affects brain areas and leads to relief from various types of pains. As its usage increased, people also started consuming cannabis to get high by inhaling smoke or burning seeds and flowers.
Criminalization & legalization of Weed: From Past History to Present
Cannabis became a popular drug for recreational purposes in the 1900s. Its popularity dwindled soon during the Great Depression in the 1930s when massive unemployment led to fear among the masses that it’s an “evil drug.” Politics and racial factors forced authorities in 29 states of the United States to ban cannabis, thereby dealing a massive blow to its proponents. This led to the passing of the Marijuana Tax Act in 1937. The law criminalized marijuana throughout the United States.
The US state of California was the first state to pave the way for legalizing marijuana after over 25 years in 1996. The new law introduced by the state allowed the medical use of cannabis to treat severe chronic illnesses. This led to a wave of states, including Washington DC and 29 others, legalizing marijuana for limited medical purposes. As of now, 34 states in the US have either approved weed for recreational or medical purposes.
Components of weed
A weed flower is made of various components, including cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. There are over 120 cannabinoids, with CBD, THC, and CBG being the most widely used ones. Terpenes are there for aroma, while flavonoids provide colour pigmentation, odour, and flavour. Researchers are still exploring the qualities of each one of the cannabinoids, but they have pretty good ideas about some of them like CBD, THC, and CBG. Markets are flooded with companies selling products based on these cannabinoids.
CBD & THC: CBD is also called cannabidiol, a compound that’s extracted from cannabis or marijuana plants. Variants of CBD may vary, with 3-20 per cent concentration. Although there are many benefits of CBD, people primarily use CBD for three things — stress, mental health issues, and pain management. It’s mainly extracted from hemp plants, as it’s the only plant with less than 1.3 per cent THC content. The less concentration of THC in cannabis means more CBD production and that’s good for manufacturers dealing in CBD products. While CBD is generally found to be healthy and a major stress buster, THC is one chemical in marijuana that’s responsible for intoxication.
CBG: CBG is as old as CBD or THC but grew in popularity only recently. People want to explore its properties just like CBD and THC to understand its effects on the human body. CBG holds many similarities with CBD. It does not cause high. Also, it is seen as a possible cure against various anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. So, it can reduce stress by uplifting your mood.
The bottom line
Weed is going to stay here for centuries to come and as science progresses, many new developments are expected in this space. As per some estimates, the weed industry is estimated to grow to $75 billion by 2027. Companies that have seen initial opportunities in this space are investing heavily in it, and they’ll surely be the ultimate winners of tomorrow. However, it’s no doubt that weed is a controversial plant. A number of people across the world want governments to legalize it due to its medicinal properties. Critics, however, have raised doubts saying the full legalization could lead to widespread misuse. It remains to be seen how its future will unfold.