Medical Marijuana

Medical Marijuana, Then and Now


The latest issue of the Journal of Experimental Botany includes a report on the oldest known marijuana stash, nearly two pounds found in the grave of a Gushi shaman who was buried 2,700 years ago in the Gobi Desert near Turpan. Analysis of the "superbly preserved" plant material—which had been placed in a wooden bowl and a leather basket, presumably for the shaman's use in the afterlife—found that it contained substantial levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), marijuana's main active ingredient. "The cannabis was presumably employed by this culture as a medicinal or psychoactive agent, or an aid to divination," write the authors, led by the American neurologist and cannabis researcher Ethan Russo. "To our knowledge, these investigations provide the oldest documentation of cannabis as a pharmacologically active agent."

In their 1993 book Marihuana: The Forbidden Medicine, Lester Grinspoon and James Bakalar say:

A native of central Asia, cannabis may have been cultivated as long as ten thousand years ago. It was certainly cultivated in China by 4000 B.C. and in Turkestan by 3000 B.C. It has long been used as a medicine in India, China, the Middle East, Southest Asia, South Africa, and South America. The first evidence for medicinal use of cannabis is an herbal published during the reign of the Chinese emperor Chen Nung five thousand years ago. Cannabis was recommended for malaria, constipation, rheumatic pains, "absentmindedness," and female disorders.

Meanwhile, the Marijuana Policy Project reports that Germany is about to become the fifth country to allow the use of cannabis as a medicine. Last month in the U.S., Michigan became the 13th state to do so.

News coverage of the Russo discovery here and here.

[Thanks to Holly Fisher for the tip.]

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  1. Do you suffer from malaria, constipation, rheumatic pain, or your wife’s female disorders? Just smoke some of this heavenly weed and your suffering will appear more bearable.

    Also, if you are suffering from absendmindedness . . . what was I saying?

  2. Fuckin’ hippies.

  3. Analysis of the “superbly preserved” plant material

    Phytochemical, genetic, plus a third test they didn’t write up in the paper?

  4. which had been placed in a wooden bowl and a leather basket, presumably for the shaman’s use in the afterlife

    Also found: a hacky sack and primitive Cheetos.

  5. Keep Dope Alive

  6. Also found: a hacky sack and primitive Cheetos.

    Kids today. They used frisbees and Oreos back then..

  7. Analysis of the “superbly preserved” plant material – blub blub blub blub blub blub blub blub pffffffffftttttttt – found that it contained substantial levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), marijuana’s main active ingredient.

  8. They should clone it and call the strain Gushi Shaman.

  9. Why do ancients always smoke pot solely for medicinal or spiritual reasons. I’m guessing there was a third, more commonly used purpose for that marijuana. They were getting stoned off their asses.

    Just like the Festival of Dionysus wasn’t some grand spiritual event. It was an excuse to get loaded and get laid (see: modern Mardi Gras). Why do we have to strip the ancients of all of our flaws and carnal desires. They were just as dumb, short-sighted and hedonistic as we were.

  10. Mo – damn straight!

  11. They should clone it and call the strain Gushi Shaman.

    Shaman’s not here, man.

  12. Damn it. joe’s comment was a lot funnier than mine.

  13. Aww, no mention of the Scythians? From wikipedia:

    “Homer called the Scythians “the mare-milkers”. Herodotus described them in detail: their costume consisted of padded and quilted leather trousers tucked into boots, and open tunics. They rode with no stirrups or saddles, just saddle-cloths. Herodotus reports that Scythians used cannabis, both to weave their clothing and to cleanse themselves in its smoke (Hist. 4.73-75); archaeology has confirmed the use of cannabis in funeral rituals. The Scythian philosopher Anacharsis visited Athens in the 6th century BC and became a legendary sage.” (emphasis mine)

  14. That ziplock bag looks awful well preserved. Who knew those dudes kept their stashes same way we do?

    I’m with Mo. All this crap about how it had to be part of some mystical or religious ceremony is, well, crap.

  15. Hmmmm……2700 year old stash……where do I sign up for a sample?

  16. Anyone who has noticed that their stash loses potency over time with exposure to air will have a hard time believing that 2,700-year-old weed would have “substantial levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)”. That is, they’ll have a hard time believing it if they’re not too stoned and gullible.

  17. I agree with the sentiments on the thread about ancients not having hedonistic motives for using drugs. Although I am sure they used it medicinally and spiritually, I am also quite sure the main reasoning was to get high. I personally feel that it is just human nature, almost a primal instinct to want to have fun by way of drugs.

    Although I do think marijuana has medicinal uses, I have never been a huge proponent for it. Mainly because I want it legalized. I personally smoke marijuana, I do not use any other drugs. (legal or illegal, just full disclosure here I don’t look down on other drugs users though, I feel that all drugs should be legalized, just a personal choice not to use the other ones) I can tell you, maybe this is different in other parts of the country, but it is MUCH easier for me to go out and find marijuana than it is say, opiates (pain killers).

    Now under California law I have a condition that would qualify me for medicinal marijuana. I’ve got chronic pain stemming from a condition that I was born with. However quite honestly California’s law is comical, it basically just legalizes it. If it were to ever happen nationally it would never be that lax, in fact it would be heavily controlled.

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