Growing and using cannabis dates back for thousands of years. It’s only fairly recently that the world has experienced an era of marijuana criminalization, stigmatization, and supposed marijuana addiction facts and myths about its use. This interesting history and the research that’s happened since has provided lots of fodder for fun and interesting facts about marijuana. From trivia that’s lighthearted and silly to intriguing facts about medical marijuana, there’s no doubt much more to learn about this powerful and mysterious plant.
You probably know a lot about cannabis. In fact, these days if you don’t have a basic knowledge of cannabis you probably don’t pay much attention to current affairs, given how much focus the media has paid to it in recent years. Still, there’s always more to know, so we’ve compiled a list of our favourite little-known facts!
Females Respond Differently to Marijuana than Males
Cannabis connoisseurs are aware that various strains of marijuana affect people differently. But most people don’t know that how an individual reacts to weed may depend on whether they’re a male or a female? The first fascinating marijuana fact dives into the gender differences that exist when it comes to cannabis use.
A study by Washington State University looked at marijuana tolerance and found that females build a tolerance cannabis much more easily than males. The study was done on rats, as they have a menstrual cycle and experience fluctuations in hormone levels in a way that’s very similar to female humans.
The researchers found that the females were more sensitive to THC during the time of ovulation, so they adjusted their dosage down accordingly. Still, even when starting at a low dose, within 10 days, the female rats had developed a higher tolerance for the drug than males in the study. In other words: if given a little over a week to level up, even the most marijuana-sensitive woman can easily outpace the males.
Cannabis is the world’s most valuable crop
This fact is by no means obscure, but it is surprising how few people understand the true, unbelievably huge value of the global cannabis crop. Not only is it the world’s biggest cash crop in absolute terms, with a gross production value of over $300 billion in 2014, it is also the most lucrative per square kilometre–at $47.7 million/km², it far outranks its closest competitor cocaine, which brings in an impressive $37.7 million/km². And it does so on just a fraction of the land used to grow rice, maize, and wheat, the highest-grossing conventional crops. These three crops each take up around 2 million km² in land, while cannabis was estimated in 2010 to take up just 6,148 km²!
Heavy marijuana users can grow to be very dependent on the herb, feeling sick and uncomfortable when not consuming the drug. Scientists discovered several variables that suggest that this dependence may be related to genetic reasons, leaving some people more vulnerable than others due to their DNA. These variables are not causal, they simply exist and will definitely lead to more research and exploration on the subject.
In Bhutan, cannabis is used as pig feed
In Bhutan, cannabis is so abundant that it is fed to pigs (© nutmeg66)
In the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan, wild cannabis grows so prolifically that the locals view it as a nuisance and even feed it to their pigs. The tiny, landlocked kingdom has historically been highly insular and strictly Buddhist–and not the kind of Buddhist that approves of intoxication! Thus, having no culture of cannabis use as an intoxicant, the Bhutanese have traditionally had very little use for it. However, in recent years as television (and foreign media) has infiltrated the country, there are increasing signs that the country’s youth are wising up to the possible pleasures of their wild bounty.
Shakespeare Smoked Pot
Does marijuana make people dumb or creative? Consider this cannabis fact: there is evidence that Shakespeare, the famous playwright and poet, was a fan of the beautiful green plant. Indeed, forensic technology has revealed marijuana residue in pipes found in his Stratford-upon-Avon garden.
The forensic study used a specialized gas procedure that is known to be extremely sensitive to residue preserved in pipes, even if the residue is hundreds of years old. Of the studied clay “tobacco pipes” that came from Shakespeare’s garden, four of them were found to contain traces of marijuana.
Given the research findings, it is possible that Shakespeare was quite high when he wrote the romantic sonnets and other literary works that are still considered masterpieces by many people. If so, then the connection between creativity and cannabis consumption may just have gotten a bit stronger.
Japanese ninjas once trained by leaping over hemp plants
In this fascinating article, one of Japan’s leading experts on cannabis, Junichi Takayasu relates how a childhood book inspired him to grow cannabis (and how displeased his mother was when she learned of his ambition!); this book illustrated how ninjas-in-training would start a crop of hemp, and each day as it grew rapidly taller would be forced to leap higher and higher over it, and thus develop their leg muscles. Takayasu was so inspired that he now runs Japan’s only museum dedicated to cannabis and hemp!
Marijuana Is in the Air in Italy
Another fun marijuana fact? It seems that marijuana smoke is wafting through the air in many parts of Italy. In 2012, scientists at Italy’s Institute of Atmospheric Pollution Research published a report of their findings on the substances in the air of some of the country’s most populous cities.
The researchers tested the air in Florence, Milan, Rome, Bologna, Verona, Naples, Palermo, and Turin. They concluded that weed was floating through the air in all eight of these cities, and that Bologna and Florence had the highest levels.
Even in the latter two cities, the amounts are not concentrated enough to cause a contact high. What is clear, though, is that love isn’t the only thing in the air in Italy. In fact, the researchers discovered that in addition to cannabis, the air in the eight cities also contained cocaine, caffeine, and nicotine.
The Bashilenge was a cannabis cult in 19th-century Congo
In 1881-1882, the German explorers Pogge and Wissman travelled throughout the southern Congo basin, and in the course of their journey they encountered a sect of hemp-worshippers known as the Bashilenge, who also called themselves Bena-Riamba, meaning “sons of hemp”. They cultivated vast fields of cannabis, the harvest of which featured heavily in all manner of important rituals, such as business deals, holidays, and peace treaties. Members of the cult were required to show their devotion by smoking as much cannabis as possible, and the hemp pipe took on a significance similar to the peace pipe of the Native Americans!
More than 200 Slang Terms Exist for Cannabis
It turns out that there are over 200 street names or slang variations of the word marijuana? Even the word “marijuana” is a new term for the plant (in a historical sense). Americans only started using it in the 1930s when Harry Anslinger, the first director of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, started a fear-mongering campaign to tie cannabis to immigrant Mexicans. In the years since then, the drug has also become known as “grass,” “weed” or “pot,” but a bit of world travel reveals some other interesting terminology for it.
One example is “dinkie dow cigarette.” Used by American GIs during the Vietnam war, this term borrows the Vietnamese phrase for “crazy” to ask for a bit of wacky weed. If someone wants a joint in Great Britain, they need only ask for a “gasper stick.” It may sound old-fashioned now, but in the U.S., “joystick” used to either refer to the equipment people used to play video games or a marijuana cigarette. Meanwhile, in Latin culture, asking for for “caracas” will result in very low-grade marijuana.
The actual act of smoking cannabis has also generated a slew of slang terms. Marijuana users may be “going loco,” “getting the wind,” “smoking trees,” “chasing,” or even “mowing the grass.”
In England, hemp ropes were used by professional hangmen
Before capital punishment was made illegal in England in 1965, professional hangmen used hempen ropes as nooses, due to their superior strength and relative lack of elasticity. Hemp was the preferred material, but would often be mixed with other fibres such as Italian silk, to make the drop smoother. Use of hemp ropes by hangmen became so ingrained that a noose was often referred to as a “hempen necktie” or just “a hemp”.
Marijuana Boosts Mood Using the Same Mechanism as Chocolate
THC is an excellent antidepressant because it binds to the same receptors as the brain’s natural anandamide, or “bliss molecule.” CBD, another ingredient in marijuana, slows the brain’s breakdown of anandamide. This makes marijuana a double-whammy in terms of its antidepressant properties.
For those who are feeling down and don’t have marijuana handy, it may help to munch on some chocolate. It turns out that chocolate contains theobromine, a substance that stimulates the brain to produce produce greater amounts of anandamide. It’s apparent that there’s hard science behind chocolate lovers’ enjoyment of the melty treat.
In Switzerland, cannabis was once sold in “aromatic pillows”
At the height of Switzerland’s famously relaxed drug policies at the turn of the 21st century, hundreds of cannabis shops throughout the country sold small amounts of cannabis packaged as “aromatic pillows” or “bath scents”, on the proviso that they were not for human consumption. Unfortunately, the laws subsequently tightened up and the aromatic pillows are no longer available–although the laws relaxed yet again in 2013, and Geneva and several other cities are now thinking about permitting retail sales of cannabis.
Hemp has been used to make bulletproof clothing
Hemp fibre truly is a wonderful thing. It has clothed humanity for thousands of years, and in modern times has been used in countless innovative new ways. One of the most astonishing of these new applications is in the manufacture of high-strength fabrics, some of which are strong enough to stop a 22-calibre or even a 9mm bullet. Clothing designer Hemp Hoodlamb has a IIA-rated bulletproof coat, the HHL Classic Bulletproof, which has been tested to stop a .22 and a Glock 9mm!
In Iran, they have been making cannabis extracts for hundreds of years
In Europe and North America, cannabis concentrates such as wax and shatter are really just starting to explode in popularity, although the basic techniques have been in use for thirty years or more. However, our expertise pales in comparison with that of traditional Iranian hash-makers, who worked out a method of adding ground-up weed to near-boiling water to extract the resin, which they called row?an-e bang. When the cannabinoid-rich oils are heated by the water, they rise to the top of the container while the plant matter sinks. The oily globules can then be skimmed off and dried, producing a basic yet highly effective form of pure cannabis oil!
Cannabis was widely used in 19th-century American veterinary medicine
It’s widely-known that cannabis has a long history of use in medicine, but what is less well known is that it’s not just humans that we traditionally treated with cannabis, it was our livestock too. Historic texts from various countries attest to cannabis used in veterinary medicine, but it is arguably the USA that had the most developed pharmacopoeia of cannabis-based animal medicine. Look here for a gallery of dozens of tinctures and ointments used to treat all manner of maladies in horses, cows, sheep and various other farmyard beasts.
Ancient Europeans held erotic, naked rituals in honour of hemp
Throughout much of ancient Central and Northern Europe, the Nordic goddess Freyja was worshipped as a deity of love and sexuality. She was also associated with hemp, and during the sowing and harvesting of the yearly crop some remarkably salacious fertility rituals took place, involving “marriageable boys” and female participants that were “required to be totally or partially naked“. The source provided also goes into some interesting detail about Catholic girls going in groups into the hemp fields and rolling around naked among the plants… Anyway, it seems that these peculiar customs have tragically died out, more’s the pity!
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