It is such a huge topic to really define what cannabis is, because it has been said to be very many things. In fact, what cannabis is finally is going to depend on who you are! For some, it is the perfect addition to a social setting. For others, it is the perfect medicine. So, in this article we will delve into the many different things that fit into the word “cannabis”.
The history of the ways human beings have used this plant is long and beautiful. In fact, cannabis has come to be one of the most versatile and functional plants for the human being. It’s time to journey into the story of cannabis and exactly what it is!
Cannabis as a scientific name
Most cannabis enthusiasts might actually know it by another name, such as marijuana, weed, bud, pot or herb. I like to think that the reason it has so many names is because we love it so much! For that reason, we came up with many different names of endearment. This could also be a result of people continually making up new names to remain inconspicuous! In either case, we’ve come to know it by a few different titles, now.
Mostly it is scientists and medical professionals that refer to the herb as “cannabis”. It is the scientific name for the plant, referred to as cannabis sativa. There are also other variations of the cannabis variety, such as cannabis ruderalis. This refers to a very low THC species of cannabis that grows extremely fast. Hemp also falls into the category of cannabis ruderalis, as it too has lower THC levels and is used more for its fibers.
So, keeping all of this in mind, cannabis is much more than the marijuana that you put in your joint. When we consider all of the ways that the different varieties of cannabis plants can be used, there is a lot more to it. Cannabis is a fiber, a plant based medicine, a super food, and of course – a flower!
Where did it come from?
There are some controversy surrounding the exact origins of cannabis, but it is mostly believed to have come from the mountain ranges of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Others will say that it originated from the Himalayas of India, but in any case, the general geographical location is clear.
Having said that, our use dates back thousands of years, and seems to have been used in different ways all over the world. While the Scythians used it as a steam bath, the Chinese used it as another piece of their herbal alchemy. So it didn’t take long for it to make its way around the world. And now there is basically nowhere in the world where you can find people who aren’t familiar with marijuana!
It is psychoactive
One of the reasons human beings love marijuana so much is for its psychoactive effects. The active cannabinoid in weed that gives the stoned effect is THC. There are many people around the world using cannabis as a form of recreational intoxication, and are preferring it to drugs or alcohol. It can induce creative thoughts, emotional responses, physical sensations, and euphoria.
The THC molecule very closely resembles a chemical in the human brain called anandamide, otherwise known as the “bliss molecule”. When it is released, it is said to activate feelings of euphoria and love in the human. It is no surprise that we love THC so much, given that it is almost identical to the anandamide molecule.
There are many famous, self-proclaimed marijuana lovers that have testified to the inspirational psychoactive effect. Even Carl Sagan talks about how the stoned effect of marijuana gave him inspiration into his life’s work and understanding human beings. It is quite mysterious how THC affects people in different ways and how the human being has tuned into this over the years. Rastafarian music is one example, while introspective documentaries are another. Humans have a special ability to channel the creative powers of THC into their work.
Cannabis is a medicine!
As the marijuana legalization movement continues to gain momentum across the USA and all over the world, it is becoming increasingly popular as a form of medicine. One of the first human uses we had for cannabis was a medicine. However, once prohibition took place, it took on a more recreational role in the human being’s life. More recently it has made a comeback as one of the most effective and powerful medicines that we have access to.
Scientifically speaking, it is cannabis sativa that is used as medicine. But among friends, it is medical marijuana or medical weed. Scientific research into marijuana has revealed a lot about the healing powers of THC and CBD. Most of the weed being produced in the USA at the moment is being genetically manipulated for the purpose of maximizing the volume of these two cannabinoids.
We are now growing weed that has extremely medicinal function because of the level of cannabinoid concentration we have been able to reach. What’s more is that we have been translating that into products that are completely suitable as medicines – such as oils and extracts. Extracts have further enabled the ability to reach (almost) cannabinoid purity.
Even though high CBD weed strains contain overall lower levels of THC, they still fall into the category of cannabis sativa. They are essentially still grown to be taken rather than used for their fibrous parts. Higher CBD strains of marijuana are being grown because of the medicinal potential of this specific cannabinoid. It also does not carry the psychoactive property of THC, meaning it can be safely used without getting high. This is an extremely attractive characteristic of CBD only products to medical marijuana patients.
So, there are now 29 states in the USA that have legalized medical marijuana if not recreational marijuana, meaning there are millions of medical marijuana patients all over the country now. It is being used to treat the symptoms of chemotherapy as well as being an anti-tumor agent. It is gaining popularity as a medicine for children suffering from epilepsy because it is non-psychoactive medicine that can be administered safely.
Interestingly, one of the biggest drug problems in the USA right now is that of opioid addiction. The number one reason that opioids are prescribed in the first place is to treat chronic pain, which cannabis is also famous for treating. Cannabis is revolutionizing the way that we deal with physical pain, giving safe, natural and non-addictive alternatives to those for whom opioid use is causing more harm than good. The arrival of cannabis into modern medicine is changing the lives of so many people. It is opening the door to a form of natural and intelligent healing that is alive.
It makes clothes, paper and even houses too!
Yes, that’s right – cannabis is literally that versatile. When cannabis is grown specifically for its fibers and not its flowers, it contains much less THC. However, hemp is one of the strongest fibers on the planet and grows incredibly fast. This is why cannabis is also a great material for industries. It is cheap, strong and extremely effective.
For paper and fabrics
Humans have been taking advantage of the strength of hemp fibers for a long time, and we have been weaving fabrics and paper for thousands of years. The Chinese were the first as early as 8,000 BC to use the fibers of plants (including hemp) for paper and fabrics. Hemp cultivation was famous in the USA in the 17th century, and some states (such as Virginia, Massachusetts and Connecticut) were required by law to cultivate.
It is no longer a surprise that chopping down trees for the paper industry is not sustainable. This much has become very clear to most people. Hemp has the potential to solve this problem – literally within months – because of how much paper it can produce over such a small time. Hemp grows incredibly fast and makes fibers exponentially stronger than that of trees or cotton. With hemp, we can make paper, clothes, string and even the materials to build a house!
Henry Ford was the famous man who saw the opportunity of biofuel in the hemp plant and manufactured a fully functional hemp fuel. Oh, and he also built an entire car out of hemp. The thing is that it works and it is completely efficient, which means that the fuel industries did not like it. Without getting into conspiracies, hemp has been prohibited from the fuel industry. Until now, we have not been taking advantage of how much biofuel is available in hemp and how efficient it is to run our cars.
Hemp as an in-between crop
Hemp is also used by farmers as a way to rejuvenate and regenerate the soil in-between crops. Interestingly, hemp has the property of being able to pull toxins from the soil that it is planted in. The process of using plants to clean soil is called phyto-remediation and can even be used to remove nuclear material that has made its way into soil. It can clean up metals, pesticides and solvents as well as crude oil and other landfill toxins.
Hemp is one of the best phyto-remediation plants that we have available to us on this planet. It has the potential to keep our soil healthy from contaminants, and therefore to keep our food and medicines contaminant free, too.
Cannabis is also a superfood
There are many health enthusiasts who are using hemp seeds and hemp-seed oil as an extremely nutritious addition to their diet. There are many proteins and beneficial fats in the hemp seed which can dramatically improve health when they are used over long periods of time. The same is true of the cannabis flower. In fact, if it is eaten raw or juiced, the human body is much better able to absorb all of the magical things inside, making it just as much a superfood as cacao or acai berry.
Some people even sprinkle raw cannabis leaves onto their salads or breakfasts because of its beneficial health properties. The point is that cannabis is also helping people connect with the concept that medicine is available through our food. It is much more than just getting high or intoxicated, as even before this plant has its psychoactive properties, it is a complete smoothie of things that are amazing for the human body.
Cannabis is natural
Ultimately, the most fundamental property of cannabis is that it is natural! Whether we are going to use it as a medicine, as a superfood or as fuel for our cars, it is biodegradable and recyclable. In fact, almost nothing has to be done to the cannabis plant in order for us to use it most of the time. We can just pick it and eat it, or smoke it. Even the process of manufacturing hemp paper is much more efficient than manufacturing the paper of trees.
It is important that humans start to pay attention to the environment and the ecosystem, and cannabis is a great way to be involved in it. We have so many different uses for it that basically none of it goes to waste. And whatever does get left behind can be composted because it is completely natural.
Cannabis is a gift from nature for human beings to use with love. It is a way to nourish the body and brain without doing any damage to the environment around us. So, defining cannabis is really challenging because it is a myriad of things. It is not just something we use for pleasure, but also something we use for medicine. It is not just something we use for food, but also as fiber! It is one of the most resourceful plants that the human being as such availability to!