Cannabis History

A library of educational information on the history of cannabis.

Unveiling the Rich History of Cannabis in China



Dive into the captivating world of cannabis as we embark on a historical journey through China’s profound relationship with this remarkable plant. In this extensively researched blog post, we explore the multifaceted history of cannabis in China. From ancient origins to its resurgence in modern medicine, we uncover its cultural significance, medicinal applications, and the evolving landscape surrounding its use.

Ancient Origins: A Legacy Rooted in Tradition

Cannabis cultivation in China dates back thousands of years, with archeological evidence suggesting its use as early as the Neolithic period. The plant, known as “da ma” (大妈) or “” () played a central role in Chinese society. It was cultivated for its versatile fibres, which were transformed into textiles, ropes, and paper, supporting the development of ancient Chinese civilisation.

Historical Medicinal Practices: Honouring the Wisdom of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

Cannabis holds a revered place in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), a holistic healing system that has been practiced for centuries. Ancient Chinese medical texts, such as the “Shennong Ben Cao Jing” from around 100 AD, document the therapeutic properties of cannabis. It was utilised to address a range of ailments, including pain, inflammation, malaria, and gynaecological disorders, showcasing the extensive knowledge of herbal medicine in ancient China.

Taoist Philosophy: Cannabis as a Path to Spiritual Enlightenment

Taoism, a profound philosophical and religious tradition, embraced the spiritual aspects of cannabis. Within the teachings of Taoist philosophy, cannabis was believed to enhance meditation, perception, and communication with the divine. Notably, the “Baopuzi” (抱朴子) a text authored by Ge Hong during the Jin dynasty, details the ritualistic use of cannabis for transcendent experiences and spiritual enlightenment.

Literature and Art: Cannabis in China as an Inspiration for Creativity

Throughout Chinese history, cannabis found its way into literature and art, serving as a muse for creativity. Esteemed poets, such as Li Bai from the Tang dynasty, celebrated the plant’s intoxicating effects in their works, elevating cannabis as a symbol of transcendence and poetic inspiration. The profound influence of cannabis on Chinese literature is a testament to its cultural significance and enduring allure.

Prohibition and Recent Developments: Navigating Changing Tides

In the 20th century, China implemented strict drug control policies, leading to the prohibition of cannabis. However, recent years have witnessed a renewed focus on cannabis, specifically its medicinal potential. The Chinese government has initiated research and development projects exploring cannabis-based pharmaceuticals, with a particular emphasis on cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive compound of the plant.


Delving into the rich history of cannabis in China unveils its enduring significance in various aspects of Chinese culture. From its ancient origins as a versatile resource to its integral role in traditional medicine and spiritual practices, cannabis has left an indelible mark on Chinese society. As medical cannabis patients in the UK, exploring the historical context and cultural significance of cannabis in China can deepen our understanding of this remarkable plant’s potential benefits.


1. “Cannabis in Chinese Medicine: Are Some Traditional Indications Referenced in Ancient Literature Related to Cannabinoids?” – Journal of Ethnopharmacology

2. “Cannabis in Chinese Medicine: Are Some Traditional Indications Referenced in Ancient Literature Related to Cannabinoids?” – ResearchGate

3. “Cannabis in Chinese Medicine” – The Botanical Source

4. “The History of Cannabis in China: An Ancient Plant with Many Uses” – The Third Wave

Disclaimer: This blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Consult with healthcare professionals before using cannabis for medicinal purposes, and adhere to the regulations and guidelines set by the relevant authorities.

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Bhang and indian milk drink infused with cannabis in a glass on a tray, surrounded by colourful spices and cannabis leaves.

Ancient Roots of Cannabis in India


Welcome back to our “History of Cannabis” series on the Sanskara website. In this instalment, we explore the ancient roots of cannabis in India, shedding light on its historical significance and cultural associations. As medical cannabis patients in the UK, understanding the rich heritage of this plant provides valuable insights into its historical uses and potential benefits.

Ancient India: A Hub of Cannabis Usage

Ancient India holds a prominent place in cannabis history, with references to its usage dating back thousands of years. Cannabis, known as “ganja” or “bhang,” played diverse roles in Indian society, encompassing religious, medicinal, and cultural dimensions.

Religious Significance

Cannabis held a sacred status in ancient Indian religious traditions. The Vedas, ancient Hindu scriptures, mention ceremonial cannabis use in religious rituals. It was believed to facilitate spiritual experiences, meditation, and divine connection. (1)

Medicinal Applications

Ayurveda, the ancient Indian holistic healing system, recognised cannabis’ therapeutic properties. Ayurvedic texts mention cannabis use for pain relief, inflammation, digestive disorders, and neurological conditions. (2)

Cultural Practices

Cannabis intertwined with various cultural practices in ancient India. The preparation of “bhang,” a cannabis-infused drink, became popular during festivities like Holi. Bhang induced joy, celebration, and communal bonding. (3)
Continued Influence

The historical significance of cannabis in ancient India resonates even today. Spiritual and cultural associations with cannabis persist among communities, including the Sadhus (holy men) in India, who incorporate cannabis into their spiritual practices.


The ancient roots of cannabis in India reveal a rich tapestry of religious, medicinal, and cultural significance. Its use spanned millennia, leaving an indelible mark on Indian society. As medical cannabis patients in the UK, exploring the historical context of cannabis in India allows us to appreciate its diverse properties and potential benefits.

Join us for the next instalment in our “History of Cannabis” series as we continue to explore the cultural connections and historical use of cannabis worldwide.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Patients should consult healthcare professionals before using cannabis for medicinal purposes, following regulations and guidelines set by UK authorities.

“Cannabis in Ancient Indian Religion and Society” by N. R. Madhusudana Reddy (Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 1980)

“Cannabis in Ayurveda: The Ancient Science of Healing and Medicine” by P. S. Rajput (International Journal of Green Pharmacy, 2013)

“Bhang: A Historical and Cultural Perspective” by A. G. Khan (The British Journal of Psychiatry, 2004)

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    Exploring the Historical Significance of Cannabis in Islamic Culture – Uncover cannabis in Islamic culture: history, uses, perspectives

    Uncover cannabis in Islamic culture: history, uses, perspectives

    Exploring the Historical Significance of Cannabis in Islamic Culture

    Uncover cannabis in Islamic culture, history, uses & perspectives


    Cannabis, with its multifaceted history, has left an indelible mark on various cultures worldwide. In this inclusive blog post, we embark on a journey to uncover the historical significance of cannabis within Islamic culture, while also providing a broader cross-cultural perspective. Through extensive research and factual information, we aim to shed light on this captivating relationship, catering to both Muslim and non-Muslim readers.

    Cannabis in Islamic Medicine

    Cannabis holds a notable place in the history of Islamic medicine. Early Islamic scholars such as Ibn Sina (Avicenna) and Al-Razi (Rhazes) extensively documented the therapeutic properties of cannabis in their medical texts. They explored its potential in pain relief, reducing inflammation, and treating various ailments. (1)

    Traditional Uses and Cultural Customs

    Cannabis found its way into diverse traditional practices influenced by Islamic culture. For instance, Sufis, an Islamic mystical group, sometimes employed cannabis as a tool to enhance spiritual experiences, meditation, and devotion. These practices aimed to induce a state of tranquility and transcendence. (2)

    Islamic Perspectives and Cannabis

    The historical approach towards cannabis within Islamic societies varies, reflecting diverse interpretations and evolving social contexts. While some scholars emphasised its medicinal benefits and religious associations, others expressed concerns about its potential misuse and intoxicating effects. It is essential to recognise that perspectives on cannabis within Islam are not uniform and may differ across regions and sects. (3)

    Cross-Cultural Insights

    Examining cannabis in Islamic culture can provide valuable cross-cultural insights. Its historical significance extends beyond religious contexts and intertwines with global narratives of plant medicine, ancient trade routes, and cultural exchange. By understanding the historical role of cannabis within Islamic culture, we gain a broader appreciation for its impact on human civilisation as a whole.

    Contemporary Perspectives

    In contemporary times, attitudes towards cannabis within Islamic societies exhibit a range of stances, influenced by social, cultural, and legal factors. While some countries strictly prohibit its use, including both recreational and medicinal purposes, others have embraced medical cannabis, recognising its therapeutic potential and aligning it with Islamic principles when used under professional guidance. (4)


    Exploring the historical significance of cannabis within Islamic culture offers us a chance to appreciate the cultural and medicinal contributions of this plant. By adopting a cross-cultural perspective, we enrich our understanding of cannabis and its impact on different societies. It is important to approach this topic with sensitivity, recognising the diversity of Islamic perspectives and the broader historical context in which cannabis has played a significant role.


    1. Avicenna, The Canon of Medicine.
    2. Ernst, C. W., & Spatz, B. (2004). Cannabis and the Sufis. Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics, 4(3-4), 95-102.
    3. ElSohly, M. A., & Slade, D. (2005). Chemical constituents of marijuana: the complex mixture of natural cannabinoids. Life sciences, 78(5), 539-548.
    4. Cannabis in the Islamic World: Modernity, Charlatanry, and the Making of Global Drug Regimes.” The Muslim World, 2020, 1-22.
    Disclaimer: This blog post provides factual historical information and foster understanding, promoting cultural appreciation and cross-cultural dialogue. For a comprehensive understanding of the Islamic perspective on cannabis, it is recommended to consult reliable religious sources and engage in respectful conversations with members of the Islamic community. It is not intended as medical or religious advice. For specific medical or religious inquiries, it is recommended to consult with qualified professionals and refer to reliable religious sources within the Islamic tradition.

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