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Cannabis Use Is Far From A New Thing In Italy

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Humans have a long history with the cannabis plant. Hemp fiber was used as far back as 10,000 years ago during the Early Jomon Period in Japan. Consumption for medical purposes goes back at least as far as back as 2,800 BC. Cannabis was included in Emperor Shen Nung’s (regarded as the father of Chinese medicine) pharmacopeia around that time.

Putting humans’ use of the cannabis plant in that context really highlights how recent of a public policy phenomenon cannabis prohibition is. Make no mistake, cannabis is not prohibited because it holds ‘no medical value’ and it is not prohibited because of scientifically backed reasoning. It is prohibited due to the special interests of a handful of people, including lawmakers.

Archeologists in Italy recently conducted a project in which they examined bones dating back to the 1,600s. They reportedly found traces of cannabinoids, demonstrating that cannabis use in Italy has occurred for a very long time. Per Popular Mechanics:

“This study reports the first physical evidence of cannabis use in Modern Age in Italy, but also in Europe,” wrote the authors of the study detailing this discovery. The study was published in the Journal of Archaeological Science, and chronicles the group’s toxicological analyses on human remains that were located in a Milan hospital crypt.

“The presence of these two alkaloids evidences the use of the cannabis plant in the Italian population during the 17thcentury,” the authors wrote. After investigating the archived documentation of the hospital, the team found that cannabis was not administered as a medical treatment during the 1600s. “Thus, we hypothesize that the subjects under investigation used cannabis as a recreational substance,” the study said. The researchers caution, however, that they can’t rule out other sources of exposure related to medical treatments outside of the hospital.

A project in 2019 in western China also found evidence of the use of high-THC cannabis, with archeologists also discovering a smoking apparatus during the project that was used for consuming cannabis.
“It is quite likely that people came across cannabis plants at higher elevations that were naturally producing higher THC levels.” the researchers stated. Ancient artwork and references from Syria to China hint at an even earlier date of human cannabis use.