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Cannabis Culture

10 Facts About Marijuana

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Forget the federal government. Half of the states have eased up on cannabis restrictions. That makes it easier to grow, sell, and use the plants. The scientific community also benefits as they now could perform more clinical studies using previously banned substances. Amidst the rising popularity, there are still many facts about marijuana that you may not have heard about.

It does not matter if you are a newcomer to the 420 community. Even some people who have delved with cannabis might be surprised to see some of the facts presented here.

10 Interesting Facts About Marijuana

Cannabis has been controversial in the past century. Despite all the literature published, there are still many things we do not know about it. Here are marijuana facts that you should find interesting.

1. It has Mysterious Origins

Who discovered the powerful effects of marijuana? No one knows for sure. But several pieces of evidence point to the Chinese as among its earliest users.

Case in point: the oldest known record on cannabis use dates back to around 2700 BC in ancient China. Emperor Shen Nung supposedly discovered the healing abilities of weed, then used it medicinally. There are no actual records of his experiments, however. Even his existence is also dubious since the first emperor of a united China was Qin Shi Huan, born much later at around 260 BC. Other earliest examples of written Chinese characters only arrived between 1200 BC and 1050 BC.

For these reasons, the story of Shen Nung appears to be a myth more than anything else. Still, other references to the Chinese could cement its putative role, such as the use of hemp fibers in Taiwan about 10,000 years ago.

2. Hemp and Marijuana are Two Different Things

Both hemp and marijuana came from Cannabis Sativa. To the untrained eye, they may look (or even smell) the same. But in terms of chemical makeup, usage, and legality, the two are worlds apart.

Due to certain genetic changes, hemp produces very little to no tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the compound responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis. Marijuana, on the other hand, is packed with THC, leaving users feeling high, whereas hemp does not.

Many countries differentiate the two via the total THC produced by dry weight. In the United States, for instance, the Farm Bill states that hemp should not contain more than 0.3 percent THC. If so, then the plant is legal. Any higher than that is considered marijuana and may be subject to penalties depending on the state you are in.

3. Hemp has Surprising Uses

Hemp has been used for tens of thousands of years for commercial and industrial purposes, with each plant part serving various applications. The stem, for example, could be spun into fiber, which is then used to create textiles, rope, paper, and building materials. As for hemp seeds, it can be used as a food product or incorporated into skincare products. Lastly, hemp leaves and flowers – which are rich sources of CBD – are often prepared as CBD oils or tinctures.

4. The Origin of the Word “Marijuana” is Vague

In more ways than one, the word marijuana – sometimes spelled as marihuana, mariguana, and marihuano – has always been controversial. Now, it is often used interchangeably with cannabis. Others, however, refuse to use “the M-word,” declaring it to be racist. Nonetheless, the term has a complicated history, and there is no definitive answer regarding its origins.

There is no doubt that the Mexicans introduced “marijuana” to American English when they immigrated to the US in the 1900s. It is not clear where the Mexicans themselves got it, though.

One theory is that it is derived from the names María and Juan – the Spanish versions of Mary and Jane. Others suggest that it originated from ethnic groups in South or Central America. Or, it could be ancient Chinese traders, who reportedly called cannabis “ma ren hua” (or “hemp seed flower”) when they brought it to American lands.

5. Marijuana has More Names than You can Remember

One proof of the longstanding history and legacy of cannabis is the hundreds of names it has garnered through the years. The most well-known ones include marijuana, weed, pot, herb, bud, dope, and Mary Jane. There are, however, other quirky monikers and slangs. These include dank, doobie, fatty, schwag, and space cake – words that sound like a foreign language to non-users.

Why does the 420 community have such an extensive vocabulary?

There are many reasons. It could be due to scientific profiling, geographical and/or cultural differences, or as a way to pay homage to renowned cannabis-related figures. It may even refer to the strain lineage or parentage, the effects of the cultivar, the product type, or the quality of the bud. In some cases, the fabricated labels are used as a means to evade the notice of authorities.

6. It is Less Harmful than Other Drugs and Substances

A 2015 study found that cannabis is far less dangerous compared to other illicit drugs, including alcohol, nicotine, cocaine, heroin, opiates, ecstasy, and amphetamine-type stimulants, among others. Alcohol, in particular, is the deadliest, presenting the highest risk of death, whereas weed is the least risky.

7. Modern Marijuana Can be Incredibly Potent

In the 1970s, the average THC level of marijuana strains was around 1%. This number rose to nearly 4% in the late 1990s. In 2014, the highest THC level you could obtain was about 12%. By 2017, the potency increased even more to approximately 17%.

Today, the THC concentration may skyrocket to as high as 34%, which means that modern cannabis can be 30 times stronger than weed 50 years ago. By and large, this soaring potency is a result of selective breeding, innovative growing practices (such as the production of sensimilla), and better cultivation processes (including the use of high-tech indoor equipment), among others. Add to this is the rising customer demand for more potent weed, which cultivators and breeders continuously try to meet.

8. The Effects of Cannabis May Depend on Sex

In a 2014 experiment involving rodents, researchers found that adult female rats were more sensitive to the pain-relieving properties of THC – the primary psychoactive component of cannabis plants – than adult males. On the flip side, they were also more at risk of developing tolerance and dependence. The higher estrogen levels of females likely played a role in the sex-related discrepancies in cannabinoid effects.

It suggests that weed could be an entirely different experience for men and women. This claim, though, is yet to be proven.

9. You Can Be Allergic to Cannabis

Like any other plant, cannabis can also cause allergic reactions.

As early as 1983, a study has already noted that marijuana pollen can cause skin hypersensitivity. Most of the affected individuals, however, were also sensitive to other airborne plant irritants.

In 2015, researchers concluded that while relatively rare, cannabis pollen or smoke could indeed trigger allergies in some people. Most of the commonly reported symptoms were typical allergic reactions, such as hay fever, red and itchy eyes, and eczema. In a few cases, though, it induced anaphylaxis – a life-threatening response that may result in breathing difficulties or even death.

10. The Link Between Marijuana and Religion

Cannabis has intriguing ties to some religious beliefs, particularly Hinduism and Rastafarianism.

In Hinduism, ancient Hindu scriptures have listed weed as one of the five sacred plants, describing it as a liberator and a source of joy. The god Shiva is also associated with bhang – a type of cannabis preparation that originates from India – and even became known as the Lord of Bhang. Lastly, the plant plays a vital role in many religious rites and festivals.

Meanwhile, in Rastafari or Rastafarianism, marijuana – locally known as ganja – is considered a sacred and sacramental plant, as well as a way to gain wisdom. It is also believed to be the healing herb or the “Tree of Life” frequently mentioned in the Bible. The followers of this religion are free to use the bud religiously or medicinally.

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