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Ways People Used Cannabis Throughout History

You smoke it and eat it for fun, sure, but have you ever seen some of the crazy ways people used cannabis in the past?

The benefits of medical marijuana have been documented for as long as humanity has been alive. Cannabis has been considered a medicinal herb for millennia, with some historic records showing evidence of medicinal use dating as far back as 3,000 BC. 

Prior to cannabis' illegalization, smoking a joint was considered a great way to relax and help soothe any aches you may have had after a hard day of working in the field. You might have been aware that people smoked cannabis for fun in the past, but that's not all they did.

Cannabis has seen its fair share of weird uses throughout history, and sometimes, it's hard to believe how creative people got with it. Take a look at some of the weird, wacky ways people used cannabis in the past. 

Much like hemp, cannabis was used to make clothing and rope.

Both hemp and cannabis have pretty tough fibers, which is why people still enjoy using hemp to create high-durability ropes and clothes today. Unsurprisingly, one of the most common ways people used cannabis throughout history was as a cloth fiber. 

These days, that trend is coming back. Though, if you look at hemp clothes, that trend never left!

Childbirth Aid

Modern obstetricians would be horrified to see a woman smoking up a joint or hitting the pipe while they give birth, but in ancient India, this was the norm. Cannabis was the go-to choice for women who were giving birth up until the 19th century.

It's worth pointing out that the pain-relieving properties of cannabis were known for millennia. It was also used as a pretty popular anesthetic in China since as early as 140 BC. 


You may have made Burnie Brownies, smoked some serious Sour Diesel, and even tried your hand at cannabis-infused drinks. But, we're willing to bet that you didn't try one of the ways people used cannabis in ancient Egypt—they boofed it.

The suppositories that Egyptians used were designed to help with hemorrhoids. Yikes. 

Oracle's Herb

In ancient Greece, one of the most famous people were the Oracles of Delphi. The Oracles of Delphi were priestesses that were handpicked by Greek religious figures and would be left in a trancelike state throughout their lives. 

The Oracles were known for inhaling smoke that had a soporific herb effect, which would make them utter phrases that would later be interpreted by priests that specialized in divination. Royals of all kinds came to the Oracles to find out what would happen. 

It's not fully certain what the mixture of herbs is, but one of them has been deduced to be cannabis. 

Hair Loss Treatment

Traditional Chinese medicine named cannabis as one of the most potent medical herbs in the world. It was used as an anesthetic, disinfectant, and was featured as a primary ingredient for dozens of other treatments.

One of the more unusual ways people used cannabis in China, though, was as a cure for baldness. Perhaps there's some truth to the idea of having a head full of long hippie hair? 

Offering to Deities

The Oracles at Delphi weren't the only people to concoct crazy ways people used cannabis in the name of religion. Ancient Egypt viewed cannabis as a holy herb that was regularly featured in religious rituals and festivities. 

Two Egyptian goddesses in particular are known for being major fans of cannabis. Seshat, the goddess of wisdom, was regularly featured with cannabis depiction near her. Bast, the goddess of cats, was also seen as a huge cannabis fan. 

Wine Additive

As early as ancient Greece and ancient Rome, people were using cannabis as a wine additive. At the time, cannabis was colloquially called "the laughing plant" when it was used as an additive for wine.

The effects were known for being very intoxicating, to say the least!

These days, it is possible to find cannabis-infused drink recipes online. Whether or not you can do the same thing with wine without it tasting bad, though, remains to be seen. 

Symbol of Purity

Japan currently has some of the toughest anti-drug laws on the books, but this wasn't always the case. Back before cannabis banning gained traction, the herb was seen as a symbol of purity throughout Japan. 

At one point in Japan, women would wear bridal veils made out of the plant as a way to signify that they were pure. This tradition was erased, but Japanese weddings still remain impressively beautiful. 

Car Fuel

Wait, what?

Shocking and bizarre as it may be, rumor has it that this was one of the most unorthodox ways people used cannabis and hemp during the 1940s. As a pet project, Henry Ford invented a car that ran on a biofuel made from hemp.

The fuel was actually made of a variety of different ingredients, including cellulose, soybeans, ramie, and of course, hemp. It's quite possible he also experimented with cannabis for the car's unique fuel. 

Pharmaceutical Ingredient

While most people assume this is one of the newest ways people used cannabis, you might want to think again. Prior to the "green" Prohibition movement of the 1910s and 1920s, cannabis was a very welcome ingredient in the United States Pharmacopeia.

Some of the cannabis treatments the 1851 United States Pharmacopeia dealt with included pain, hysteria, epilepsy, and depression. Maybe it's time we let history repeat itself?  

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