Weed is historical, man. Literally. A study out Wednesday in the journal Science Advances shows that people were consuming cannabis as far back as 2,500 years ago—the earliest concrete evidence of potheadism.
People have always known weed to be ancient, especially when it comes to hemp fibers, but we’ve rarely found archaeological evidence to support the tales of ancient cannabis smoking. A global team of researchers—from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Germany—found THC compounds in incense burners used for funerals in a cemetery in the eastern Pamir Mountains of Central Asia.
The dopest part? These weren’t even low dosages as some might suspect of our ancestors. Even back then, we humans were searching for that good shit. The team of scientists found that the plants used were typically higher in THC.
Did Ancient Humans Smoke Weed?
That poses a major question that remains: How did these plants appear? Like… were they cultivated or gathered from the wild? The high-THC content may suggest the former, but it could be that these people just knew what strains to gather: the ones with higher THC levels, baby.
Before this evidence, the psychoactive use of cannabis in ancient times has been a giant question mark. But once these archaeologists unearthed these old wood burners, they began to investigate what exactly was burned. They isolated the compounds using science and were surprised to discover cannabis was their mystery item.
The location of the cannabis indicates that our ancestors weren’t necessarily smoking this to induce some munchies; the reasons were likely much more spiritual. Simply, it was about celebrating those who have passed into the next realm. Why not do so high?
“The findings support the idea that cannabis plants were first used for their psychoactive compounds in the mountainous regions of eastern Central Asia, thereafter spreading to other regions of the world,” said Nicole Boivin, the director at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, in a statement.
The Earliest Tokers
The scientists believe these early smokers spread their love via the Silk Road (like most else in that time). They can’t be sure, but many believe that the Pamir region was a major point of trade for the route where cultures were traded along with more material items.
“The exchange routes of the early Silk Road functioned more like the spokes of a wagon wheel than a long-distance road, placing Central Asia at the heart of the ancient world,” said lead archaeobotanist Robert Spengler of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, in a statement. “Our study implies that knowledge of cannabis smoking and specific high- chemical-producing varieties of the cannabis plant were among the cultural traditions that spread along these exchange routes.”
Smoking weed is apparently a key pillar to human life. OK, maybe that’s a stretch, but the plant definitely shares a relationship with us that we are still only beginning to understand. Research like this can help shift the stigma associated with cannabis. As more and more states begin to legalize its recreational use, such studies remind us that the plant maybe should’ve never been criminalized to start with.