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The Feels Ep. 10: Cannabis History

 March 12, 2022  Written by Feel State
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Join Florissant budtenders Dr. Bex Johnson and Jeff Rowse for their chat about cannabis history at Feel State Florissant, recorded live on 1/3/22.

0:00 Leafly's 2021 Jobs Report
1:58 Welcome
2:52 Origins of Cannabis
3:07 Trace Cannabis on Israel Altars
3:45 Emperor Adds Cannabis to Chinese Medical Encyclopedia
4:04 Cannabis Stash Discovered in Chinese Cemetery
4:30 What is CBN?
5:00 Cannabis in the Greek Medical Textbook
5:49 Cannabis in the World's First Encyclopedia
6:24 What is a decoction?
6:40 Feel State Carries FECO
6:52 Cannabis was Used in Chinese Surgeries
7:39 Cannabis in the Vedas between 1500-500BC
8:16 Cannabis and the Indian God Shiva
8:56 Cannabis Treats at Greek Symposiums
9:12 Scythians Smoked Cannabis After a Death
9:45 Cannabis in The Bible
10:28 Carl Linnaeus and Cannabis Taxonomy
11:42 Russian Botanist Identifies Ruderalis
12:33 New Chemovars at Feel State
13:46 Chatting with our Audience
16:54 How were "indica" and "sativa" named?
18:54 Flavonoids in Cannabis
19:41 What ratio products do you carry?
22:29 About Dr. Raphael Mechoulam
24:17 How should a medical student learn about cannabis?

Prefer to read this conversation about cannabis history? Check out the transcript below!

BEX: Good evening everyone. I’m Dr. Bex and with me, as always, is the dashing Jeff Rowse. Every Monday round this time we will be discussing a different cannabis topic. But, before we get to tonight’s topic, Jeff and I just want to thank all of our viewers. You guys are why we do this. We want y’all to be more educated about cannabis and you tune in week after week to learn more.

JEFF: For real. Thank you everyone. Two hundred seventy seven views on the Gram, over a thousand on the Book. Knowing that there is going to be an audience there makes it so much easier to write the show. It also gives me the motivation to write the show because I know there is going to be an audience there. So thank you again for tuning in every week. If we have any first timers tuning in…Welcome to the Feels. Today’s topic is cannabis history.

BEX: To find out about the origins of cannabis, we need to set the way back machine to twenty twenty. We know this seems like forever ago, but don’t worry, we’re actually going much further back in time! It was in twenty twenty that two limestone altars were unearthed in Israel’s Negev desert believed to date back to twenty seven hundred B.C.

JEFF: Scientists discovered trace amounts of THC, CBD, and CBN on the surfaces of the altars. They also found trace elements of animal dung which was mixed with the cannabis to help it burn. Seriously. Google dry dung fuel. Now, it is theorized that the temple the altars were found in was built for the specific purpose of taking people higher.

BEX: Oddly enough, this was also right around the time in history when Emperor Shen Neng added ‘ma’ or cannabis to the Pen Ts’ao, the Chinese medical encyclopedia. He described it as an interesting medicine in that it had female (Yin) and male (Yang) qualities.

JEFF: Prior to the discovery in Israel, the former ‘oldest stash’ title holder was found in 2019 in a cemetery located in the Pamir Mountains of Western China. In the cemetery, ten scorched, wooden bowls were dug up that contained stones with burn marks on them. These items were dated to twenty five hundred B.C. and evidence of CBN was found.

BEX: A quick reminder to our viewers, CBN is a minor cannabinoid that has wonderful anti-inflammatory, anti-insomnia and anti-bacterial properties. It's also what THC turns into when it gets old. So, if you find an old nug in the back of your sock drawer, there’s a good chance it's going to put you to sleep. So consume accordingly. 

JEFF: Next, we skip ahead to Dioscorides, a Greek military physician, who wrote “De Materia Medica”, a medical textbook that was translated into multiple languages over the years. In an english translation, there was the following description of cannabis, “Cannabis is a plant of much use in this life for ye twistings of very strong ropes, it bears leaves like to the Ash, of a bad scent, long stalks, a round seed which being eaten of much doth quench geniture, but being juiced when it is green is good for the pains of the ears.”

BEX: A contemporary of Dioscorides was Pliny the Elder. He was a Roman naturalist and natural philosopher. He also wrote the world's first encyclopedia; collection of thirty books entitled Natural Histories. Books twelve through nineteen were concerned with botany. Hemp was mentioned throughout, but he also remarked about cannabis that, “a decoction of the root in water could be used to relieve stiffness in the joints, gout, and related conditions.” 

JEFF: A decoction is the extracted essence of a substance created by heating or boiling, especially a medicinal preparation made from a plant. Substitute grain alcohol for water and it sounds an awful lot like FECO, or full extract cannabis oil.

BEX: Moving forward to the beginning of the third century takes us to Wah Toe; a Chinese physician and surgeon. Back then, surgery was looked down upon as something a lower class doctor might perform. Wah Toe disagreed. He became the first Chinese surgeon to operate on the abdomen including performing splenectomies and colostomies.

JEFF: He was also the first person in recorded history to use anesthesia during surgery. It was called mafeisan and is a combination of the Chinese words ma for’ cannabis’, fei for ‘boiling’ and san for ‘medicine in powder form’. Wah Toe was also a pioneer of hydrotherapy and “physio” or physical therapy. 

BEX: Therapeutic indications of cannabis are also mentioned in the Vedas, sacred religious texts of the Indian Hindus written between fifteen hundred and five hundred B.C. The texts are the oldest to be written in Sanskrit and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism.

JEFF: According to The Vedas, cannabis was one of five sacred plants. A guardian angel lived inside its leaves. The Vedas call cannabis a source of happiness, a joy-giver, and a liberator that was compassionately given to humans to help attain delight and to lose fear.

BEX: Cannabis is also associated with the Indian God Shiva. It is said that on a particularly hot day, Shiva got into an argument with his family and went for a walk in the fields. He took shade under a leafy plant and fell asleep. When he woke up, he sampled the leaves. He found it fully rejuvenated him and from then on, he incorporated it into his diet. Eventually, Shiva became known as the Lord of Bong.

JEFF: The Greeks were also fond of cannabis. The Greek comic poet, Ip-hip-us, refers to the recreational use of cannabis in a list of snacks consumed while drinking at a symposium. Among the snacks listed is a confection of cannabis seeds and honey. 

BEX: In the fifth century BC, the writer, geographer, and historian, Herodotus, wrote that inhaling cannabis smoke was customary among Scythians after the death of a member of their group.

JEFF: He described the practice thusly, “The Scythians...take some of this hemp-seed, and, creeping under the felt coverings, throw it upon the red-hot stones; immediately it smokes, and gives out such a vapour as no Grecian vapour-bath can exceed; the Scyths, delighted, shout for joy.”

BEX: It is also written that cannabis was used in the times of Jesus. In the book of Exodus, chapter thirty, versus twenty two through twenty three it says, “Take the following fine spices: 500 shekels of liquid myrrh, half as much of fragrant cinnamon, 250 shekels of fragrant calamus, 500 shekels of cassia and a hint of olive oil. Make these into a sacred anointing oil.” Now, many historians believe the Aramaic word for calamus, kaneh bosem, was a mistranslation of the Hebrew word for cannabis; kanabos.

JEFF: Now we’re going to set the Tardis controls to seventeen fifty three and Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus. Linnaeus is most famous for his work in taxonomy; the science of identifying, naming and classifying organisms into kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species. He also invented the binomial naming system which gives every species two names.

BEX: For example, homo sapiens. Or in the case of cannabis; cannabis sativa.

Linneaus considered the genus, cannabis, to be monotypic, or having just a single species. But Linnaeus was only familiar with European hemp, which was widely cultivated at the time. 

JEFF: In 1785, noted evolutionary biologist Jean-Baptiste de Lamarck published a description of a second species of Cannabis, which he named Cannabis indica. He was given samples of Indian cannabis that bore distinct differences from Linnaeus’ species. Lamarck described cannabis indica as having poorer fiber quality than cannabis sativa, but greater utility as an inebriant.

BEX: We come to the end of our history lesson in 1924, when the Russian botanist D. E. Janischevsky identified the species Cannabis Ruderalis. Janischevskyv recognized that local Russian plants did not fit the characteristics of cannabis sativa or cannabis indica, but fell within the cannabis taxonomy. He named the short, wild Russian autoflowering plants cannabis ruderalis, describing the visible differences in seed shape and growth structure.

JEFF: Well, that covers the history of cannabis. I know we missed a ton, so if anyone out there has something to add to the timeline, let us know in the comments section. What else can we talk about Doc?

BEX: We have a new chemovar in the house. Gator Breath by Flora. It clocks in at twenty two point one eight percent THC and a touch of CBD at zero point zero five percent.

JEFF: This is also the last month you can make a donation here at Feel State to help TEAM; The Emergency Assistance Ministry. They are helping to feed the citizens of St. Louis County that need it the most. So please come by the dispensary and make a non-perishable food donation.

BEX: Why don’t we check with our producer, Corey, to see if anyone out there has any questions.

JEFF: Tune in Monday, Jan. 10th ‘round 5:30 pm for episode eleven of The Feels where Dr. Bex and I will be talking with Corey Sanson and Bryan Gilmer, the co-founders of Curador. The boys stop by The Feels for an in-depth interview about all things Head Change, Safe Bet, and AIRO.

Questions from the Audience

  • How were "indica" and "sativa" named?
  • What ratio products do you carry?
  • How should a medical student learn about cannabis?

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