Where did Cannabis Come From? Scientists Provided a Possible Answer

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New research provides data on a much older existence of cannabis, possibly millions of years ago. The fact that the plant originates from Central Asia is a well-known fact now, but documents dating to the middle ages depict humans theorizing about the geographical provenience of cannabis. The papers disclose the suggestion of renown Arab intellect Ibn Wahshiyya which hypothesized back in 930 CE that India or China could be the original land cannabis is coming from.

However, because the print fossils are so rare, the scientists were unable to identify anything else than Central Asia, even with the flourishing use of cannabis on multiple academic and scientific study fields. The research team conducted by the first author and medical researcher John McPartland at the University of Vermont explains that the categorization of cannabis and its origin place is still unknown even with significant volumes of literature showing up in the last thirty years.

Researchers found another approach to study the plant’s history and origins: they took pollen from the cannabis genus, first analyzed since the 1930s. Diverse fossil pollen researches have been carried out since then, aiding in the identification of old notes of the plant all over Asia and elsewhere, along with records where it grows best.

The researchers write in their paper that it has been concluded that the plant thrives in steppes, which is an open and vegetation-less environment.

Scientists might have found where cannabis comes from

McPartland and his colleagues went through 155 fossil pollen analyses focused on Asia. They discovered a challenging hump with the records as several of these studies lump Cannabis pollen grains with those from Humulus genus. They look almost identical, indeed, given the fact that both plants deviated from each other approximately 28 million years back.

The team utilized a statistical method that involves ‘ecological proxies’ to solve the identification difficulties. This technique allowed them to ​probabilistically ​differentiate the pollens predicated on other plants which were common in the area, along with those labeled as Artemisia genus.

Based on the evidence found so far, the results imply that the region of the northeastern Tibetan Plateau could be the place where the Artemisia genus first appeared. However, even having so much information, this is a theory that can never be proven.
The research team then concluded that the plant spread to the west, reaching Russia and Europe, approximately 6 million years ago, and then went to eastern China, about 1.2 million years back.

This expansion of the plant made it available for cultivation all over Eurasia, humans using it for its numerous proprieties, from mind-altering stimulant to texture used to create clothing and ropes. The research was published in the journal Vegetation History and Archaeobotany.