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CBD has a long and storied past. Hemp cultivation was discovered in an ancient village in Taiwan dating back over 10,000 years.1 Thought by some to be one of the first plants ever cultivated by humans, hemp played an important role throughout much of human history. Carl Sagan even stated that hemp may have been the first ever agricultural crop and may have lead to the development of civilization.

“It would be really interesting if in human history the cultivation of marijuana led generally to the invention of agriculture, and thereby to civilization.”

– carl saganThe Dragons of Eden Speculations on the Origin of Human Intelligence
The first reported use of hemp or cannabis dates back to around 2700 BC in ancient China.2 The Chinese emperor Shen Yeng believed that hemp had medicinal properties and could be used for a wide variety of ailments. He frequently drank tea made with the plant. Considered by many to be the father of Chinese medicine, Yeng authored a text known as the Pen Ts’au. This text is still used by practitioners of Chinese medicine. It was one of the first medical texts to make reference to the Cannabis plant. Many priests and people being treated by Chinese doctors at the time would have been given a form of Cannabis for their maladies.3
As the popularity of cannabis in China surged, it moved into India. The ancient Indian text, the Atharvaveda, listed it as a sacred and holy plant. As the Romans began their devastating military campaigns around North Africa, Europe, and Asia Minor, they discovered hemp in many of the regions they conquered. A Greek physician known as Pedacius Dioscorides accompanied the Romans on many of their campaigns. He gathered many of the plants he discovered in foreign lands and studied them as potential herbal treatments. He took what he learned and put it into book form. This book became known as the Materia Medica.
It discussed over 600 different plants and their various effects. In the Materia Medica, he listed cannabis as one the plants that held medical potential.4 Hemp and cannabis continued to spread throughout much of the European, Arabic, and Chinese worlds for the next thousand years. In the 12th century, it had spread throughout Egypt and much of Africa. In the 1500’s, growing hemp was actually required by all farmers in England. Not growing hemp could result in a substantial fine. As explorers ventured into the Americas, they brought hemp and introduced it into the new cultures that were forming. During the early times of colonial America, people used hemp as a means of creating rope, clothing, and other materials. After 1700, hemp was again used as a way of treating medical conditions. In 1753, Hemp was given its scientific name, Cannabis Sativa, by Swedish scientist, Linnaeus. For thousands of years, hemp and Cannabis were used as medicine, for textiles and fabrics, and were a major part of everyday life.Negative propaganda surrounding cannabis began to surface in the United States and the western world throughout the early 1900’s. With early films and propaganda pieces like the infamous Reefer Madness popping up in 1936, the public’s opinion of cannabis began to change.


This smear campaign was furthered by William Randolph Herst, a newspaper owner who also had a significant stake in the timber industry. Hemp was a potential threat to his timber business for paper production. He encouraged advertising and articles in his newspapers citing the dangers of cannabis. Some of these articles were later used by congress in their decision to ban hemp. Because of Harry Anslinger, director of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics from 1930 to 1962, cannabis and hemp began to be referred to as marijuana. Anslinger was a staunch critic of the plant. He wanted legislation to get passed to ban the plant and make it illegal for all uses. He knew that by referring to it as “marijuana” rather than cannabis, he could create a narrative that the plant was something foreign that was “invading” the United States, rather than accurately portraying it as something that had been used within the country for hundreds of years. The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 banned both hemp and cannabis from being sold in the United States.

the discovery of cbd

CBD was discovered within the hemp plant in the 1940’s. Dr. Roger Adams’ team at the University of Illinois were the first to discover the compound. However, Dr. Adams and his team did not realize what exactly they had discovered. Raphael Mechoulam realized that scientists had discovered the isolated compounds that gave opium and the coca leaf their intoxicating properties and was confused as to why the same had not been done with cannabis. He successfully isolated cannabidiol, mapped out its structure, and began studying its properties and effects in 1963. Many people consider Dr. Mechoulam to be the godfather of cannabis. He discovered THC and isolated it in 1964. He also was the first scientist to begin testing isolated cannabinoids on primates and humans. In 1980, he conducted the first study examining the effects of cannabis on patients with epilepsy. This first study proved to lay the groundwork for much of the research into cannabis for medicinal purposes that would take place over the coming years. Mechoulam, now 87, continues to study cannabis and CBD and encourage greater education about its potential benefits. Mechoulam and many other scientists continued to question how CBD, THC, and the other hundreds of cannabinoids found in cannabis worked within the human body. In 1988, the first cannabinoid receptor was discovered. This was the first discovery that recognized the endocannabinoid system within mammals. Throughout the 90’s more research was done on the endocannabinoid system and the essential role that it plays within the human body and regulating health.


Today enormous amounts of research are being done on CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids present within cannabis and hemp.

CBD and hemp may have the potential to radically alter the way we view human health and treat disease.

The story of cannabis and hemp are rife with conflict and celebration. The story will continue on into the foreseeable future until the majority understands the vast number of potential medicinal and wellness related uses.