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FAQ: How Far Back in History does Using Cannabis Medicinally Go?

It is hard to credit any certain civilization for the exact first use of Cannabis, but it is worth noting that in the first culture to develop a practical form of writing, Cannabis is referenced: The Sumerians (southern Mesopotamia or Iraq) in around 3000 BC.⁣

⁣The earliest Medicinal evidence of the plant is dated to 2800 BCE from the Chinese medical compilation, Pen Ts’ao. Chinese emperor Shen-Nung, referred to as the father of Chinese medicine, prescribed chu-ma (the female THC-producing Cannabis plant, as opposed to the male ma). He even went so far as to deem it one of the “Superior Elixirs of Immortality” (Bennett, 2010).⁣

Chinese Surgeon Hua T’o, who according to the Records of Three Kingdoms (c. AD 270) and the Book of the Later Han (c. AD 430), performed surgery almost 2000 years ago under general anesthesia using a formula he had developed by mixing wine with a mixture of herbal extracts that he called mafeisan, with ma referring to cannabis, fei referring to boiling, and san referring to breaking up or scattering . This word is likely where the modern-day term “morphine” originates.

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