Ancient Cannabis Use Uncovered in 2,500-Year-Old Tomb

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We all probably know someone who’s been enjoying cannabis for a long time. You know the person. “Oh, I’ve been smoking since before you were born.” Well, no matter how far back their cannabis use goes, they by no means have anything on the people of ancient western China.

It turns out that the people who inhabited the Pamir region of what is now China were enjoying cannabis 2,500 years ago. At least that’s what a new study has revealed. Scientists analyzed ancient wooden bowls that were found in a 2,500-year-old tomb and found evidence of burning cannabis with a high-THC content. The cannabis was likely used as part of a funeral ceremony.

The tests revealed high levels of a compound called cannabinol (CBN). The primary psychoactive compound in cannabis is THC, however, THC quickly oxidizes into CBN when exposed to air, light or heat. CBD, the other main compound found in cannabis is not psychoactive, and in general if a cannabis plant contains a high level of CBD it will contain a lower level of THC, and vice versa.

So the discovery of primarily CBN in the wooden burners suggests the cannabis used in the prospective ritual was high in THC. Wild cannabis in the region is generally known to not express these high levels of THC so the researchers reasonably hypothesize that either this particular cannabis strain was particularly sourced for its psychoactive qualities or specifically cultivated. […]

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