May 19, 2024

The History of Hemp and Cannabis in the UK & Canada

Read Time:2 Minute, 41 Second

In the United Kingdom and Canada, cannabis is illegal—but there is a fascinating history behind cannabis in each of the countries.

Cannabis has been used for thousands of years. It is grown in many parts of the world, including Europe and North America.
Marijuana is a psychoactive drug, meaning it acts on the brain. The word “marijuana” itself means “sleepy.” It comes from the cannabis plant and can be smoked, eaten, or absorbed through the skin by way of topical lotions and balms. Cannabis has been grown in various parts of the world including North and South America, as well as Asia, with cultures cultivating it as alternative medicine.
Cannabis is illegal in the United Kingdom, Canada, and some U.S. states. Nevertheless, there is still an interesting history of Cannabis in the UK and Canada.

History of Hemp in Canada

Hemp, a class of cannabis sativa, was a major crop in Canada for many years. Hemp was used for many things, including food and clothing. It was also used to make rope, paper, and even medicines like cannabis oil.

The first people to come over from Europe were the Vikings who settled along the coast of what is now modern-day eastern Canada. They brought with them their skills as farmers and seamen who helped establish hemp farming in this area by 1000 AD (about 300 years before Columbus found the Bahamas). 

Hemp can be used to make a wide variety of products, including rope and sails. Hemp has been used for centuries as an industrial crop. Hemp was first grown in England as early as 1066, but it was not until the 17th century that hemp became an essential part of British agriculture. During this time, again, hemp was used to make rope for boats, and clothing items like gloves, plus paper.

The plant has been found in ancient Egyptian tomb paintings, and written accounts from 800 BC describe its use as an “elixir” that would heal wounds, ease pain, and even cure insanity. The first recorded use of marijuana is thought to date back 5,000 years ago when it was used as a treatment for malaria-like symptoms by Native Americans living along the Mississippi River basin near what is now northern Illinois.

Cannabis History in the UK

Cannabis has been used in the UK since the Bronze Age. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans used it for its psychoactive properties, while the Vikings, Saxons, and Normans also took to smoking cannabis.

The British during World War I were particularly fond of smoking cannabis – so much so that they called it “billy” because it made them feel “high” or euphoric.

The UK & Canada’s cannabis history

In the UK, cannabis has been used for medical purposes since the 16th century. It was also used in Canada until recently. In both countries, people of all ages have used cannabis to treat pain and other ailments. Recreational use has also been reported in both countries, though it is more common in the UK than it is in Canada.

We hope you enjoyed learning about the history of marijuana and hemp in Canada, the UK, and other places.

Images: Alesia Kozik, Alesia Kozik

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