Indigenous to Asia, the hemp plant, source of marijuana, has been a multi-purpose herb for centuries. Its narcotic use is generally believed to have originated in the Far Eastern portion of the world, with its earliest recorded use in China, more than 5000 years ago. It never really attained widespread use however, probably because the Chinese had more powerful psychoactive substances at their disposal. Marijuana’s first use as a drug is generally attributed to Shen Nung, a Chinese emperor and pharmacist. He advocated the use of the plant as a sedative and an all-purpose medication. 1] 
Documentation of its first use by large numbers of people, for its mind-altering effects rather than for medicinal purposes, is in the historical records of the Indian subcontinent. Cannabis was considered a holy plant in about 2000 B. C. , and was cultivated by the priests in temple gardens. They harvested the leaves, stems and flowering tops, and brewed them into a highly potent liquid called “bhang. ” Recreational use soon began, among the general population, despite the strict guarding of the secretive bhang formula by the priests.
It then spread to the Middle East, with religion playing a prominent role in its introduction.  From the ninth through the twelfth centuries, cannabis was introduced into North Africa during the Arab invasions of those lands. It went from Egypt, in the east, to Tunisia, then Algeria, then Morocco. Being extolled by the poets of the time, its use caught on quickly there as well. Marijuana’s reaching England has been attributed to a physician serving in the Bengal Medical Service of Britain’s East India Company, Sir William O’Shaughnessy Brooke.
Again, its use was predominantly medicinal, and once other, more specific medications such as barbiturates, aspirin and anesthetic agents came along, its popularity soon waned.  In America, hemp was grown as a major cash crop as early as 1720. Oil from the seeds was used in the manufacture of soap, paints, and similar products. The stem fibers were used for multiple manufacturing purposes, including the production of cloth and ropes.
George Washington was among the earliest colonial planters who grew a major hemp crop, however there is documentation hat hemp was cultivated for fiber in 1611, in Jamestown, Virginia, and 1632 in Massachusetts. By the mid-1800’s, the hemp industry had reached its apex in America. By 1890, hemp grew wild everywhere in the United States: along roadsides and in meadows and abandoned fields. For the most part, it was ignored.     Keep Off The Grass  Focus on Marijuana  The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Drugs  The Marijuana Conviction Medicinally, cannabis was used much as it had been in England. Usually, an imported olive-brown paste called Tilden’s Extract of Cannabis Sativa Indica, was prescribed.
Otherwise, records of early cannabis use indicate its limitation to Fitz Hugh Ludlow, a bright, young scholar and writer. Many times, he took ten times the usual dose of one to six grams, and went into hallucinatory daydreams. Afterward, he would write of his experiences: “Ha! what means this sudden thrill? A shock, as of some unimagined vital force, shoots without warning throughout my entire frame, leaping to my fingers’ ends, piercing my brain, startling me till I almost spring from my chair. I could not doubt it. I was in the power of the hasheesh influence.
My first emotion was one of uncontrollable terror – a sense of getting something which I had not bargained for. That moment I would have given all I had or hoped to have to be as I was three hours before. No pain anywhere not a twinge in any fibre – yet a cloud of unmutterable strangeness was settling upon me, and wrapping me impenetrably in from all that was natural or familiar. Endeared faces, well known to me of old, surrounded me, yet they were not with me in my loneliness. I had entered upon a tremendous life which they could not share. ”   
Then, in about 1910, marijuana began to be imported into the United States from Mexico and the Caribbean. It was widely used, in cigarette form, among poor black and Mexican workers and Latin stevedores, predominately in Texas, New Mexico and Louisiana. Next, it found its way into the world of the New Orleans jazz musicians, and became associated with the mystique of the rhythms of this newly-emerging music form. Before long, it’s use spread up the Mississippi River and into the large northern cities, into a larger segment of the population. 1]   Hemp is a moraceous plant; that is belonging to the Moraceae family of plants, which also includes the mulberry, breadfruit, fig, hop, Osage orange and others. The usual lay-terminology for the plant used to obtain marijuana and hashish and other drug products is “Indian hemp. ” This is not to be confused with the Indian hemp originating in North America, which is a dogbane, Apocynum cannabinum.
The later however, is a distant relative of the first, evidenced by its Latin name.  Marijuana’s scientific name is L. annabis sativa, with the initial psychotropic strain having originated in India, thus its being referred to as cannabis indica. Cannabis means “hemp,” in Latin, and denotes the hemp family of plants’ genus. Sativa denotes the species and the nature of the plant’s growth. It means “planted,” or “sown. ” The other adjectives which are added into the Latin name(s) denote the variety according to geographic location; thus, cannabis sativa indica is the specific strain which grows in, or originated in India.
The origination of the label cannabis sativa is attributed to Linneaus, in 1753, and the English word canvas comes directly from the Latin, cannabis.   Cannabis plants grow wild in one form or another, in most countries of the world, including the United States. Today, the most significant producers of marijuana crops are Mexico, Egypt, Columbia, Bolivia, Peru and Morocco, but production in the United States has been escalating in recent years. There is also a high-grade variety called “Thai stick,” which is grown in Thailand.
Mountainous regions within dry, equatorial climates are the prime locals for the growth of cannabis for marijuana purposes.  Keep Off The Grass  The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Drugs; Marijuana: Its Effects On Mind And Body  Reefer Madness  The Marijuana Conviction  Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language Various forms of the drug are known by many different names throughout the world, such as “kif” in Morocco, “dagga” in South Africa, and “ganja” in India.
Hashish, or “hash,” refers to the dried, resinous substance which exudes from the flowering tops of the plant and is much higher in THC ontent* than ordinary marijuana, which is taken from the lower, less potent leaves of the plant. In our Western culture, the various cannabis preparations have acquired many different nicknames, including “grass, pot, tea, reefer, weed, bush, smoke” and “Mary Jane” or “Mary Warner. ” Over the centuries, marijuana has been smoked, eaten in cakes and drunk in beverages, but in Western culture, it is most often a tobacco-like mixture which is either smoked in a pipe or rolled into cigarettes: “joints, bones,” and in earlier times, “reefers”.
Marijuana is grouped in with the government legislation-controlled drugs known as narcotics. Generally, these drugs dull the mind’s perception of pain, and in medicine, the authorized ones are used as painkillers, or analgesics. Being such greatly explains their potential for abuse, especially among the disenfranchised and those with deep-seated emotional pain, or even those with psychosomatic ills stemming from emotional problems. The more dangerous ones produce a strong high and are intensely dependency-producing. 
Today, the sale of marijuana in the United States is an $8. billion per year industry. The cultivation, distribution and sale totals about $6. 3 billion yearly.  The chief psychoactive ingredient in marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Psychoactive drugs are those which influence or alter the workings of the mind. They affect moods, emotions, feelings and thinking processes. This major psychoactive component was not identified until the mid-1960s. Other cannabinoids have also been isolated, and at present their biochemical possibilities are being carefully studied. 
As of 1985, over 400 different chemicals in 18 different classes have been identified in the marijuana plant. When it is smoked, some of its chemicals are further changed into different compounds. One hundred and fifty compounds have been identified in marijuana smoke, including benzopyrene. Benzopyrene is 70% more abundant in marijuana smoke than in tobacco smoke. It is known to cause cancer. Marijuana also contains 50% more tar than tobacco. User critics point out that most of the tar and impurities are removed when it is smoked through a water pipe.
This is a device which filters the smoke through a volume of water, enabling the user to take larger amounts into the lungs, due to the cooling effect of the water on the smoke.  The use of marijuana and other sedatives or hypnotic drugs may result in a state of physiological and psychological craving. Discontinuance creates withdrawal states of varying degrees within some users. In all fairness, it should be noted that the figures for dependence and withdrawal symptoms ameliorate when comparing marijuana use against the withdrawal and dependence statistics on any of the much more dangerous drugs with which it is legally grouped; i. . heroin and LSD.
It should also be noted that alcohol is at least as habit forming as marijuana, and is legal; and that the Surgeon General of the United States in recent years stated that nicotine, also legal in the United States within age restrictions, was akin in habit-forming potential to heroin. * The THC content in a given amount of marijuana directly determines its drug potency.  The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Drugs; Marijuana: Its Effects On Mind And Body Some of the physical signs and symptoms of marijuana use are: increased heart rate, reddening of the eyes, and mouth and throat dryness.
It temporarily impairs short-term memory, alters sense of time, and therefore reduces the ability of its user to perform tasks requiring concentration, swift reactions, How users think it makes them feel is an entirely different story. Many feel that their hearing, vision and skin sensitivity are enhanced by marijuana, but to date there have been no conclusive studies to ascertain, nor negate these claims. In addition, euphoria, relaxation, altered sense of body image, and bouts of exaggerated laughter are common.
A loss of balance can accompany the marijuana “high. Difficulty in completing thought processes is common – particularly with larger doses of the drug.  Of course, the larger the dose, the greater the chance of more adverse symptoms. Because marijuana causes both a sedative and a hallucinogenic effect, loss of insight, delusions and paranoia can result from its use. Marijuana and THC are sometimes used, medicinally, to treat glaucoma. They help to reduce pressure within the eye. Synthetic THC, dronabinol, was also approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1985 for treating nausea and vomiting – a problem side-effect which accompanies cancer chemotherapy.
It is believed that the dronabinol binds with opium receptors within the medulla of the brain. Cannabis was listed in the United States Pharmacopoeia from 1870 through 1941, as a medication. Over one hundred articles were published in medical journals between 1840 and 1900, recommending cannabis use.    Hemp (cannabis sativa) fibers were once used extensively for ropes, hammocks, and cables. They resist water better than any other natural vegetable fiber. Today, hemp fiber has been largely replaced by synthetic fibers (still another way for the petrochemical industries to profit).
As a control measure within the US, legislation prohibits the possession of the hemp plant or any of its products, except for hemp seed and hemp oil. Close relatives of the cannabis sativa or Indian hemp (marijuana) strain are abaca, or Manila hemp, which is used for making cordage, hats, hammocks, and curtain fabrics. Other relatives, Sisal, used in the manufacture of cordage, summer rugs and brushes, and Sunn, which is made into stout twine, rope, rug yarns, coarse cloth, and paper are beneficial to mankind.