Early Man Discovered Cannabis Before Alcohol

If the Ice Age (really the last “glacial period”) ended a little over 10,000 years ago, our humanoid ancestors were quick to get to work. They weren’t just on the hunt for wooly mammoths and other terrifying snow beasts. They were on the hunt for weed.

You can imagine the need to relax after an extended period of aggressive glaciation, so the recently posited discovery of cannabis plants going back 10,000 years seems like pretty dope timing. No pun intended. A study just published in Vegetation History and Archaeology just proposed “a multiregional origin of human use of the plant,” meaning two separate groups of early humans—in Europe and East Asia—discovered it around the same time. The study notes the “more or less contemporaneous appearance of cannabis records” in both regions, and we can only imagine what early man had to say about his first buzz.

Cannabis wasn’t just used for intoxication. In fact, quite possibly its primary uses had more to do with hemp fibers and nutritional seeds. Whatever it was used for, there’s evidence that it was popular enough to inspire the earliest known weed dealers to date: “A marked increase in cannabis achene records from East Asia between ca. 5,000 and 4,000 BP might be associated with the establishment of a trans-Eurasian exchange/migration network,” that is, the first major corridor of ganja transportation. (PS, “achenes” is a botanical term referring to a small, “dry, one-seeded fruit.” “Cal BP” is a special archeological way of measuring time using radiocarbon dating, but it’s basically the same as B.C. give or take about 65 years. So basically, weed dealers have been at it for a while.

Most significant about this discovery, beyond maybe some ability to make an archaeological/anthropological argument for legalization: humans were using cannabis at least a couple of thousand years earlier than they were brewing beer, or drinking alcohol of any kind in a regulated way.

Some inevitable speculations: weed quite possibly stunted the cultural evolution of early man, since a bunch of us probably froze to death while thinking about how freak that huge ball of fire in the sky is, or learned the hard way that wooly mammoths don’t want their hair braided.