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Cannabis facts for kids

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Cannabis
Marijuana.jpg
Scientific classification
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Cannabis

Species

Cannabis sativa L.
Cannabis indica Lam.
Cannabis ruderalis Janisch.

Cannabis is a genus of flowering plants which produces marijuana. There are three species: Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis.

The cannabis plant's flowers contain a chemical or drug known as THC (short for tetra-hydro-cannabinol). Smoking or eating the flower can make a person feel euphoric (very good) or sleepy. The plant is also used to make hemp fibre, and for its seeds and seed oil.

In its natural environment, THC's purpose was to protect itself against being eaten. There are many varieties of marijuana, and those low on THC production are selected for producing hemp and seeds.

Marijuana is an illegal drug in many countries. However, some countries have made marijuana legal. Other countries allow cannabis to be used as medicine when people have certain medical conditions.

History

According to genetic and archaeological evidence, cannabis was first domesticated about 12,000 years ago in East Asia during the early Neolithic period. The oldest written record of cannabis usage is the Greek historian Herodotus's reference to the central Eurasian Scythians taking cannabis steam baths.

The most famous users of cannabis were the ancient Hindus, who called it ganjika in Sanskrit. According to legend, the Indian god Shiva told his followers to worship the plant. The ancient drug soma was sometimes associated with cannabis.

In the Middle East, use spread throughout the Islamic empire to North Africa. In 1545, cannabis spread to the western hemisphere where Spaniards imported it to Chile for its use as fiber. In North America, cannabis, in the form of hemp, was grown for use in rope, cloth and paper.

Religious use

The Cannabis plant has a history of medicinal use dating back thousands of years across many cultures. The Yanghai Tombs, a vast ancient cemetery (54 000 m2) situated in the Turfan district of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in northwest China, have revealed the 2700-year-old grave of a shaman. He is thought to have belonged to the Jushi culture recorded in the area centuries later in the Hanshu, Chap 96B. Near the head and foot of the shaman was a large leather basket and wooden bowl filled with cannabis, superbly preserved by climatic and burial conditions. The cannabis was presumably employed by this culture as a medicinal agent, or an aid to divination.

Cannabis is first referred to in Hindu Vedas between 2000 and 1400 BCE, in the Atharvaveda. By the 10th century CE, it has been suggested that it was referred to by some in India as "food of the gods".

In Buddhism, cannabis is generally regarded as an intoxicant and may be a hindrance to development of meditation and clear awareness. Cannabis is frequently used among Sufis – the mystical interpretation of Islam that exerts strong influence over local Muslim practices in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Turkey, and Pakistan.

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See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Cannabis (género) para niños

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