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Cannabis facts for kids

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Scientific classification


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.

Ancient history

Scientists believe that cannabis first grew somewhere in the Himalayas. Evidence of people smoking marijuana goes as far back as prehistory: archaeologists have found burnt hemp seeds at a burial site in what is now Romania. The most famous users of cannabis were the ancient Hindus, who called it ganjika in Sanskrit (ganja in modern Indian languages). According to legend, the Indian god Shiva told his followers to worship the plant. The ancient drug soma was sometimes associated with cannabis.

People in the Persian Empire (what is now Iran) would light giant campfires made of marijuana, exposing themselves and other neighbors to the smoke. The ceremony was known as "the booz-rooz."

Marijuana was also known in ancient Greece, where magicians would burn its flowers in order to cause strange thoughts in the audience members' minds. Historians think that the cult of Dionysus also began in ancient Greece and involved inhaling marijuana smoke.

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