Cannabis sativa L.
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.
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.
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.
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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Cannabis Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.