China, the Birthplace of Marijuana!

The most recent issue of the esteemed academic journal, the Journal of Experimental Botany,  has a very interesting article with the rather dry title: Phytochemical and genetic analysis of ancient cannabis from Central Asia. That’s marijuana or pot, for you non-academic peeps.

A researcher from the University of Montana at Missoula sampled (heh heh) marijuana from a carbon dated 2700 year-old tomb which was apparently found to have high levels of THC, which is the chemical responsible for getting people high.  According to the abstract, the article states:

To our knowledge, these investigations provide the oldest documentation of cannabis as a pharmacologically active agent, and contribute to the medical and archaeological record of this pre-Silk Road culture.

Meaning, this was the oldest known instance of someone using pot to get high.

What makes this even weirder is that the tomb is from an ancient tribe in China known as the Gushi, where all the members had blond hair and blue eyes. Given all the trade that was happening with Europe and Russia in those days, it’s not a surprise that more European looking folks made it to westernmost China, but it’s still a trip to see such intercultural mixing.

And, as the Toronto Star reports, the area where the tomb was found, Xinjiang, is where most forms of marijuana originate genetically.

So why don’t I see more Chinese people toking up?

(Mildly inaccurate but hilarious photo source: Wikipedia)

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About Efren

Efren is a 30-something queer Filipino American guy living in San Francisco. In the past, he was a wanna-be academic even teaching in Asian American studies at San Francisco State, a wanna-be queer rights and HIV activist, and he used to "blog" when that meant spewing one's college student angst using a text editor on a terminal screen to write in a BBS or usenet back in the early 90s. For all his railing against the model minority myth, he's realized he's done something only a few people can claim--getting into UCSF twice, once for a PhD program in medical sociology which he left; and then for pharmacy school, where he'll be a member of the class of '13. He apologizes profusely for setting the bar unintentionally high for his cousins. blog twitter
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