The Origination Of Cannabis

According to a study published recently, Cannabis Sativa was first found in Northwestern China. According to a study by Science Advances, the "Devil's Lettuce" did not originate in Southern Asia.

The study shows the presence of Cannabis in the regions as early as the Neolithic age. It was one of the earliest species of plants domesticated by humans for multiple purposes.

The research conducted by Swiss and Chinese scientists with the help of 110 whole genomes and archaeological evidence, shows that the plant was initially used for textile and food as hemp in East Asia or modern-day China.

The analysis included four primary groups including the basal Cannabis which is found in the United States and China.

"Our genome-wide analyses corroborate the existing archaeobotanical, archaeological, and historical record, and provide a detailed picture of the domestication of Cannabis and its consequences on the genetic makeup of the species," reported the journal.

While the plants subjected to generations of agriculture have changed in nature, the study believes that the plants of the past have gone extinct in the process.

Archaeological evidence also shows that it was the Bronze age when the use of the plant spread across Europe and the Middle East. It was found in India approximately in 1000 BC.

The spread of the plant in Africa took place in the 13th century and it came to Latin America in the 16th Century. North America was the last importer of the plant, getting it as late as in the 20th century. Luca Fumagalli, a co-author of the research and an evolutionary biologist at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, said, "This was mostly based on the fact that in Central Asia, it's very easy to find lots of feral plants growing on their own, even along roadways. Observational and historical data have suggested this might have been the original domestication site for cannabis."

The study also shows that the primitive plants had lower levels of Tetrahydrocannabinol. Till now, the only existing evidence of the recreational use of the plant by smoking was mentioned in a passage by the ancient historian Herodotus placing the usage in the Central Asian Steppes.

Recent findings shave also revealed that the basal lineage split from the domesticated varieties about 12,000 years ago during the time of agricultural use of crops.

While the two primary lineages, agricultural cannabis, and recreational marijuana, make the most important classification of the plant, the research reveals that there was a third lineage, now extinct, that was turned feral.

Fumagalli also added, "We thought we would find two main lineages, one with plants for fiber use and then plants developed for cannabinoid production. We didn't expect to find this third independent and basal lineage among the samples from East Asia."

While the paper does answer a lot of questions initially unanswered and unknown, it also opens up a new horizon of the study of the plant that is rapidly gaining in acceptance and usage across the globe.

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