Indian People Brought Marijuana to Jamaica And Named It Ganja

By Jacob Shelton


Bhang eaters before two huts, c. 1790. (San Diego Museum of Art/Wikimedia Commons)

"Where does marijuana come from?" sounds like the kind of question one would only ask under the influence of its subject, but do you know the answer? Didn't think so. The name, of course, originates from Mexican Spanish, but the plant is thought to have come from Central Asia before it went on a magical mystery tour to your local dispensary.

Where Does Marijuana Come From?

It's believed that travelers migrating from or through Central Asia brought cannabis along with them on their travels through the Himalayas and into India between 2000 and 1000 B.C.EReferred to as ganja, which is believed to come from the Old Persian or Old Iranian term for "treasure," it didn't take long for marijuana to become an important part of Indian culture. Between the third and eighth centuries, it was used to treat phlegm, catarrh, and diarrhea, and it was even incorporated into a popular myth about the goddess Shiva, who was believed to have "brought the plant down from Mount Mandara," where the first cannabis plant was said to sprout from a drop of sacred nectar that fell from the sky. During the festivals of Shivrati and Kumbha Mela, marijuana was burned as an offering to Shiva and smoked to facilitate a dialog with beings on another plane of existence. It's unclear if it worked.

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