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      The origins of cannabis smoking: Chemical residue evidence from the first millennium BCE in the Pamirs

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          Chemical analysis reveals early ritual cannabis smoking in the eastern Pamirs by 2500 years ago.


          Cannabis is one of the oldest cultivated plants in East Asia, grown for grain and fiber as well as for recreational, medical, and ritual purposes. It is one of the most widely used psychoactive drugs in the world today, but little is known about its early psychoactive use or when plants under cultivation evolved the phenotypical trait of increased specialized compound production. The archaeological evidence for ritualized consumption of cannabis is limited and contentious. Here, we present some of the earliest directly dated and scientifically verified evidence for ritual cannabis smoking. This phytochemical analysis indicates that cannabis plants were burned in wooden braziers during mortuary ceremonies at the Jirzankal Cemetery (ca. 500 BCE) in the eastern Pamirs region. This suggests cannabis was smoked as part of ritual and/or religious activities in western China by at least 2500 years ago and that the cannabis plants produced high levels of psychoactive compounds.

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          Most cited references 33

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          Chemical constituents of marijuana: the complex mixture of natural cannabinoids.

          The cannabis plant (Cannabis sativa L.) and products thereof (such as marijuana, hashish and hash oil) have a long history of use both as a medicinal agent and intoxicant. Over the last few years there have been an active debate regarding the medicinal aspects of cannabis. Currently cannabis products are classified as Schedule I drugs under the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Controlled Substances act, which means that the drug is only available for human use as an investigational drug. In addition to the social aspects of the use of the drug and its abuse potential, the issue of approving it as a medicine is further complicated by the complexity of the chemical make up of the plant. This manuscript discusses the chemical constituents of the plant with particular emphasis on the cannabinoids as the class of compounds responsible for the drug's psychological properties.
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            Evolution of the Cannabinoid and Terpene Content during the Growth of Cannabis sativa Plants from Different Chemotypes.

            The evolution of major cannabinoids and terpenes during the growth of Cannabis sativa plants was studied. In this work, seven different plants were selected: three each from chemotypes I and III and one from chemotype II. Fifty clones of each mother plant were grown indoors under controlled conditions. Every week, three plants from each variety were cut and dried, and the leaves and flowers were analyzed separately. Eight major cannabinoids were analyzed via HPLC-DAD, and 28 terpenes were quantified using GC-FID and verified via GC-MS. The chemotypes of the plants, as defined by the tetrahydrocannabinolic acid/cannabidiolic acid (THCA/CBDA) ratio, were clear from the beginning and stable during growth. The concentrations of the major cannabinoids and terpenes were determined, and different patterns were found among the chemotypes. In particular, the plants from chemotypes II and III needed more time to reach peak production of THCA, CBDA, and monoterpenes. Differences in the cannabigerolic acid development among the different chemotypes and between monoterpene and sesquiterpene evolution patterns were also observed. Plants of different chemotypes were clearly differentiated by their terpene content, and characteristic terpenes of each chemotype were identified.
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              Evolution and Classification of Cannabis sativa (Marijuana, Hemp) in Relation to Human Utilization

               Ernest Small (2015)

                Author and article information

                Sci Adv
                Sci Adv
                Science Advances
                American Association for the Advancement of Science
                June 2019
                12 June 2019
                : 5
                : 6
                [1 ]Key Laboratory of Vertebrate Evolution and Human Origins of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100044, P. R. China.
                [2 ]Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, P. R. China.
                [3 ]Key Laboratory of Cenozoic Geology and Environment, Institute of Geology and Geophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100029, P. R. China.
                [4 ]Institute of Archaeology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing 100710, P. R. China.
                [5 ]Department of Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena 07745, Germany.
                [6 ]School of Social Science, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland 4072, Australia.
                Author notes
                [* ]Corresponding author. Email: yiminyang@ 123456ucas.ac.cn
                Copyright © 2019 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works. Distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial License 4.0 (CC BY-NC).

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

                Funded by: doi http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100004189, Max-Planck-Gesellschaft;
                Funded by: doi http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100004189, Max-Planck-Gesellschaft;
                Funded by: doi http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100004189, Max-Planck-Gesellschaft;
                Funded by: doi http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100004739, Youth Innovation Promotion Association of the Chinese Academy of Sciences;
                Funded by: doi http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100011332, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences;
                Funded by: National Young Top-notch Talent Support Program;
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