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Earliest Evidence of People “Getting High” on Marijuana Found in China

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Some important breaking news coming from the AP here: “Archaeologists have unearthed the earliest direct evidence of people smoking marijuana from a 2,500-year-old graveyard in western China.”

The artefacts — which University of Hawaiii botanist Mark Merlin describes as, “the earliest strong evidence of people getting high” — were discovered up in the Pamir Mountains in what is now Xinjiang, close to the border with Tajikistan. A delegation of high-ranking Chinese officials, including the highest, is currently in the region, but we’re sure that’s just a coincidence.

According to the AP report,

“Excavators found 10 wooden bowls and several stones containing burnt residue of the cannabis plant. Scientists believe heated stones were used to burn the marijuana and people then inhaled the smoke as part of a burial ritual. […] 

‘During funeral rites, the smokers may have hoped to communicate with the spirit world — or with the people they were burying,’ said study co-author Yimin Yang of the University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.”

Makes sense. So what will this do for China’s zero tolerance stance on drug-taking? Can we expect a weed-themed extension to the Belt and Road project given this discovery’s location near the old Silk Road route: One Belt, One Road, Two Joints maybe? Or perhaps Higher Brothers can go on tour there?

Unfortunately, as prominent cities in China go through a period of stringent drug-testing (clubs and bars have been regularly raided and customers forced to take pee tests in Shanghai in recent months for example), anyone invoking ancient history in their defense is unlikely to get much of a hearing.

Don’t be surprised however if one of China’s many industrial cannabis companies launches a marketing campaign built around 2,500 years of continuous cannabis history soon.

Related:

Will China’s Dreams of Industrial Cannabis Production Go Up in Smoke?

Cover photo: Roberto Valdivia on Unsplash

RADII China
China from all angles.