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Trivia Time: 7 Cannabis Facts That You Haven't Heard Yet

by Amna Shamim

Everyone nowadays is talking about terpenes and the endocannabinoid system and that’s great. But that’s not really the sort of trivia you can pull out to impress your friends on your zoom happy hour or over dinner (when you’re having dinner in person again with a big group of friends. What you need is the fun facts below, some of which even cannabis experts don’t know.

Why cannabis is colloquially called 420

People have all sorts of theories about why cannabis is called 420 but the real story is better than most of those theories.

In the 1970s when cannabis was still illegal in California, a group of high school students in San Rafael got a hold of a treasure map to a wild plot of weed growing nearby. They would meet after school at 4:20 pm to go search for this treasure trove. They never found it but they did refer to the object of their quest as 420 and so did their friends and acquaintances, which included members of the Grateful Dead.

In 1990, the editor of High Times Magazine, Steve Bloom, saw the 420 shorthand explained on a concert flyer for the Grateful Dead. The High Times Magazine staff started using it and the rest is history.

Cannabis is legal in North Korea….and has been for hundreds of years

While North Korea is a notably sealed-off country, there are several reports from journalists and defectors that cannabis is legal, cheap, and widely used in North Korea. Hemp grows wild in the country and cannabis is not considered an illegal drug. 

Cannabis use has been common throughout the centuries with a North Korean goddess named Mago/Magu associated with the hemp plant. She takes her name from the Chinese character for cannabis “Ma.” 

Even if doomsday comes, you’ll still have cannabis plants

In anticipation of the world ending one day, 17 countries (including North Korea) have sent 21,500 seeds to a doomsday seed vault in Norway. These seeds include 31 strains of cannabis and eight strains of hemp. They are being kept safe and will be used to replant the earth’s fauna once we humans destroy it all.

The USA hasn’t contributed any cannabis or hemp seeds to the doomsday vault so you may not be able to enjoy Jack Herer or OG Kush after the apocalypse. 

George Washington grew cannabis (ok fine, hemp) plants at Mount Vernon. Thomas Jefferson did too at Monticello.

Hemp was very popular in colonial times and was widely used for products such as sails, clothing, maps, books, tents, and more. Several colonies mandated the growth of hemp and at one point, it was so valuable, it could even be used as currency!

Both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson knew a cash crop when they saw it and made a point of growing acres of hemp on their plantations. There are rumors that Thomas Jefferson also liked to smoke some of his hemp crops but sadly, there is no proof that was the case.

The word marijuana comes from the Mexican Revolution

After the Mexican Revolution, some of the former soldiers emigrated to the United States and continued to partake of their favorite form of intoxication, which they called “mariguana.” Some of these emigres did not stay put along the Mexican border but moved all across the United States. 

They ended up in port cities like New Orleans and mingled with jazz musicians. This is how Harry Anslinger was able to create the association of marijuana and the jazz scene and was able to demonize the foreign word “Marijuana” in a way he couldn’t do with the medicine “Cannabis.” 

The first thing ever sold on the internet was marijuana

In the very early days of the internet (1971 or 1972) a group of students from Stanford University’s Artificial Intelligence Laboratory used an Arpanet account to purchase an unspecified amount of marijuana from their counterparts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

While the money part of the deal was handled offline, the purchase order was placed online, making it the very first online drug deal. And the federal government is worried about cannabis ecommerce now...

We’ve been getting stoned for at least 2500 years

We have abundant evidence of cannabis use from all over the world for hundreds of years. We know hashish has been smoked in the Middle East and Asia since about 800 AD. We also know that in the 1800s, cannabis extracts were a popular treatment in England for the stomach pains and vomiting that cholera patients suffered.

But that’s all relatively recent history. The excavation of a 2500-year-old tomb in China revealed that people back then were burning high-THC content cannabis as part of the burial process. They weren’t smoking cannabis the way we do now but they were definitely getting contact highs from the smoke and enclosed space. 

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