If I could Live in the Pleistocene (Part V)–Bringing back Marijuana (Cannabis sativa)

Photo from google images of a wild marijuana patch.  I had a friend from Iowa who told me that marijuana was a common weed in roadside ditches there.

For those unfamiliar with this blog I write an irregular series fantasizing about going back in time to live during the Pleistocene.  I would bring along some modern conveniences that I don’t want to live without.  I choose 36,000 BP, an interstadial, because I love virgin oak forests which prevailed then.  The climate was just perfect during the time period–much cooler summers but only slightly cooler winters with more snowfall than present day Georgia usually gets.  I’d live in a stone fortress to keep me safe from the beasts.  My little castle is located near the confluence of what today is the Broad and Savannah Rivers for easy access to such potential food as fish, waterfowl, turtles, and shellfish.  Stonewalls around my castle protect a garden and fruit orchard, and I’d also raise geese, chickens, milk cows, and honeybees, so my Pleistocene life is self-sufficient, though for emergencies there’s a time tunnel connecting me to 2011.  One of the plants I would bring back in time to grow in my garden would be marijuana (Cannabis sativa).

The modern world is full of outrageous absurdity.  Our so-called civilization allows coal companies to destroy beautiful mountains, transmogrifying them into permanent craters as barren as the moon.  This short-sighted destruction creates wealth for a few but leaves nothing behind for our descendents but useless wasteland.  Big slurries of black sludge, a biproduct of this kind of mining, buries once pristine freshwater creeks.   The smog from burning coal poisons those living near power plants, and the mercury deposits turn fish into toxic food, potentially causing brain damage to people consuming what would otherwise be a healthy dietary choice.  Although the majority of society opposes mountain top removal mining, it is legal because paper money changes hands between coal company criminals and crooked politicians.   Even in West Virginia, a solid majority of people oppose this kind of mining, but not a single state legislator does.  Our so-called civilized society accepts the legality of this barbaric devastation of the land, yet people growing a plant that makes users feel pleasant are sentenced to long prison terms.  Marijuana became illegal the same year prohibition ended.  I believe the real reason it became illegal was so the government could save the jobs of federal law enforcement agents with nothing to do when beer was allowed to flow legally again. 

Before and after picture of mountain top removal mining.  This travesty is legal but growing and smoking marijuana is illegal, proving there is no logic in law whatsoever.  A law is simply an excuse for people in power to subjugate people who are not in power.  Judges rule based on precedent.  Of course, if a judge disagrees with precedent, they rule differently based on their own reasoning.  In other words judges fabricate bullshit.  I wish I didn’t have to live in a world where mountain top removal mining is legal and marijuana is illegal.

In my Pleistocene world 36,000 years BP there are no illogical laws.  There’s no mountain top removal mining, and I can grow and smoke marijuana, if I want.  And I want.  I would have to bring marijuana seeds back in time with me.  It’s unlikely any kind of cannabis ever grew wild in Pleistocene North America because it’s not native to the continent.  Wild marijuana originally grew in central Asia and China, thriving in low moist but well drained areas, perhaps fertilized by elephant or water buffalo dung.  The oldest fossil remains of cannabis fiber comes from a 12,000 year old fishing site near the south China coast.  It belonged to either Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica, the psychoactive kinds, or Cannabis ruderalis–industrial hemp.  Humans used the fiber to construct nets and fishing lines.  The 3 species of cannabis were among the first of cultivated plants.  6,000 years ago Chinese farmers grew marijuana with millet, wheat, rice, and beans.  Marijuana seeds are nutritious but bland.  It was primarily grown for the fiber.

Humans probably first found marijuana plants growing in their trash middens where the soil was fertile from accidental composting.  Cannabis is an annual weed that could easily colonize such habitat.  People looking for fibrous plants to weave clothes or nets to catch fish or birds utilized marijuana as a useful plant for such purposes.  The discovery that marijuana causes a pleasant high was a happy accident.  Thousands of years ago, there was no paper to start fires with.  Instead of paper, dried weeds were used.  On a cold windy day a family group huddled around a fire in a cramped tent or hut.  The smoke from burning the dried cannabis weed gave this ancient family a euphoric feeling.  Someone recognized the source of the euphoric feeling and spread the word.  One primitive genius decided more would be better and invented a pipe so he could inhale the smoke directly.  This forgotten individual ranks on par with Thomas Edison and the Wright brothers.

Later in human history, pot smokers learned how to cultivate marijuana to increase the tetrahydracannabinol (the active ingredient) content.  Pot farmers remove all the male plants which forces the females to grow bigger buds in a desperate attempt to capture scarce pollen.  The buds are where THC concentrates.  Cultivating seedless buds creates a higher quality marijuana known as sensimilla.

 

Photo of semsimilla bud from google images. If I could live during the Pleistocene, I’d be smoking this in my little castle while looking out the window for long-horned bison, giant ground sloths, and mammoths.

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8 Responses to “If I could Live in the Pleistocene (Part V)–Bringing back Marijuana (Cannabis sativa)”

  1. Mark L Says:

    Nah Mark, you’d be -drawing pictures- of bison, sloths, and mastadons on the castle walls while your wife cleans and your kids hunt them. j/k…Tell the truth, man. If you look at the history of natives of the southeast, and beyond, there was certainly no shortage of recreational drugs at their disposal (might be a good topic for next time?). Ever tried black drink?

  2. James Robert Smith Says:

    Your reefer would be much weaker than the modern man-strengthened strains. You’d have to smoke a pile of it to get high.

    When I was in high school I recall the push to deregulate coal mining. All of the network news stations were in on the propaganda push to change the rules that resulted in the ecological rape we know as mountaintop removal. One particular slant they’d take is to show poor little wildcat coal miners. These were small operators–sometimes one guy–who owned maybe a front end loader, a bulldozer, and a pair of overalls. They’d trot one of these pathetic bastards out and he’d say:

    “If’n I could grade away a few feet o’ that thar hill I could git at that dab o’ coal in thar and feed mah fambly.”

    Then everyone watching would feel really sorry for the hayseed workin’ hard to feed his chil’ren.

    Occasionally they’d have maybe a five-second sound bit of an ecologist warning that big operators would take those changes and tear down entire mountain ranges to get at the coal. After which the reporter would roll his eyes, or they’d have a coal company mouthpiece exclaiming how that would NEVER happen.

    Well, it did happen.

    People should be shot.

  3. Mike Says:

    You da man Mark. Trippin’ around high in Pleistocene North America? Yeah, that’d be wild. Great post. Been reading awhile now, this is maybe your best yet.

  4. markgelbart Says:

    I wouldn’t say it’s my best. Popular among potheads maybe…

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