Ingested cannabis: The long road from 5000BC to 2022 and beyond

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*Corresponding author
1. Columbia Care, Inc. New York, USA
2. Radicle Science, Encinitas, California USA


For five millennia, cannabis plants have been ingested to provide health and wellness effects. These products contain a host of many classes of chemical constituents, the most bioactive of which is a mix of cannabinoids. The century long prohibition on research of these products (during the emergence of pharmacology as a field) meant that the newly emerged Cannabis industry was generally relegated to using those same uncharacterized plant extracts in products. We are now in an era when standardized methodologies for production and measurement are being adopted, and will open a path for innovations leading to improved manufacturing, product safety, palatability and bioavailability. It is only then that the true potential of these products can be accurately defined.

Cannabis cultivation dates back to the beginnings of recorded history in Ancient China and India, where the plant was used as food for humans and animals. Since that time, cannabis strains have been an important agricultural crop and raw material in the production of fibre, paper, clothing, lighting fuel and medicine. Cannabis sativa plants (both marijuana and hemp strains) have been used to treat many serious conditions throughout recorded history, providing relief for people with pain, insomnia, gastric disorders, and seizure disorders. In the 19th century, plant extracts were made and sold in Europe and the US as tinctures and pills by known pharmaceutical manufacturers and enjoyed a respected place on pharmacy shelves.


Subsequently, concerns about the psychotropic nature of cannabis products resulted in their gradual removal from the global market and prohibition in most countries by the late 1930s. The ban on cannabis cultivation, sale, and use (due to safety concerns) was formalized globally by three separate treaties adopted by the United Nations between 1961-1988, and the World Health Organization in 1970. These ...