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Cannabis: Evolution and Ethnobotany

Copyright Date: 2013
Edition: 1
Pages: 452
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Cannabis: Evolution and Ethnobotany is a comprehensive, interdisciplinary exploration of the natural origins and early evolution of this famous plant, highlighting its historic role in the development of human societies. Cannabis has long been prized for the strong and durable fiber in its stalks, its edible and oil-rich seeds, and the psychoactive and medicinal compounds produced by its female flowers. The culturally valuable and often irreplaceable goods derived from cannabis deeply influenced the commercial, medical, ritual, and religious practices of cultures throughout the ages, and human desire for these commodities directed the evolution of the plant toward its contemporary varieties. As interest in cannabis grows and public debate over its many uses rises, this book will help us understand why humanity continues to rely on this plant and adapts it to suit our needs.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95457-1
    Subjects: Botany & Plant Sciences

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-X)
    (pp. XI-XII)
    (pp. XIII-XIV)
    (pp. XV-XV)
    (pp. xvi-xvi)
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  8. CHAPTER ONE Introduction to the Multipurpose Plant Cannabis
    (pp. 1-12)

    Over the vast time span within which humans have known and used Cannabis for many purposes, it has been heralded as one of humankind’s supreme resources and cursed as one of our utmost burdens. As an introduction to this controversial plant, we have constructed a possible scenario for the origins of Cannabis use by humans, utilizing botanical, ecological, and archeological evidence. Hypothetical early human contact with Cannabis and the subsequent discovery and application of its useful resources took place during the distant past in one of the more temperate and well-watered areas of ancient Central Asia.

    It was springtime many...

  9. CHAPTER TWO Natural Origins and Early Evolution of Cannabis
    (pp. 13-28)

    Where and when did humans first come into contact with Cannabis? And how and why did people begin to employ these extremely useful plants? In order to support our hypothetical scenario of early human interactions with Cannabis presented in Chapter 1, we need to identify when and where the species originated. What were our planet’s environmental and biotic conditions during Cannabis’s early evolution? What are the environmental conditions in which it grows naturally without human help? Can we realistically understand how Cannabis evolved? And if so, where and how did it evolve? To answer these questions we must investigate the...

  10. CHAPTER THREE Ethnobotanical Origins, Early Cultivation, and Evolution through Human Selection
    (pp. 29-58)

    When and where did humans first encounter Cannabis? How and why did people first use the plant? Since our evidence is still indirect, there can be no firm answers to questions about the origins of people’s initial associations with Cannabis. However, we can formulate logical hypotheses with the aid of various sets of information. Speculating about the cultural roots of ancient economic plants like Cannabis can be both interesting and revealing because our associations with the natural world rely so much on our relationships with domesticated plants and animals. Human history has been strongly affected by our relationships with cultivated...

  11. CHAPTER FOUR The Cultural Diffusion of Cannabis
    (pp. 59-134)

    Many Cannabis remains have been recovered from a continuum of historical periods across large parts of Eurasia and into Africa, but the types of paleobotanical, archeological, and written evidence vary markedly between regions. In this chapter we focus our attention primarily on a review and analysis of the historical record of Cannabis use and archeological finds of Cannabis seeds, fiber, pollen, charcoal, and phytoliths (opal silica particles) as well as impressions of fibers and seeds on artifacts. We critically evaluate the value of these various types of data, discuss the factors influencing the natural and human directed spread of Cannabis,...

  12. CHAPTER FIVE History of Cannabis Use for Fiber
    (pp. 135-198)

    Cannabis fibers, commonly called hemp or true hemp, have been used across Eurasia for millennia to make cordage, cloth, and paper. The archeological and historical records are rich in evidence supporting the ancient importance of hemp fiber to humans and its diffusion into various regions of the world. In this chapter, we trace the widespread introduction of hemp fiber use in Central, East, South and Southwest Asia, Egypt, the Mediterranean region, northern Europe, and then eventually to the New World, while emphasizing its continuing strategic role through the nineteenth century. As petrochemical fibers replaced many vegetable fibers, hemp production declined...

  13. CHAPTER SIX Food, Feed, and Oil Uses of Hemp
    (pp. 199-210)

    Humans were gathering a broad diversity of edible plant material much further back in time than has been generally accepted by scholars of prehistory (e.g., see Flannery 1969; Weiss et al. 2004; Dolukhanov 2004). As early humans spread out of Africa and into Eurasia, they must have experimented with a great number of different plants to find new and readily available food sources. It is therefore likely that humans first ingested Cannabis seeds far back in Paleolithic times. For millennia, seeds have been one of Cannabis’s more important products, used for a variety of purposes including food (see Chapter 4...

  14. CHAPTER SEVEN Historical Aspects of Psychoactive Cannabis Use for Ritual and Recreation
    (pp. 211-240)

    A global survey of Cannabis use by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (2007) reported that in 2005 approximately 160 million people world-wide, or 1 in every 43 persons on earth, indulged in Cannabis for psychoactive purposes. The report also claimed that about 10 percent were “first-time users” and 50 percent of “daily users” developed a dependence on Cannabis (also see Hall and Degenhardt 2007; Clapper et al. 2009; Brook et al. 2011). A similar world survey by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (2011) estimated that in 2009, between 125 and 203 million people between...

  15. CHAPTER EIGHT Ethnobotanical History and Contemporary Context of Medicinal Cannabis
    (pp. 241-256)

    Earlier chapters in this book make it quite clear that Cannabis has a very long history as a multipurpose resource with particular uses differing from region to region (see Chapters 4 through 7). How Cannabis was first used remains unresolved, whether it was for fiber to produce cordage, seed for food, psychoactive resin for medicinal, ritual or spiritual applications, or a combination of these. In fact, it is often difficult to separate early medicinal, psychoactive, ritual, and even food uses of Cannabis, especially those involving mind-altering preparations utilized in any or all these contexts. This becomes particularly complex within the...

  16. CHAPTER NINE Nonpsychoactive Ritual Uses of Cannabis
    (pp. 257-294)

    A ritual or rite involves speech, singing, and/or other activities that frequently include a symbolic meaning. These activities are performed in a specific order, often during a religious service or a traditional community occasion. Such a set of actions is usually undertaken because of its supposed influence on behavior and its ability to induce emotions in participants. A large body of knowledge exists concerning relations between Cannabis and its ritual uses. We explored the psychoactive ritual and recreational uses of Cannabis in Chapter 7. Here we will expand upon our theme with supporting evidence for the nonpsychoactive ritual uses of...

  17. CHAPTER TEN Recent History of Cannabis Breeding
    (pp. 295-310)

    Only a very limited number of Cannabis farmers—whether they grow it for fiber, seed, or drugs—consciously improve their crops through selection and breeding. Hemp fiber cultivation and breeding are no longer practiced in the United States, and presently there are only a handful of industrial hemp breeding programs worldwide. Clandestine marijuana breeders secretly work to improve drug types of Cannabis, but the vast majority of marijuana growers practice no selection at all and either buy seeds of named sinsemilla (Spanish for “without seed”) varieties from European or Canadian seed companies or sow accidentally produced seeds from imported or...

  18. CHAPTER ELEVEN Classical and Molecular Taxonomy of Cannabis
    (pp. 311-332)

    In this chapter, we focus on the scientific classification of Cannabis in light of its evolutionary biology. First, we will briefly review our knowledge of Cannabis’s evolution to date, then summarize the various nineteenth- and twentieth- century taxonomic systems for Cannabis, and finally investigate the genetic evidence for Cannabis evolution as illustrated by the disciplines of chemotaxonomy (classification based on variability of secondary metabolites) and molecular taxonomy (classification based on variability of nucleotide sequences). Data provided by several academic disciplines have proven useful in building our case for the evolution of Cannabis under natural and artificial selection. Studies of the...

  19. CHAPTER TWELVE Hypotheses Concerning the Early Evolution of Cannabis
    (pp. 333-364)

    Where did Cannabis originate? Where and how did it survive the great upheavals of the glacial expansions and retreats of the Pleistocene? And where and how did humans significantly affect the evolution of Cannabis?

    During our search for ice age refugia, the determination of prehistoric vegetation ranges and climate zones has helped us present plausible environmental settings in which Cannabis survived ice ages, evolved into multiple species, and expanded to colonize most of Eurasia. Pleistocene ice ages and early Holocene warming greatly affected early human dispersals. Studies of the human genome allow us to establish a time frame for early...

  20. CHAPTER THIRTEEN Cannabis and Homo sapiens Present Position and Future Directions
    (pp. 365-382)

    In this summary chapter, we briefly review the long and complex history of Cannabis and its human use for many purposes, with special focus on the potential recreational, medical, agricultural, and industrial applications of this resource- rich group of plants. We also examine the evidence for coevolution between humans and Cannabis to support our model for Cannabis’s evolution and offer food for thought for future researchers as well as the general public.

    Cannabis, the ancient multiuse genus, is one of Homo sapiens’ most favored yet controversial plant allies. According to the independent Global Commission on Drugs (2011), an estimated 160...

  21. TIMELINE Cannabis in History
    (pp. 383-388)
    (pp. 389-426)
  23. INDEX
    (pp. 427-434)