from wikipedia – Ganja, also known as marijuana (sometimes spelled “marihuana”) among many other names, refers to any number of preparations of the Ganja plant intended for use as a psychoactive drug. The word marijuana comes from the Mexican Spanish marihuana. According to the United Nations, cannabis “is the most widely used illicit substance in the world.”
The typical herbal form of Ganja consists of the flowers and subtending leaves and stalks of mature pistillate of female plants. The resinous form of the drug is known as hashish (or merely as ‘hash’).
The major psychoactive chemical compound in Ganja is 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (commonly abbreviated as THC). Ganja contains more than 400 different chemical compounds, including at least 66 other cannabinoids (cannabidiol (CBD), cannabinol (CBN) and tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), etc.) which can result in different effects from those of THC alone.
Ganja use has been found to have occurred as long ago as the third millennium B.C. In modern times, the drug has been used for recreational, religious or spiritual, and medicinal purposes. The UN estimated that in 2004 about 4% of the world’s adult population (162 million people) use cannabis annually, and about 0.6% (22.5 million) use it on a daily basis. The possession, use, or sale of cannabis preparations containing psychoactive cannabinoids became illegal in most parts of the world in the early 20th century. Since then, some countries have intensified the enforcement of cannabis prohibition, while others have reduced it.
Ganja is indigenous to Central and South Asia. Evidence of the inhalation of cannabis smoke can be found in the 3rd millennium B.C., as indicated by charred cannabis seeds found in a ritual brazier at an ancient burial site in present day Romania. Ganja is also known to have been used by the ancient Hindus and Nihang Sikhs of India and Nepal thousands of years ago. The herb was called ganjika in Sanskrit. The ancient drug soma, mentioned in the Vedas, was sometimes associated with cannabis.
Ganja was also known to the ancient Assyrians, who discovered its psychoactive properties through the Aryans. Using it in some religious ceremonies, they called it qunubu (meaning “way to produce smoke”), a probable origin of the modern word “cannabis”. Ganja was also introduced by the Aryans to the Scythians and Thracians/Dacians, whose shamans (the kapnobatai—”those who walk on smoke/clouds”) burned cannabis flowers to induce a state of trance. Members of the cult of Dionysus, believed to have originated in Thrace (Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey), are also thought to have inhaled cannabis smoke. In 2003, a leather basket filled with cannabis leaf fragments and seeds was found next to a 2,500- to 2,800-year-old mummified shaman in the northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China.
Ganja has an ancient history of ritual use and is found in pharmacological cults around the world. Hemp seeds discovered by archaeologists at Pazyryk suggest early ceremonial practices like eating by the Scythians occurred during the 5th to 2nd century B.C., confirming previous historical reports by Herodotus. One writer has claimed that cannabis was used as a religious sacrament by ancient Jews and early Christians due to the similarity between the Hebrew word “qannabbos” (“cannabis”) and the Hebrew phrase “qené bósem” (“aromatic cane”). It was used by Muslims in various Sufi orders as early as the Mamluk period, for example by the Qalandars.
A study published in the South African Journal of Science showed that “pipes dug up from the garden of Shakespeare’s home in Stratford upon Avon contain traces of cannabis.” The chemical analysis was carried out after researchers hypothesized that the “noted weed” mentioned in Sonnet 76 and the “journey in my head” from Sonnet 27 could be references to cannabis and the use thereof.
In the United States the first restrictions for sale of cannabis came in 1906 (in District of Columbia). In 1937, the Marijuana Transfer Tax Act was passed, and prohibited the production of hemp in addition to marijuana. The reasons that hemp was also included in this law are disputed. The Federal Bureau of Narcotics agents reported that fields with hemp were also used as a source for marijuana dealers. Other authors have claimed that it was passed in order to destroy the hemp industry, largely as an effort of businessmen Andrew Mellon, Randolph Hearst, and the Du Pont family. With the invention of the decorticator, hemp became a very cheap substitute for the paper pulp that was used in the newspaper industry. Hearst felt that this was a threat to his extensive timber holdings. Mellon, Secretary of the Treasury and the wealthiest man in America, had invested heavily in the Du Pont families new synthetic fiber, nylon, which was also being outcompeted by hemp.
Ganja was criminalized in various countries beginning in the early 20th century. It was outlawed in South Africa in 1911, in Jamaica (then a British colony) in 1913, and in the United Kingdom and New Zealand in the 1920s. Canada criminalized marijuana in the Opium and Drug Act of 1923, before any reports of use of the drug in Canada. In 1925 a compromise was made at an international conference in Haag about the International Opium Convention that banned exportation of “Indian hemp” to countries that had prohibited its use, and requiring importing countries to issue certificates approving the importation and stating that the shipment was required “exclusively for medical or scientific purposes”. It also required parties to “exercise an effective control of such a nature as to prevent the illicit international traffic in Indian hemp and especially in the resin”.