Stoned Age: The world’s oldest smoke spot

Published on June 14, 2019 by David Wylie

Archeologists have unearthed the earliest known evidence of using cannabis to get high.

Chemical residue dating back to 500 BCE found in western China reveals cannabis was burned on rocks in small ovens during psychoactive funeral ceremonies.

The origins of weed have been much debated.

“Archaeological evidence for ritualized consumption of cannabis is limited and contentious,” says the abstract of the study, published in the journal Science Advances.

This discovery helps establish just how far back people used weed.

“This suggests cannabis was smoked as part of ritual and/or religious activities in western China at least 2,500 years ago and that the cannabis plants produced high levels of psychoactive compounds,” say the authors.

When did they first cultivate?

Weed grew wild in the mountain foothills of the region, but it would have had very low levels of cannabinol. In order to get the psychoactive effect, the plant would have had to have been cultivated.

“The chemical analysis reveals ancient cannabis burning and suggests high levels of psychoactive chemicals, indicating that people may have been cultivating cannabis and possibly actively selecting for stronger specimens or choosing plant populations with naturally high terpenophenolic secondary metabolites.”

“It remains a largely unanswered question as to when, where, and how the plant was first cultivated for higher psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) production,” according to the study.