Origins of Marijuana

Learn about the origins of the marijuana plant in this Howcast video.


Up next in Marijuana Facts & Medical Marijuana (47 videos)

Anything you ever wanted to know about marijuana is in these videos. Sunil Kuman Aggarwal, M.D. and Steph Sherer of Americans for Safe Access give the lowdown on synthetic marijuana; the efforts to legalize marijuana; what's involved in getting a medical marijuana card; the effects of eating pot vs. smoking it; medicinal uses for marijuana; and much more.




Despite what you might have heard about marijuana being some alien demon plant that showed up to tempt us to sin, marijuana is actually a natural plant that evolved as part of the earth's ecosystem and biosphere just like every other plant and organism, including human beings who are all genetically linked as part of the web of life. And so marijuana, or actually the scientific name is cannabis, can be traced on that web of life to about 37 million years ago, 38 million depending on which book you look at. So about that time, which is actually relatively recent as far as, you know, activity of earth goes. The dinosaurs lived like 300, 400 million years ago, and humans evolved maybe, you know, a million or two million years, or hominids. So this is kind of the frame that we're talking about. So plants were already around, but this plant came 37 million years ago probably India, China, Afghanistan, somewhere in that range maybe two origins in the Himalayas area of Asia. And essentially once human beings started using it, which goes way back into prehistory, it spread with humans. Now every country in the world marijuana is found. It's probably the world's most widely domesticated plant. So it goes back pretty far through human history and prehistory. And now, you know, there's more genetic diversity in marijuana than in dogs, the whole canine family, and that's because of all the different genetic recombination that can go on and constraints and crossing. It's actually a two sex plant, male and female. And naturally, it pollinates itself with the wind. The male pollen blows into the female flowers that catch that pollen. And when the female secrete this resin, that's the thing that we use and we call marijuana, but the whole plant has a whole bunch of other uses if you're looking at the stock for fiber and cellulose or the seed for food, and so on. So that's really the natural origin of marijuana.


  • Americans for Safe Access

    Americans for Safe Access is the largest national member-based organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research.

  • Dr. Sunil Kumar Aggarwal

    Sunil Kumar Aggarwal, M.D., 2010, Ph.D. Medical Geography, 2008 (UW) completed his internship at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, Washington and is currently a Resident in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at NYU’s Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine. As an NSF Graduate Research Fellow, Dr. Aggarwal conducted studies of medical cannabis use under the first-ever granted federal Certificates of Confidentiality with 176 patients recruited from sites of both cannabis delivery and medical consultation. He has authored or co-authored peer-reviewed papers on cannabinoid medical science, dosing, and human rights in addition to a book chapter in a Palliative Medicine textbook and another for the general public.