Cannabis chronicles: Europe after 500 AD


Hemp was used to manufacture ropes and riggings for sailing. Also cannabis was recognised for its analgesic properties, for treating gastrointestinal disorders, oedema and a plaster for boils in the twelfth century.

In the middle ages cannabis, opium and alcohol were some of the less well known ingredients used in witch cult and they were part of “hexing herbs”. 

Cannabis was part of Eastern European culture and folklore for centuries. In Ukraine cannabis harvested on St John’s Eve was thought to deter evil actions. Slavs in Southern Europe believed that appearance of cannabis on a wedding day foretold future marital harmony and contentment. In Poland hemp dance was performed on Shrove Tuesday and sometimes seeds were eaten on special occasions. In Poland and Lithuania cannabis seeds soup was prepared traditionally on Christmas Eve, and in Latvia and Ukraine the seeds are eaten on Three Kings’ Day.

The earliest record of use of hemp in Britain comes from seeds found in a Roman well in York. Pollen traces suggested that hemp was grown throughout the Anglo-Saxon period. According to the theories it was used for fiber production but also for medical purposes. Another source that support these theories are Shakespeare plays where cannabis use for rope and medical treatment was documented. [1]

The Spanish brought cannabis to the Americas in the mid-1500s and the English introduced it at Jamestown in 1611, where it became a popular commercial crop alongside tobacco. 

In 1799, Napoleon brought cannabis back to France from Egypt where it was investigated for its pain relieving and sedative qualities. [2]


  1. CANNABIS The Genus Cannabis
  2. Cannabis: A Journey Through the Ages

Read more at Cannabis Chronicles

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