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Hemp History CE

199 CE: Claudius Galen describes the hedonistic use of marijuana

Claudius GalenAelius Galenus or Claudius Galenus (September CE 129 – 199/217), was a prominent Roman (of Greek ethnicity) physician, surgeon and philosopher.

Arguably the most accomplished of all medical researchers of antiquity, Galen contributed greatly to the understanding of numerous scientific disciplines, including anatomy, physiology, pathology,pharmacology,and neurology, as well as philosophy and logic. Galen may have produced more work than any author in antiquity, his output was so profuse that the surviving texts represent nearly half of all the extant literature from ancient Greece.

In his work, 'On the Properties of Foodstuff',  Claudius Galen describes the hedonistic use of cannabis. He compared hemp to the chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus) the sacred tree of Hera which has a very similar apearance. He wrote that in Italy it was customary to serve small cakes containing marijuana for dessert.  These increased the desire to drink; excessive use, however had a stupefying effect.[1]

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200 - 300 CE: Goths bring cannabis to Central Europe

Gothic raidsThe Goths were an East Germanic tribe of Scandinavian origin whose two branches, the Visigoths and the Ostrogoths, played an important role in the fall of the Roman Empire and the emergence of Medieval Europe.

The Ostrogoths developed a vast empire north of the Black Sea in the 3rd century CE. Invading southward from the Baltic Sea, they built up a huge empire stretching from the Dniester to the Volga river and from the Black Sea to the Baltic shores. The Ostrogoths were probably literate in the 3rd century, and their trade with the Romans was highly developed.[1]

In the second and third century CE the Ostrogoths brought hemp from western Russia to central Europe. It marks the beginning of the use of cannabis as fibre in this area. The Slavonic migrations of the ninth century gave futher impetus to the spread and cultivation of hemp.[2]

The Visigoths were the western branches of the nomadic tribes of Germanic peoples referred to collectively as the Goths. They too knew the value of cannabis. Woven into a stout fabric, Visigoths used hemp for protection in fighting as long as metal armour was relatively rare in 'Germania'.[3]

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