Essence Blog

21 Fun and Interesting Facts About Cannabis

You’re at a party, and everyone’s showing off how smart they are.

They’re talking politics, economics, literature, history…

Someone mentions George Washington.

“Hey,” you blurt out. “Did you know that George Washington grew hemp?”

People look at you, confused. “What?!” they say. “That can’t possibly be true!”

Oh, but it is true.

And then you drop some more fun, interesting cannabis facts on them, leaving them all googly-eyed and amazed.

How’d you come to know all these things about cannabis?

Because you read this blog post.

Sure, there’s lots of interesting cannabis science and lifestyle-related stuff out there to learn.

But if you want to really throw people for a loop, then you should learn these 21 fun and interesting facts about cannabis!

Let’s get started!

1. George Washington Grew Hemp.

George Washington Grew Hemp

We weren’t joking before. Our first president didn’t just defeat the British and help create the most powerful country on Earth.

He also grew hemp.

Hemp – which comes from the same plant family as medical/recreational cannabis but contains practically no THC – was considered a cash crop during the 18th century and was used to make clothes, paper, and rope.

2. The 17th Century Virginia Assembly Required Its Residents to Grow Hemp

The year was 1632, and the English navy needed hemp for their lines and sailcloth. So the Virginia Assembly required that every planter “provide seede of flaxe and hempe and sowe the same.”

3. Bhutan Has Way Too Much Wild Cannabis

Bhutan Has Way Too Much Wild Cannabis

In the Kingdom of Bhutan, cannabis is about as common as grass. It grows everywhere – in the wild, in cities — even in the cracks of sidewalks.

It’s used to feed pigs, but it’s commonly viewed as a pest. A real weed, we guess!

(Bad pun, we know. Good thing there’s only one more left in the entire post…)

4. Shakespeare Smoked Cannabis

Shakespeare Smoked Cannabis

“To toke, or not to toke. That is the question.”

Apparently, Shakespeare’s response to that question was, “Toke!”

Scientists found 400-year-old pipes in Shakespeare’s garden outside his home in Stratford-upon-Avon. Out of the 24 pipes they found, eight of them contained traces of cannabis.

Guess we finally know where his genius came from– at least, in part!

5. The Famous Trapped Chilean Miners Were Given Cannabis

The Famous Trapped Chilean Miners Were Given Cannabis

Remember the Chilean mining accident back in 2010 in which 33 miners were trapped underground for 69 days?

People smuggled cannabis down to them to help them cope with the ordeal.

They were smoking so much that the government considered using a drug-sniffing dog to intercept the cannabis-filled letters that were being slipped down the rescue shaft.

6. Richard Nixon Unwittingly Helped Louis Armstrong Smuggle Cannabis Through U.S. Customs

We know.

It hardly seems believable, and the story may very well be made up.

But self-proclaimed agent provocateur and Nixon biographer Roger Stone says that Richard Nixon was a huge fan of Louis Armstrong.

So in 1958, when Vice President Nixon was at a New York airport and happened to see a very nervous-looking Louis Armstrong (who happened to be carrying three pounds of cannabis in his suitcase) about to pass through customs inspection, Nixon walked over to him, offered to carry Armstrong’s bags, and just walked the trumpet player past inspection without any trouble.

7. Cameron Diaz Bought Cannabis from Snoop Dogg in High School

Cameron Diaz Bought Cannabis from Snoop Dogg in High School

According to Diaz, both she and Snoop Dogg attended Long Beach Polytechnic High School.

Whenever she needed to re-up on cannabis, Snoop was the dude she went to.

At least, she’s pretty sure he was.

Her memory might be a little…wait for it…hazy?

(Hey, we warned you!)

8. People Have Been Using Cannabis For at Least 12,000 Years

People Have Been Using Cannabis For at Least 12000 Years

Cannabis is one of humanity’s oldest crops according to the book Marihuana: The First 12,000 Years.

9. The Ancient Egyptians Used Cannabis to Performs Enemas

The Ancient Egyptians Used Cannabis to Performs Enemas

Yup. Enemas.

It might not be the most common reason why people use cannabis, but hey: don’t knock it till you’ve tried it!

But the Ancient Egyptians weren’t all about the enemas. They also used cannabis to treat glaucoma and inflammation.

10. Cannabis Was the First Product Ever Sold Online

Cannabis Was the First Product Ever Sold Online

Of course, it was an illegal black market sale, but that still counts, right?

In the early 1970s, students at Standford used their ARPANET accounts at Standford University’s Artificial Intelligence Laboratory to connect with students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in order to arrange a cannabis sale.

11. The United States Grows the Largest Amount of Cannabis in the World


Last year, the website Civilized published an article entitled “Here are the Top 10 Marijuana-Producing Nations.”

Their list was based in part on a U.N. report as well as “the opinions of other experts.” They estimated that America is the #1 cannabis-producing country on Earth.

Here’s the complete list:

  1. United States
  2. Morocco
  3. Afghanistan
  4. Mexico
  5. Colombia
  6. Paraguay
  7. Jamaica
  8. Canada
  9. Nigeria
  10. India

12. Hemp Doesn’t Make You Feel Intoxicated Because of One Little Gene

Hemp Doesn’t Make You Feel Intoxicated Because of One Little Gene

In 2011, University of Saskatchewan researchers discovered a gene that’s responsible for Cannabis sativa’s psychoactive effects.

The hemp plant belongs to the same species as psychoactive cannabis, but it’s missing THCA – tetrahydrocannabinolic acid.

If that sounds a lot like THC, it’s because THCA is the precursor to THC. THCA becomes THC when it’s exposed to high levels of heat, a process called decarboxylation.

Hemp doesn’t have the gene that creates the enzyme that produces THCA.

Conversely, psychoactive cannabis has lots of THCA, but it doesn’t have a lot of CBDA – cannabidiolic acid, the precursor to CBD.

Hemp, on the other hand, is very rich in CBDA, which is why it’s commonly used for CBD-based products.

13. Babies in North Carolina Tested Positive for Cannabis in Their Urine…Because of Soap

Babies in North Carolina Tested Positive for Cannabis in Their Urine...Because of Soap

That’s right. Alarm bells went off in a North Carolina hospital after they noticed an increase in newborns testing positive for cannabis in their urine.

This is usually bad news for the mother; it indicates that she’s been using cannabis, which could lead to an unpleasant visit from CPS.

However, upon further investigation, researchers discovered that there were several ingredients in baby soap — formulas made by Johnson & Johnson, CVS, and Aveeno — that were causing a false positive on cannabis urine tests.

To be clear, these soaps don’t contain any cannabis. So if you’re using them on your newborn, it’s fine. Just don’t be surprised if your kid’s urine test comes back positive for Mary Jane!

14. Cannabis is Legal in North Korea

Cannabis is Legal in North Korea

According to reports from defectors, visitors, and experts, cannabis is either legal in North Korea, or there’s little to no enforcement of cannabis law.

Bulgarian journalist Darmon Richter reported buying a bag of cannabis in North Korea for 80 cents. Not only that, Richter’s regime-appointed “chaperone” smoked cannabis with him and the other tourists in their group.

Huh. Who would have thought?

15. There are More Dispensaries In Colorado Than Starbucks and McDonald’s Combined

There are More Dispensaries In Colorado Than Starbucks and McDonald’s Combined

We’ve got a lot of love for Colorado.

It was the first of two states to legalize recreational cannabis, thus providing a model for other states to follow suit.

But there’s another reason that the state deserves a special place in the Cannabis Hall of Fame.

The state literally has more dispensaries than they have Starbucks and McDonald’s combined – over three times more!

Number of medical dispensaries: 195

Number of recreational dispensaries: 169

Total number of dispensaries: 364

Number of Starbucks: 80

Number of McDonald’s: 31

Total number of Starbucks and McDonald’s: 111

Well done, Colorado. Well done.

16. Medical Cannabis Was Legal in the U.S Prior to 1937


Before the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act, manufacturers of medicinal tinctures used cannabis as a common ingredient. And they didn’t even have to mention that on the labeling!

But then cannabis quickly became linked to the growing anti-Mexican sentiment at the time. Harry Anslinger, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics Commissioner, took advantage of this sentiment to help pave the way for the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, which basically made cannabis unaffordable for most people.

17. The Largest Cannabis Seizure was over 6 Million Pounds

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the “bulkiest drug seizure” of cannabis was 2,903 metric tons, or 6.4 million pounds — all of which came from a Colombian drug operation in 1982 – which ended up being one-fifth of the total amount of cannabis being illegally imported into the United States per year at the time.

18. The First Cannabis Sellers were Eastern European Nomads

They’re known as the Yamnaya, and they were from the region which is now Russia and Ukraine.

According to researchers, these traders might have traded cannabis throughout Europe and East Asia around 5000 years ago.

Cannabis was growing naturally and being used in both Europe and Asia at least 10,200 years ago.

But archaeological records indicate a rise in cannabis use in East Asia 5,000 years ago when the Yamanya had created a trade route across the Eastern European Steppe. Yamnaya sites also show evidence of cannabis burning!

19. Legal Cannabis Has the Potential to Generate Billions in Tax Revenue

Legal Cannabis Has the Potential to Generate Billions in Tax Revenue

The Cato Institute did a study and found that if the federal government imposed taxes on cannabis similar to the taxes on cigarettes and alcohol, the revenue would equal $8.7 billion each year.

20. Rastafarians can Legally Use Cannabis in Italy for Religious Reasons

Rastafarians can Legally Use Cannabis in Italy for Religious Reasons

The Italian Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that possessing or using cannabis is not against the law but a religious act if the person is Rastafarian.

More specifically, they declared that Rastafarians use cannabis “not only as a medical but also a meditative herb. And, as such [it is] a possible bearer of the psychophysical state to contemplation and prayer.”

21. It’s Virtually Impossible to Overdose On Cannabis

There’s some debate on what qualifies as a lethal dose, but the general consensus is that you would have to smoke 1500 pounds of cannabis in 15 minutes, which is physically impossible.

We hope these 21 fun and interesting facts about cannabis have left you sufficiently armed for your next party!

If you’d like to learn more about cannabis, check out our knowledgebase section!

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