When was marijuana invented?

Fun with referral logs…

Got a referral today to this site for the question: What year was marijuana invented?

Um, Sorry Virginia… Viagra was invented. Marijuana was created by God.

In fact, some could argue that the existence of cannabis is itself proof that God exists. After all, what possible random chance could end up with a plant that has such an amazing range of useful and safe properties as cannabis? A plant that is extremely nourishing, provides fiber for clothing and building materials, provides oil for fuel, shrinks cancerous tumors, provides relief and/or cures for a wide variety of illnesses. And it makes you feel good and helps you reach a spiritual state without harmful side effects. Absolute proof that it was put there by God.

And so I brought that up to my friend George, who doesn’t believe in God, but is a strong believer in evolution (and yes, I know you can believe in both).

Me: So George, isn’t cannabis proof that God exists?

George: Not in the least. Sure, it sounds good, but if you’re making the case that God exists because cannabis is useful, then how do you explain poison ivy or deadly toxic plants like nightshade? Why would God make them?

Me: Well, how does evolution explain them?

George: Easy. Evolution is about reinforcing traits that end up helping the organism reproduce, and then those traits are passed on. Plants that develop toxins end up surviving (and reinforcing those toxin genes through reproduction) once animals learn (also through evolution) not to eat the plants or they’ll die.

Me: But that doesn’t explain cannabis. All those useful traits for humans certainly don’t help the plant survive…

George: Ahh, but all evolution cares about is that the species survives and reproduces (not the individual plant). Look around you — cannabis is everywhere. Those traits that it developed turned out to insure the survival and flourishment of the species. What other plant is cared for so lovingly? Clearly the traits worked and thus were reinforced by evolution.

Evolution can be pretty sneaky sometimes.

So can God.

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19 Responses to When was marijuana invented?

  1. Ripmeupacuppa says:

    God invented evolution! Who else could come up with such a sensible system?

    George, get a grip!

  2. Humans are hard wired to understand intentionality. So when something happens we look for some intentional agent that made it so. Very smart model, actually, because other humans and animals are acting intentionally so it’s important to understand how those intentional beings act. The model of intentionality will also work for many practical issue that are systematic – like the weather, lunar cycles, ebb & flow, and so on. It doesn’t matter much practically if the moon doesn’t “intend” to cause ebb and flow, because the effects are similar.

    Don’t believe me. Well, when was the last time you kicked your car, hit your computer or harbored ill will towards a weather phenomenon? Sure, it isn’t “fair” that it rains on your parade. Unfortunately fair has nothing to do with it 😉

    Basically, just because something happens to be useful to an intentional being doesn’t prove that another intentional being necessarily put it there.

    Kids will ask to no end what this or that “is for”. It’s simply the hard wiring talking, and it’s asking teleological questions. Contrast this to asking mechanistic questions, that is “what series of events lead up to this phenomenon being observed?”

    As the philosopher Bertrand Russell pointed out there’s nothing at the outset that clearly determines what questions result in the best answers and explanations. However, in practice it has been determined beyond any reasonable doubt that the mechanistic approach by far produces the best outcome.

    Just take nose bridges. Ask a kid and it’ll readily say that nose bridges “are for putting spectacles on”. And lo and behold, nose bridges are very handy for that sort of thing. Making the claim that an intentional being “put nose bridges there for wearing glasses” offers an explanation, but it doesn’t make us any smarter. (Monkeys might answer the question differently as they don’t use glasses.)

    Asking what stuff lead up to nose bridges being around is an entirely different thing. Then we have to figure out the dynamics of embryology, genes (DNA), expression of genes, how RNA works, how structual integrity (like “spandrels”, earlier structures that can’t be removed and has structural side-effects , etc.) impact the expression of the living being.

    In and of itself the “mechanistic” question doesn’t prove or disprove anything. It just happens to give answers an order of a magnitude greater than just resigning to postulating a creator that did all sorts or things “for a purpose”.

    Cannabis didn’t spring into existence because it was “for” some purpose. It’s just there, obeying the laws of nature. It’s a living organism that happened to survive pretty well in a particular environment suited for it.

  3. BruceM says:

    I’m as atheist as one can be, but if you want to convince me that there is a “creator” or “intelligent designer” the best evidence I can think of is the fact that our brains have receptors built into them (mu receptors) and there is a plant, papaver somniferum (the opium poppy) that makes a chemical which serves no purpose other than to bind to the receptors in our brains to make us feel good. Without humans (and some other mammals too, which have mu receptors I suppose) there is no purpose for the plant to make this chemical, and how would it come to make this one chemical – of all the gazillions of chemicals (or none at all)? It’s quite amazing and if I were to believe in god, I’d see it as absolute proof that he wants us to be happy (to paraphrase Ben Franklin’s quote about beer).

    Of course such thinking is fallacious due in part to its avoidance of the anthropic principle as well as the fact that there could have been (and likely were) a gazillion other plants that made random chemicals that did NOT bind to any receptors in our brains to make us feel good. Many plans have chemicals that do the exact opposite – make us feel bad, if not dead.

    Still, the fact that we have these receptors in our brain and a plant makes a chemical that serves itself no purpose but serves US a great purpose (which does, it turn, serve the plant a purpose as it induces us to harvest, grow, and protect the plant – crazy drug warriors who will always lose notwithstanding).

    The world is so much more interesting and amazing when you’re an atheist.

  4. Price says:

    The only reason that the world is more interesting as an atheist is because of all the bone-headed folks that believe in God, however they define him/her/it. If THEY would act right then most folks wouldn’t have a problem looking for and seeing the intelligent design of our world…

    A plant has the ability to know what causes it to reproduce better? How? Does it think? Causal reaction? Please…Why would a tomato be a tomato then? Lord knows no plant would want to be a watermelon…

  5. claygooding says:

    Puff,Puff,who cares why cannabis evolved to be the most therapeutic plant on earth? Apparently while it was evolving to it’s present make-up,it got something right.
    Here is one of the most complete lists of studies and medical applications of cannabis:
    Granny Crows list @ http://www.marijuana.com/medicinal-marijuana/140348-granny-storm-crows-mmj-reference-list.html

  6. BruceM says:

    Price: plants don’t know what cause them to reproduce better (by “reproduce better” i think we can agree that means have an evolutionary advantage so as to keep from going extinct and reproduce – the species as a whole – as much/often as possible). But if 100,000 plants evolve genetic mutations and two of them are positive, thus allowing them to reproduce better, those two plants will likely survive and thrive while the other 99,998 will likely die off and go extinct.

    No first hand knowledge or awareness is necessary on the part of the plant.

  7. Maria says:

    Hrm, maybe I’m just too laid back but I’ve never found evolution, spirituality and god (or a higher power) to be as incompatible with each other as some say they are.

    Zealots and organized religion and thuggery on the other hand, are incompatible with pretty much everything, including polite society.

    Now, plants, plants are sneaky little buggers. We’ve made a pact with so many of them over the years. 😉

    Yo, plant, hear me out, we keep you going, you know, minimize your competition, if you know what I mean, and you go do your thing, channel the powers of the sun god into something we can use, alright? Its a winwin all around, howaboutit, you game?

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  9. Shap says:

    God is just an imaginary friend for grown-ups. I don’t have all the answers, but I do find it interesting that logical people who would normally require proof and evidence for their beliefs and convictions in every other aspect of their lives require no such concrete proof in this one area.

  10. i seriously doubt that cannabis plants evolved because the species “intended” for humans to some day invent clothing and getting high after a long day on the job.

    nor is it necessary to create fictions of a universal architect designing things for the amusement of mankind.

    the drug war is convoluted and stupid enough on its own without introducing the religion/evolution debate into the mix.

    humans invent, adapt and think. pot gets you high. good enough!

  11. BruceM says:

    Shap: look into “neurotheology” a lot of great info has been discovered in recent years about the brain and religion. It’s basically a genetic/neurological defect. Just like with cocaine or meth, you can sick someone ‘high on religion’ in an fMRI machine and see specific areas of their brain lighting up. It’s been common knowledge for centuries that religion is just like a drug – that’s why organized religions has such a problem with drugs, they hate the competition and they want all the money. Every dollar spent on heroin is one less dollar given to the Vatican, etc. Just like coke and pepsi, they’re direct competitors and are mutually exclusive amongst end users.

    But I agree, it is amazing how otherwise rational, intelligent people can believe in religion. A lot of them, when questioned, will admit they’re hedging their bets on Pascal’s Wager (might as well believe in god, hell for eternity if I don’t heaven for eternity if I do, the risks vs rewards make it perfectly rational to believe in god), not realizing the logical flaw inherent in that decision… which can be summed up in two words: Which God? Might be a good christian your whole life and end up going to hell because the correct answer was: ZEUS (or Allah, or Zoroaster, or Buddah, or L. Ron Hubbard etc.).

    I’ll just note in passing that when drug warriors try to ban a plant, they’re trying to fight evolution. (a) who the hell do they think they are and (b) no wonder they’re always losing the battle.

  12. Servetus says:

    A higher order explanation of everything living as well as much physical phenomena not considered alive can be found in the Theory of Emergence which can be applied to evolution.

    Emergence means that relationships like those that exist between cannabis and humans form a collective pattern that affects both the evolution of the cannabis plant and the evolution of human behavior and physiology.

    Adding support to emergence is a recent determination by geneticists that Tibetans evolved their ability to withstand low oxygen at high altitudes within the last 2,750 years. That’s barely a blip on the evolutionary time scale. And we already know that people have used cannabis for at least that long.

    With human evolutionary time tables as relatively quick as a few millennia, emergence would indicate that nothing stands to preclude cannabis use from having altered the human evolutionary cycle. By now we could have evolved lungs already acclimated to marijuana smoke, as well as cultivating a symbiotic dependence upon the marijuana plant as a means of countering disabilitating health ailments and anxiety.

  13. Duncan says:

    Cannabis was invented by Bob Dylan and The Beatles in 1964. Subsequently Cheech and Chong stumbled on the secret of how to make pot 20 to 100 times better than the Beatles weed. All funding for launching and perpetuating this direct attack on the American way of life has been funded by George Soros. This is an absolutely true story!! Please forward this message to at least three friends so we can get the word out before pot is legalized this November.

    Just look at what pot did to Paris Hilton! Do we need any more evidence that cannabis will turn you into a dithering idiot? I think not.

  14. claygooding says:

    When you say pot drove Paris Hilton into being a dithering idiot,I hope you realize it was a “short” trip.

  15. DeistAmerican says:

    Cannabis developed high in the mountains with less UV protection. The plant developed cannabinoids to protect itself and its seeds from UV-A and UV-B rays. On the mother about half the oils protects the seeds while it’s forming, the other half goes to form the shell. This is why the shell is where you get your hemp seed oil from. Most animals that evolved after the sea cucumber have an endocannabinoid system that regulates apatite, pain, and the other neuro-transmitters. It was inevitable, that when this plant and animals started crossing paths it would quickly get spread around the world.

    There is a long documentary on youtube somewhere explaining this. Some guy wanted to find the origins of cannabis.

  16. Cannabis says:

    @Duncan, forward to three friends? How about making it your Facebook status for a day and asking your friends to do the same. You could create your own reality in no time flat!

  17. Duncan says:

    Good news folks! Paris Hilton denies smoking cannabis and the charges are dropped! Whew, that was a close one.

  18. DeistAmerican says:

    Here is the link to the documentary. Its the BBC’s “Cannabis The Evil Weed 2009”.


    It starts explaining cannabis’s origin at about 4 minutes.

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