The earliest written records from China indicate hemp (cannabis) was used from the earliest times.
The male hemp plant was used for fiber to make fishing nets and clothes. Hemp and silk were the two sources of textile fibers, the first for the use of the common people and the latter for the wealthy and the aged. Specific instructions are given about using hemp cloth for mourning rites at the deaths of ones parents.
The female hemp plant was one of the most important agricultural crops from the early times. Hemp seed was one of the five top grains in ancient China along with millet, barley, rice, and soybeans.
The use of Cannabis in medicine was probably also a very early development. Since ancient people used hemp seed as food, it was quite natural for them to also discover the medicinal properties of the plant. Later hemp was used in the development of the first paper and its seeds were crushed to make oil for cooking, lamps and other uses.
Source: Li, Hui-Lin (1974). An Arch & Hist Account of Cannabis in China. Economic Botany, 28:4 pp. 437-448.
|Cultivation, production and trade, Medicinal use of drugs