The History of Cannabis Seeds: From Ancient Times to Modern Day

Cannabis has a long and complicated history of use, cultivation, and manipulation by humans. The earliest evidence of its use dates back to more than 12,000 years ago in China, where it was used for fiber, food, and medicine. Since then, the plant has been used for a number of purposes – from food to fiber and from medicine to recreation. Cannabis seeds have been part of this journey too.

In this overview, we will look at the history of cannabis seeds – from their ancient beginnings all the way through modern-day life. We will look at how cannabis cultivation has evolved over time, who is responsible for selecting which genetic traits we get to enjoy in modern seed varieties today, as well as which widely available strains were available before legalization.

In addition to outlining some helpful facts about cannabis seed genetics and selection criteria, we also provide an overview of how cannabis growers can select appropriate seed varieties based on desired characteristics and desired outcomes:

  • Overview of cannabis seed history
  • Genetic traits and selection criteria
  • Strains available before legalization
  • Selecting appropriate seed varieties

Ancient History of Cannabis Seeds

The use of cannabis seed dates back thousands of years, believed to originate in Central Asia as early as 12,000 years ago. Archaeological evidence suggests that cannabis was first used as a food source in China around 8000 BC, with evidence of use in Europe and the Middle East being found at around the same time. By the 5th century BC, cannabis was being cultivated in India, and it is believed that by the early centuries AD, the plant had spread to other regions.

Let’s take a closer look at the ancient history of cannabis seeds:

Ancient China

Cannabis seeds have a long and fascinating history. Ancient cultures used them both as food and medicine. The earliest recorded use of cannabis seeds as the food was in China, dating back to at least 6,000 BC.

Archaeologists have unearthed pottery vessels in Chinese sites with traces of cannabis seeds inside. These vessels are believed to be cooking containers or used to store oil pressed from them. Some experts speculate that Chinese traders traveling the Silk Road may have brought cannabis plants with them, introducing them to new cultures along the way.

Thanks to ancient records, we know that cannabis has been valued for its medicinal benefits in China since 2,737 BC when its first recorded use was described in the ‘Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing’ (Divine Farmer’s Herb-Root Classic). This compilation of early medical knowledge is known as a foundational document of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It states that consuming hemp seeds is beneficial for “dry constipation” and “abdominal pain due to water deficiency.” Cannabis seeds are also believed to help wind problems associated with menstrual cramps and digestive issues today, according to TCM practitioners.

Ancient India

The earliest evidence of cannabis cultivation comes from India, dating as far back as 2000 BCE. Ancient Indian scriptures and Sanskrit documents refer to the plant as one of five sacred plants conducive to bliss. Early Indian literature suggests that the plant was used for medicinal and recreational purposes and that it was consumed in different forms, such as rolled up into leaves or eaten in combination with milk, ghee, and other substances. It’s believed that ancient Indians even offered cannabis to the gods and goddesses in religious ceremonies.

The earliest way of consuming cannabis included smoking the dried flowers, which were later mixed with herbs. The practice of mixing cannabis with herbs is known as Bhang, which could be smoked or taken orally as a type of Ayurvedic medicine. Cannabis was also discovered in India, growing wild on mountaintops surrounded by villages where locals grew it for personal use or even exchanged it for other goods and services.

In short, by 2000 BCE, India had developed various methods for harvesting cannabis and cultivating it in their own communities.

Ancient Egypt

The ancient Egyptians used cannabis for medicinal purposes, with the fibers being woven into fabrics as early as 4,000 BC. The seeds were first noted in Egyptian dietary records around 1,500 B.C., making them one of the oldest known plants cultivated by humans.

In Egyptian writings from the time of Moses (approximately 1,400 BC), there are directions for using hemp seeds to treat hemorrhoids and other ailments. Cannabis was also used extensively in healing applications and even appeared in herbal mixtures located within tomb excavations from this era. This suggests that cannabis was widely used medicinally in ancient Egypt as a treatment for various conditions.

The presence of cannabis pollen around a mummy’s head indicates that it was either smoked or used topically during mummification rituals. Furthermore, Herodotus—often referred to as the “Father of History”—noted in his writings that those living along the Nile Valley burned hemp incense during religious ceremonies while inhaling its fumes to produce a trance-like state.

Ancient Greece

The ancient Greeks were aware of Cannabis’s benefits, and the historical evidence does suggest that they may have cultivated some variety of the plant to harvest hemp fibers and seeds. There are records from around the 4th century B.C. indicating that the Greeks deployed Hemp rope in their fishing fleets, suggesting that they could have also been sourcing their own homegrown Cannabis fibers or seeds rather than simply trading with other cultures such as Persia or Scythia at the time.

Back then, the farmer would collect the crop’s ripe seeds from sowing in the next season to ensure a successful harvest, showcasing a great deal of ingenuity and foresight on their part. The active compound in Cannabis Sativa L., THC, is not present in any significant amounts in the seed (thus giving them their characteristic low psychoactive effects), which allows farmers to store them without fear of degradation – or contact highs!

The Greeks’ knowledge of agriculture was incredibly sophisticated and far beyond anything we can currently understand from such an ancient culture; with knowledge dating back to as early as the 7th century BC regarding

  • crop rotation
  • pest control techniques
  • controlling weeds

This deep understanding of agronomy combined with Hemp rope being supplied to Greece by Scythia may point towards a direct use for cultivations rather than trade goods alone, although further evidence is needed on this front.

Ancient Rome

Ancient Rome was a hotbed of cannabis seed use, with most historians believing that cannabis was carried to the region by traders from ancient China and the Middle East. The crop grew easily in the Mediterranean climate, and its psychoactive properties were soon discovered by the citizens of Rome. Historians speculate that this discovery led to widespread cannabis seed cultivation for recreational and potential medical use.

The earliest written record of cannabis seeds comes from Pliny the Elder, who wrote about his personal observations regarding their unique abilities to encourage energy and creativity. He claimed in De Materia Medica, “Hemp seeds are interesting because the warmth of Sativa stimulates creative energy when taken dry and eaten.” From this observation, he concluded, “the drug is so productive in strength that if it is taken dry, it renders people loquacious and cheerful as if they had been drinking.” Other texts from ancient Rome mention hemp as an analgesic or to induce sleep; however, it was usually used as fiber for clothing or paper production.

During Roman times, ladies of leisure smoked hemp seeds before parties in order to have an altered consciousness and enhanced sensual pleasure. According to ancient depictions found on pottery fragments, hemp seeds were also used medicinally during this era, particularly for stomach ailments and inflammations due to their purported soothing desired effects when ingested or applied topically.

Modern History of Cannabis Seeds

The modern history of cannabis seeds began in the late 19th century when they first became commercially available. Since then, they have become a popular choice for both recreational and medicinal use. Cannabis seeds have a long and interesting history, with different strains being developed over the years.

In this article, we will explore the modern history of cannabis seeds and how they have evolved over the years.

19th Century

In the Grand Age of Electricity, which began in 1837 and lasted until 1901, mankind experienced an incredible industrial and scientific revolution. This period saw the birth of many of our modern technologies, with the world being changed forever. It was also during this time that cannabis seeds began to spread across the globe.

The 19th century was a time of great change in Europe and the US, with emigrants traveling across the world to new countries. Many settled in parts of Eastern Europe where hemp production was already well established, bringing new varieties of cannabis with them. They began to cultivate strains that were popular back home, often crossing existing varieties to create their own distinct type, thus planting the seeds for today’s ever-changing cannabis landscape.

Many also brought their favorites when migrating to North America, as settlers often came from places where hemp cultivation was common for industrial purposes like rope making. Over time, farming techniques improved as farmers developed better techniques for growing plants and managing land resources, further improving weed strains and increasing yields for both commercial and personal use.

By 1900 cannabis had become an international crop grown around the world – from China in East Asia to Mexico in Central America – leading up to what we now call modern marijuana or ‘weed.’

20th Century

In the early 20th century, cannabis farming continued to expand, with many countries establishing national laws that either legalized or strictly regulated its production. In the United States, the first federal law preventing the sale and use of marijuana was passed shortly after World War I. In Canada, marijuana remained illegal until 1996, when a policy of zero-tolerance was replaced by one allowing individuals to possess a certain amount without penalty.

Europeans were some of the first to experiment with cross-breeding cannabis seeds for specific traits like THC potency and taste. Middle Eastern farmers also developed their own strains of cannabis over the years, primarily used for medical purposes or ritualistic religious ceremonies. Many of these strains spread throughout Europe in the 20th century and remain popular today.

By the late 20th century, Dutch botanists had developed some of the most sought-after strains in existence at that time – such as White Widow and Skunk 1 – by selectively breeding certain varieties together to create unique characteristics. These “modern” breeds quickly became favorites among smokers around the world for their heavy yields and powerful effects.

In addition to cross-breeding various seed types, advances in agriculture gave growers more control over their crops than ever before. This included methods like hydroponics, grow lights, and humidity-controlling equipment, which all help ensure that plants receive optimum amounts of sunlight, water, and nutrients during different parts of their development cycle – from germination to harvest.

These changes have allowed cannabis cultivators to produce higher quality plants with greater yields than what could be achieved through traditional open-air farming methods in many areas of Europe where growing seasons are short or temperatures too low for ideal growth cycles indoors.

21st Century

The 21st century has seen a revolution in cannabis seeds and their availability, and now you can find the cheapest weed seeds around. With the rise of new technology, various plant breeding programs, and improved cultivation practices, the number of strains available on the market has grown exponentially. The majority of seed banks now offer an array of Indica, Sativa, and hybrid strains, as well as ‘super-strains’ and designer breeds.

Medical cannabis use has also become increasingly common throughout much of the world and this has seen a surge in seed demand as patients and dispensaries look for specific types that can provide particular benefits. As a result, breeders have developed a wide variety of strains designed specifically to treat medical issues such as anxiety or chronic pain; many containing higher levels of CBD than originally found in more traditional cannabis strains.

Finally, with legalization movements in countries like Canada and Uruguay taking shape, governments are introducing regulations around cannabis cultivation that identify specific THC content levels in plants grown from certain types of seeds – such as industrial hemp – which is used for refining into oil or textiles or industrial foods. With this regulation comes greater access to specialized seed varieties that can meet these new requirements for legal growth, bringing us closer to fully realized markets for all types of cannabis strains than ever before, including the cheapest weed seeds around.


The history of cannabis seeds is a fascinating tale that spans thousands of years. It all began in ancient Asia, spread to Europe, and then eventually to the Americas. Today, cannabis seeds are popular around the world and can be found in a variety of forms, from small packets to larger bags.

Cannabis seeds have grown in popularity in recent years due to their unique nutritional benefits and their wide variety of uses for cooking, baking, and creating beverages with numerous health properties. As technology continues to advance, we will likely continue to see new uses for cannabis seeds emerge from traditional cultures all over the world.

In conclusion, with its fascinating history stretching far back into ancient times, cannabis seeds are an incredibly versatile food source that has shaped cultures across the globe for centuries. There is much still left to learn about this incredible plant and discover new ways of using its unique benefits.



Power & Money

Photo of author


Santiago writes about the fascinating, unexpected side of life for Unfinished Man. He explores intriguing subcultures, people, and trends that reveal the weirdness hiding below the surface. Santiago provides an insider’s perspective shaped by his own experiences pushing boundaries and embracing the unconventional. His curiosity and passion for storytelling give readers a glimpse into unfamiliar worlds.

Leave a Comment