The use of cannabis dates as far back as 2800 BC, when the discovery of its medicinal properties started. It was a plant quickly recognized for its various properties and harnessed by different cultures in different parts of the world.

Before we delve into cannabis use in the various cultures of the world, we must take a look at the multiple benefits of cannabis, as this is what dictates its use in diverse cultures across the globe.

Happy woman smoking joint


Cannabis has two different strains: Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica. Each of these strains has its specific effects on the body. The Sativa produces a cerebral high in the user. It creates a refreshing and energizing effect.

Cannabis indica, on the other hand, is associated with total body relaxation and produces a relaxing and sleepy effect on the user. Consumers of cannabis from years ago take it for the following reasons.

Medicinal reasons

Cannabis is used in some cultures mainly for recreational purposes. They would roll joints, sit in groups, and discuss while smoking in such places. In such a situation, a Sativa strain is mainly consumed. Individuals also smoke joints in several countries of the world for recreational purposes.

Spiritual purposes

Cannabis is used in most cultures for spiritual purposes. Like many mind-altering plants, cannabis has been used for spiritual purposes for thousands of years. It is accepted in Hinduism, Islam, Rastafarianism, and other cultures in Asia, Africa, and other parts of the world. Some cultures also believe the intake of cannabis will help them attain spiritual enlightenment faster.

Cannabis is a drug that goes far back and has stood the test of time. Even today, the legalization of cannabis is still being fought for. It is one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States and other parts of the world today.


As the legalization of cannabis spreads fast all over the world, cultures, and religions are increasing their usage more and more. Different cultures in different countries use it for various purposes. Here are different cultures and how they are making use of cannabis.

Cannabis and the Chinese culture

The use of cannabis in Chinese culture dates as far back as the period of ancient China. The Gushi people were part of the earliest people in China to imbibe the use of cannabis. Still, not long after, cannabis was listed as a medicinal herb, its various services and its psychoactive properties. There were speculations about its effect on making someone see ghosts.
Cannabis also has some roots in Taoism as an entheogen. An entheogen is a neologism to designate psychoactive substances to enhance visionary experiences in religious and cultural terms. Taoist priests used cannabis together with ginsengs to see into the future. In Taoism, cannabis was reserved only for priests and not other members. Later, the Chinese abandoned the use of cannabis together with Taoism and moved to another religion.
In modern-day China, cannabis is dominant in the Uighur culture, consisting primarily of Muslims. Cannabis was majorly used for spiritual purposes in China.

Cannabis and the Indian Culture

The use of cannabis among the Indians grew and became widespread throughout Asia in countries like Pakistan and Afghan and was gradually imbibed into the Hindu culture.

Cannabis was listed as a plant with medicinal and spiritual effects. Cannabis was also known in India as Charas, ganja, and bhang. Cannabis sativa was one of the ingredients used in preparing soma, a type of intoxication ritual drink, and was listed as one of the sacred plants.

There are speculations that the known Hindi god Shiva uses cannabis in his training.

Apart from its cultural use as a recreational and spiritual plant, the medicinal use of cannabis was also recognized and used in treating catarrh and diarrhea. As time progressed, its use as a narcotic in treating lack of appetite and pain was known. It is known in Ayurveda for the treatment of pain.

The recreational use of cannabis is still prohibited in India today by the government, but its cultural and spiritual importance in the country cannot be overlooked. Today, a variant of cannabis, also known as bhang, is used instead and consumed in most country festivities as part of the culture.

African Rastafarian man smoking joint

Cannabis and the English culture

The use of cannabis in the English culture is mainly recreational and medicinal. The recreational use of cannabis in Europe dates back to the time of Napoleon when the soldiers took to cannabis due to boredom after their fight with Egypt.

While the production and sale of cannabis have not yet been legalized, it has been decriminalized in most parts of the country, with the British police no longer making the enforcement a top priority. The law is no longer as binding as before, and this is some progress in the cannabis industry as far as the United Kingdom is concerned.

The United Kingdom is gradually on its way to legalizing the recreational use of cannabis. The medicinal use of cannabis was legalized sometime in November 2018 and was moved to class B.

Cannabis and the Scythians

Scythians and cannabis go a long way together, which is why they cannot be ignored in cannabis and culture today. The Scythians were a nomadic tribe that dominated Central Eurasia, located between Central Asia and Eastern Europe between the 8th century and the 3rd century BC. Cannabis was deeply rooted in the culture of the Scythians. Cannabis was used in the rituals of their dead. They burned hemp seeds during the funeral burning ritual, and as the smoke began to emerge, they shouted out with joy.
They believed the ritual would help the deceased and those of them that were left behind. They also recognized the effects of the Sativa strains as they used them to get over sorrow and lighten up their mood.
The Syncthians’ way of consuming cannabis was majorly by inhaling it. They would burn the seeds and inhale the smoke. The Syncthians use of cannabis should not be surprising as a significant strain of cannabis; Cannabis ruderalis grows naturally in the region where the Scythians stayed.
The question now is; where are the Scythians today? The descendants of the Scythians today are the Ossetes. It is a small nation in the central Caucasus, and these people are the last remaining linguistic and cultural descendants of the ancient nomadic Scythians over a thousand years ago.

Cannabis and the American Culture

The rate at which the cannabis industry is growing in the States is rapid. Since its legalization, the production, processing, and sale of cannabis have been increasing by the day, and it seems it is just getting started. The use of cannabis in the American culture is majorly recreational and medicinal. Still, the use of cannabis eats into other sectors of the country, such as the economic and political sectors.
Patients greatly welcomed the legalization of cannabis in the medical sector. It was used as a pain reliever to treat nausea in cancer patients. Most cancer patients in the United States use cannabis for pain relief, thanks to its legalization.
Cannabis is used culturally in the United States primarily for recreation. It is common in social places such as clubs and parties. The fight for the legalization of cannabis in the United States is, however, still ongoing as only 39 out of 50 states have legalized its recreational use.

Man in blue shirt smoking joint

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Cannabis and the African culture

Cannabis went into the African culture as far back as 10,000 years ago and is still much more prevalent today. It is mainly used in Africa for recreational purposes as many cannabis consumers smoke it. Gradually, it penetrated different cultures of the continent. In his study of cannabis, CS Duvall mentioned that cannabis does not belong to a particular country or culture. It is a global plant. However, Africa’s unique contribution to today’s cannabis community is arguably the most popular and timeless association with the smoking plant.

The recreational use of cannabis in most African countries is still prohibited, but this does not stop most people from smoking it as the law binding its prohibition is not as strong.

Different countries in Africa, such as Lesotho, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Malawi, have made a move toward the legalization of the recreational use of cannabis in Africa. However, many more countries are still against it.

Cannabis and the Canadian culture

The use of cannabis in Canada was not prevalent until the sixties when its popularity began to increase. Then, its use started to grow among the youth, educated, and people of higher status. After much advocacy, cannabis became legalized in Canada in all provinces and territories for people above 18, including its recreational use. This makes Canada the second country to legalize the use of cannabis after Uruguay. Currently, the cultivation, possession, acquisition, and consumption of cannabis are fully legal in Canada.


While many countries have legalized the medicinal use of cannabis in the world today, many countries are yet to legalize it. Here is a list of 5 countries that have legalized the recreational use of cannabis, where you can smoke your joint without getting into trouble.


Uruguay was the first country in the world to legalize the use of cannabis in the whole of the country as far back as 2013. In Uruguay, pharmacies sell cannabis; all you have to do is to register with a regulator. The age limit for the consumption of cannabis in Uruguay is 18.

Woman smoking joint outside happily.

Uruguay was the first country in the world to legalize the use of cannabis in the whole of the country as far back as 2013. In Uruguay, pharmacies sell cannabis; all you have to do is to register with a regulator. The age limit for the consumption of cannabis in Uruguay is 18.


The age limit of cannabis consumption in Canada is also 18, and recreational use has been legalized throughout the country. You can light up a joint in Canada without getting arrested, but you must get it from registered retailers.

South Africa

This is one of the few African countries that has legalized the recreational use of cannabis all over the country. In 2018, the constitutional court in South Africa ruled that an adult’s private cultivation, possession, and use of cannabis is no longer a criminal offense. The age limit for the use of cannabis in South Africa. However, the use of cannabis in the country is highly regulated as it is only allowed to be consumed in private. One can only have a limited quantity in possession which is 600g per individual in their personal space, and maximize of 100g in a public place. Consuming cannabis in public space remains a criminal offense.


While selling and commercializing cannabis is still illegal in Spain, it has been decriminalized for personal cultivation and use. An individual can choose to grow cannabis for personal purposes. Smoking cannabis in public spaces is still illegal in Spain.


Cannabis was decriminalized in Belize in late 2017. People are allowed to carry up to 10 grams around without legal penalties. You can now smoke cannabis in private spaces in Belize. Smoking cannabis in public places in Belize is banned.

There are many more countries in the world today where the legalization of cannabis consumption is still in progress. By 2025, many more countries would have obtained the legalization of both medicinal and recreational use.


Cannabis is still prevalent in different cultures today with its increasing legalization in other parts of the world. With the growing consumption of it comes the establishment of retail shops selling cannabis products, which leads to more employment. According to statistics, the number of people working in the cannabis sector as of 2022 in the United States is more than the number of paramedics and dentists in the country. This improves the economic sector as it reduces the country’s unemployment rate.
While the medicinal use of cannabis is dominant, especially in the treatment of cancer and depression, a large number of countries in the world today have legalized cannabis for recreational and cultural purposes, and many others will join in a few years

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