OK, so you already know that cannabis is the most popular illegal drug in the world, with 6.5 percent of British adults smoking it, you knew that Shakespeare smoked it (although possibly not that so did George Washington), you’ll know that it isn’t a gateway drug and regular readers will know all of its health benefits. Here are some lesser-known fun facts about cannabis:
- Cannabinoids are the chemicals found in cannabis. They are present in breast milk, encouraging babies to suckle by triggering hunger. Without them, babies would have no desire to feed, leading to malnourishment or even death.
- Cannabis consumes fourfold as much carbon dioxide as trees.
- During the Second World War, the US government experimented with cannabis as a truth serum. It made people relaxed, talkative and irresponsible. It was on occasion successful in getting people to talk, but was ultimately deemed to be insufficiently reliable.
- Cannabis absorbs radiation. Hemp is a form of cannabis that doesn’t make you stoned and is used to make such things as rope and clothing. In Ukraine in 1998, the Institute of Bast Crops planted hemp to remove contaminants from the soil around Chernobyl.
- It’s hardly a fun fact, but it’s possible to be allergic to cannabis. This is thought to be rare but might have gone unreported because the drug is illegal. The symptoms are mostly akin to bog-standard hay fever: coughing, itchy eyes, sneezing. Hives and restless legs syndrome can also result, with the latter interfering with sleep. More worrying is anaphylactic reactions, where the airways swell shut, which can be life-threatening.
- Don’t mix dope with Viagra. Cannabis inhibits the cytochrome P450 enzymes, which are found in the liver. This means Viagra isn’t broken down so easily. Adverse effects can result. From 2002, we have the tale of a 41-year-old man who had a heart attack after taking cannabis and Viagra the night before.
- Bhang is an Indian milkshake that contains cannabis. The effect lasts much longer than with a joint: sometimes, almost a day. A text dating to between 1200 and 1000BCE spoke of bhang as a treatment for anxiety. The best time to get hold of some is during the spring festival of Holi.
- The first product sold over the internet was a bag of weed. In 1971 or 1972, students at Stanford University used the Arpanet, an early form of the internet, to purchase weed from students of MIT. Now that is a fun fact.
- In the course of the temperance movement in the United States in the 1890s, cannabis was commonly suggested as a substitute for alcohol because it led to less domestic violence.
- In some ways, the brain reacts to chocolate in the same way as to cannabis.
- In Dubai in 2008, a British man received a four-year jail sentence after customs officers discovered 0.0001 ounces of cannabis in the dog end of a joint that was stuck to the sole of one of his shoes.
- In the US state of Colorado, there are thrice as many cannabis dispensaries as there are branches of Starbucks.
- The word “canvas” is derived from “cannabis” because it was once made from hemp fibre.
Were those not fun facts?