9 mind-altering facts you probably didn’t know about pot for 4/20

This year, the stoner’s holiest of holy days, 4/20, falls on Easter, and while everyone else is busy chasing giant bunnies and filling up on candy, you’ll be, well, busy chasing giant bunnies and filling up on candy. But in between, you might want to take a moment to remember – at least before your short term memory deserts you – the reason for the season: weed. And while you regale your friends with tales of pot brownies rising from the pan in fulfillment of the scriptures, you can also dazzle them with these, nine facts about pot that you probably didn’t know.

9. It is Native to Central and Southern Asia

Contrary to popular belief, marijuana’s native habitat isn’t your roommate’s closet surrounded by grow lights. It’s actually a plant native to Central and Southern Asia, which probably explains why empires from Alexander’s to the Mongols to the Soviets have tried to conquer that part of the world. Weed prices have been starting wars for centuries. But really, in between their fields of marijuana and endless supply of opium, it’s no wonder that Afghanistan is such a relaxed, peaceful place. Wait…

8. People Have Been Smoking It For Eons

There is evidence that people have been smoking weed since at least the 3rd millennium BC. In other words, as soon as people started settling down and dealing with the stresses and boredom of everyday life in the village they started lighting up. The earliest evidence of pot smoking comes from charred seeds found in an ancient burial site in Romania, and there is evidence of weed smoking found in the tombs of ancient Egyptian pharaohs. This probably also explains the rise of quality glassware, which perhaps not coincidentally developed in, you guessed it, ancient South and Central Asia in the 3rd millennium BC. Necessity, after all, is the mother of invention.

7. Where Did the Name ‘Marijuana’ Come From?

Although people have been smoking weed since pretty much the time they first wandered out of caves, the word “marijuana” is relatively new. It probably comes from “mariguan,” described by U.S. Army Captain John Gregory Bourke as a local name for Cannabis indica – Indian Hemp – in 1894 during his time along the Rio Grande. He claimed the Mexicans used it for everything from treating asthma to keeping away witches, which is one way to describe turning off the ladies with too much weed-smoking, I suppose. He went on to say that the “mariguan” was also called “loco weed,” and the rest, as they say, is history.

6. Shakespeare Smoked Weed

In 2001, Francis Thackery, a South African scientist, dug up Shakespeare’s garden because, hey, why not, and discovered pipe fragments with marijuana residue in them. This all but confirmed what people had long suspected, which was that Shakespeare was a pothead. After all, Shakespeare made reference to a “noted weed” in his work and talked about “a journey in the head,” which sounds like stoner talk to me. This also explains his obsession with synching up the lyrics of Dark Side of the Moon with Hamlet.

5. It Wasn’t Always Illegal

No, in fact, it was mostly legal for almost all of human history. It wasn’t until 1907 that the first ordinances against weed were passed in the United States, and even then those laws were confined to Washington D.C. But in 1937, marijuana was outright banned, largely because of a combination of hysterical handwringing by the same church ladies behind prohibition and powerful interests in a segment of the farming lobby, who wanted to cripple their rival hemp farmers by making their crop illegal. Still, if current events tell us anything, it’s that this prohibition is likely to be relatively short lived – at least in terms of broader history – and will end up being a blip on the weed timeline, which is totally a flat circle, dudes, and… wait, what were we talking about?

4. A Lot of People Smoke It

Despite it being illegal, 42% of Americans have admitted to smoking it at some point. And that’s just the percentage of people who admitted it. That probably doesn’t count your mom who got wild at the Kiss concert back in the day and lies about it now. What I’m saying is that the majority of Americans have probably smoked weed. In fact, it’s estimated that 22.5 million people worldwide smoke weed daily, and 162 million smoke at least once a year. Again, those numbers are actually probably very conservative. Our last three presidents have admitted it, and it’s reached a point that nobody even cares. It’s America’s open secret, and while the same old church ladies who were behind the alcohol prohibition will continue to quote Reefer Madness until they collapse onto their fainting couches, Americans will just do what they’ve always done – do it anyway.

3. The Most Potent Strain is…

I know this is what you’re really here for. According to the esteemed Original Sensible Seed Company, the most potent strain of marijuana is Tutankhamun, with a THC level of as high as 33%. For the sake of perspective, as of 2006, it was estimated that the average strain contained a THC level of 8.77%. Basically, in purely scientific and technical terms, Tutankhamun will fuck you up. That’s still nothing compared to its cousin, cannabis oil, which can contain THC levels of up to 60%. Who says America doesn’t appreciate science anymore?

2. It’s Almost Impossible to Overdose

To be honest, for all practical purposes, it’s not almost impossible, it is impossible. Numbers and estimates vary, but you would have to smoke anywhere from 800 joints in one sitting to 1,500 pounds in 15 minutes to truly overdose. Yeah, yeah, your cousin’s roommate’s brother got so high one time he almost died. No, he was just really, really stoned and he freaked out, so shut up. It’s pretty much medically impossible to fatally OD on weed. In fact, it’s probably easier to overdose on water – something just north of 15 liters a day – than it is to OD on weed. Expect emergency water prohibitions any time now.

1. It’s Big Business

Nobody knows for sure how much money is made on weed every year, thanks to its largely underground nature, but the numbers thrown around are staggering – around $30 billion on the low end to over $100 billion by more liberal estimates. Basically, it’s the biggest cash crop in America. One study even claimed that at $35.8 billion dollars per year (and again, that is on the conservative end of the estimate scale) marijuana generates more money than the next two biggest crops – corn and wheat – combined. We’re talking monster numbers here. Following its recent legalization, there were some shops in Colorado reporting sales of more than $1 million in a single day. That’s, uh, that’s a lot of tax revenue. In fact, it’s estimated that legalizing marijuana nationally could generate nearly $10 billion of tax revenue, while simultaneously slashing almost the same amount from the law enforcement budget. Put it together and that would pay for the entire budget of NASA. But, you know, it’s bad because, uh, reasons.

Man holding marijuana image by Shutterstock
Marijuana image by Shutterstock
Man smoking weed image by Shutterstock
Marijuana money image by Shutterstock