The fact that cannabis has been cultivated in China for millennia is nothing new. The earliest references to the use of hemp date back 10,000 years ago. Ornamental motifs were found in pottery vessels, attesting the use of the plant to decorate handmade pottery.
Cannabis remains were also found on tombs of kings of the Chou Dynasty (1122-249 B.C.), and history shows that the plant was described in ancestral medicinal treatises.
The buds of the plant were used to make ointments and teas with which were treated dozens of diseases.
But nowadays the situation of marijuana in the big Asian dragon is very different.
Except in the Xinjiang region, which is inhabited by ethnic Uyghurs (whose traditions are more tolerant to cannabis use), in the rest of China the mainstream idea is that all drugs are harmful substances, and that all are dangerous.
What are the reasons for this?
There are few historical factors to keep in mind.
In spite of the traditional history, China has always been a commercial power of enormous dimensions and has served as a “game board” for the former Dutch, Spanish, English and Portuguese colonial powers.
In fact during the nineteenth century the country faced two large commercial wars against the British Empire. They are known as Wars of Opium: The first took place between 1839 and 1842 and the second between 1856 and 1860.
The British wanted trade permits to be extended throughout China … and that demand included the liberalization of the opium trade.
The Chinese emperors were defeated in both wars, and that led to the establishment of the idea of the drug as “a colonial poison” in the Chinese mentality.
Nowadays, however, the latest statistical data show that there is a boom in cannabis use among young people. Although marijuana cultivation is severely punished by the Chinese authorities, it is common in rural areas to find self-cultivation supply networks on a very small scale, but they serve to supply the local population of necessary cannabis both for recreational use , and medicinal.
But the reality of cannabis in China is very different compared to the ideas of regulation and movements of decriminalization that have been happening for ten years around the world.
As in the heaviest times of the Mao Ze Dong Cultural Revolution, the authorities exercise control over the population to prevent drug trafficking. In fact in 2011 a woman of South African origin was sentenced to death for trafficking with 3 kilos of methamphetamine.
In the case of cannabis, however, the penalties of justice are not so severe, but they are very harsh when compared to European or American laws.
In the case of cannabis, the penalties for their consumption are not as severe as for drug trafficking, but technically they can carry the death penalty. In the year 2014 the son of popular actor Jackie Chan was arrested for marijuana use with a friend.