A week ago, we met five people who contributed a lot to our culture, and it's possible that they smoked pot during their groundbreaking achievements. Today, it's time for another five who promoted marijuana regardless of the opinions of others or the times they lived in.
6 Elizabeth I Tudor
Elizabeth I's father was Henry VIII which is a guy who rather didn't cut corners and always got what he wanted. When he couldn't get a divorce, he founded the Anglican Church, but that didn't stop him from beheading several of his wives (he had 6). Elizabeth I took the throne in 1558, at a time when murdering other rulers or members of the dynasty was the order of the day. It was generally quite tense and not very safe.
Elizabeth I may not have smoked herself, but she made sure that others did. In 1563 she decreed that landowners with more than 60 acres of land should plant hemp in addition to other crops. Anyone who evaded this regulation was liable to a £5 fine.
Rather than stigmatising and condemning cannabis cultivation, Elizabeth I used gentle legal measures to encourage more production. Today we know of laws that do just the opposite, and the monarch's brave decision should give modern rulers plenty to think about. If only today's leaders were half as open-minded as the 16th .
7 Christopher Columbus
Who does not know his achievements? This Italian explorer under the Spanish flag discovered the New World in 1492. Thanks to the information he acquired, the greatest powers of Europe became interested in America, and other countries began to develop their colonies in various corners of the world.
In 1492 it was on Columbus' ships that seeds of Cannabis sativa were found, making him responsible for bringing marijuana to America. This resolute voyager stocked up on seeds for fear that they would find nothing suitable for cultivation in the new lands, and marijuana grows extremely fast and is used to make many practical things. Or did Columbus and his crew smoke a few times during their great voyage to allay any fears of reaching beyond the edge of the world?
Columbus was not a "first-timer" in America, the Indians, who had their own specific herbs, were already doing very well there. However, even they became fascinated by cannabis after some time and America became the cradle of this substance. It must have been stressful to go to lands not yet on the map, and Columbus had to find a way to reassure his uncertain crew.
8. Hua Tuo
Hua Tuo was a respected Chinese scholar and physician who lived during the Han Dynasty. This is roughly around 200 AD. Hua's main accomplishment is that he was the first to use anesthesia during surgery.
The anesthesia that Hua invented was called mafeisan. Mafeisan was created by mixing powdered hemp with wine. This mixture was extremely safe - for those days, of course, when illness usually ended in death, and surgery was a slow death in immense pain. Unfortunately, there are no longer any scripts containing the exact recipe for Hua's mafeisan.
The exact dates of Hua's birth and death are unknown, but are estimated to be between 140-208. This means that nearly 2,000 years ago, Hua's patients were entitled to the procedure in comfort. Anesthesia allowed the Hua to perform surgeries that would have been impossible in other parts of the world for centuries - pain relief did not begin in Europe until the 19th century.
Shennong was a legendary Chinese emperor who lived about 5000 years ago. Shennong is credited with developing the economic methods of agriculture during his reign and allowing all his subjects to benefit from the achievements of medicine.
Some sources suggest that it was Shennong who ordered doctors to administer marijuana to their patients for medical purposes. It was taken in the form of a tea infusion and was said to help with inflammation, malaria and even constipation. The Emperor himself also used it when he had a headache.
Shennong is regarded by few scientists as a legendary figure, but the fact remains that someone in ancient China was the first person in the world to realise that hemp not only serves as a rope line but also affects our wellbeing. That such a discovery could have been made by the emperor himself elevates this information to an even higher level.
10 - William Brooke O'Shaughnessy
William O'Shaughnessy was an Irish physician who lived from 1808 to 1889 and moved to Calcutta in 1833 to work for the British East India Company. He spent almost 10 years there, and during that time he not only treated diseases but also conducted his own research.
Why was he on this list at all? Because while working in India, O'Shaughnessy learned about hemp. The plant intrigued him so much that he tried in every way to make it attractive in Europe and to force his professional colleagues to study it in detail. While he was in England O'Shaugnessy, despite much reluctance from the scientific world, used cannabis successfully to treat muscle spasm, vomiting and diarrhea. It was only these successes that encouraged other doctors to turn to marijuana.
William O'Shaughnessy brought marijuana to the consciousness of doctors, and thus to modern Western medicine. In America, starting in 1840, marijuana could be obtained almost anywhere due to its inclusion in many patent medicines. Without William's persistence, who knows how long it would have taken Western Europe to comprehend the many positive benefits of marijuana?