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Deep Dive: Cannabis Origination & Domestication History

Updated: Oct 23, 2023

For Deep Dive subscribers: This Deep Dive serves as a review of a 2021 study that examined the origination and domestication of the cannabis botanical species. This article is a living document that is updated regularly based on the release of new research on this topic.


A July 2021 peer-reviewed research study entitled "Large-scale Whole-genome Resequencing Unravels the Domestication History of Cannabis Sativa" that was published in the journal Science Advances investigated the global domestication patterns of this controversial plant species, with a focus on its genetic evolution and possible ways to categorize the variability present in modern cannabis and hemp.

The study's authors noted that "despite its ancient use dating back thousands of years, the genomic [genetic] history of domestication of cannabis has been understudied compared to other important crop species" and that this was due to the legal status and restrictions placed on the plant.

"Few crops have been under the spotlight of controversy as much as cannabis," noted the research, which stated that marijuana was one of the first plants to be domesticated by humans. The study reported that cannabis features a "long and fluctuating history interwoven with the economic, social, and cultural development of human societies."

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