Origins of Cannabis: Plant Was First Domesticated 12,000 Years Ago

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The study into the origins of cannabis also determined that farmers began breeding distinct strains of cannabis for drug or fiber production only about 4,000 years ago. The research contradicts the commonly held belief that cannabis originated in Central Asia, perhaps in valleys of the Hindu Kush mountain range. Plants in the drug groups also showed several mutations that increase the production of THC, the primary psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis. Previous research into the origins of cannabis cultivation has been limited due to the difficulty in obtaining a wide range of samples from around the world. The study determined that there are four genetically distinct categories of cannabis including a primordial group, a hemp group, and two groups bred for drugs.

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Researchers investigating the first domestication of cannabis have determined that the plant was originally cultivated in what is now northwestern China, according to a recently released study published in the journal Science Advances. The team of researchers investigating the origins of cannabis analyzed the genomes of more than 100 cannabis plants from around the world to conduct the study.

“It confirms it is one of the oldest cultivated plants,” said Luca Fumagalli, a biologist working at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, who led the study. “We think it was a multipurpose plant. It was...

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