Emerson wrote that a long time ago. Back when you could be original, before all the cool things were said and written. Nowadays it’s a lot harder to come up with more such diamonds of speech, or pearls of wisdom, even rubies of reasoning, or sapphires of sophistication. Opals of … opprobrium. Whoops. I got carried away with all the color and sophistry. Let’s look at some weeds and see how they have either come into their own over time or lost their popularity.
Cannabis sativa comes to mind instantly. It has a long history and a dynamic present. Likely has a rocket’s trajectory for a future as well. According to my five second Google search, cannabis has been cultivated since 8,000 B.C., first for rope and later for its seeds and oil as food products. Around 2,000 B.C. it was used medicinally in ancient China. It was used recreationally and ritually in a wide swath of the Middle East, including Persia and Scythia, while still being used for paper and rope. Perhaps this is where Muhammad Ali came up with his “rope a dope” boxing strategy, sparring with half baked pugilistic partners.
In the early A.D. years it was used as an intoxicant and an anesthetic. Even the famous Greek physician Galen prescribed medical marijuana. The Smithsonian has one of his original pharmacy scripts in storage since the ancient Greek scribbling is not as popular as it once was. Its derivative hashish was known as an inebriant and an aphrodisiac in Egypt. As travel increased, cannabis moved to Europe and Africa. And laws regulating its consumption began to appear. Hemp was legally cultivated all over the southeast United States in the 1800’s. What?
1850-1915 Marijuana was widely used throughout United States as a medicinal drug and could easily be purchased in pharmacies and general stores. And then? The war on drugs began in 1915. By the 1930’s and 40’s fliers like the one below warned of the poisonous effects of marihuana…. in which lurks Murder! Insanity! Death!
Let’s thee here. How about the thistle? Before you blaspheme this next guest, bite your lisping tongue.
Though many species of thistle are annoying weeds, the genus Cynara includes commercially important species of artichoke and some species regarded as major weeds are commercial sources of vegetable rennet used in commercial cheese making. Similarly, some species of Silybum that occur as weeds, also are cultivated for seeds that yield vegetable oil and pharmaceutical compounds such as Silibinin.
Other thistles that nominally are weeds are important honey plants, both as bee fodder in general, and as sources of luxury monofloral honey products.
Though it is unlikely that thistles return hair to bald heads, as was once believed, it is used for legitimate medical purposes to this day. I thay this thuper thintherely.
Now, in conclusion I’d like to point your attention to a so-called flower that has been cultivated forever but wreaks havoc on mankind. The source of opium, which is the source of morphine, heroin, and oxy’s, Papaver somniferum. Yep, the opium poppy. I am calling this pretty thing out as a weed that grows in one’s mind, body and soul. Surely its vices have been discovered, isolated, and distilled.
Papaver somniferum – Wikipedia
- In the United States cultivation of poppies for food is illegal. However, this is not typically enforced for poppies grown or sold for food or ornamental purposes. In addition, “Opium poppy and poppy straw” are also prohibited. As the opium poppy is legal for culinary or esthetic reasons, poppies were once grown as a cash crop by farmers in California. The law of poppy cultivation in the United States is somewhat ambiguous.The reason for the ambiguity is because the Opium Poppy Control Act of 1942 (now repealed) stated that any opium poppy should be declared illegal, even if the farmers were issued a state permit. § 3 of the Opium Poppy Control Act stated:
It shall be unlawful for any person who is not the holder of a license authorizing him to produce the opium poppy, duly issued to him by the Secretary of the Treasury in accordance with the provisions of this Act, to produce the opium poppy, or to permit the production of the opium poppy in or upon any place owned, occupied, used, or controlled by him.
This led to the Poppy Rebellion, and to the Narcotics Bureau arresting anyone planting opium poppies and forcing the destruction of poppy fields of anyone who defied the prohibition of poppy cultivation. Though the press of those days favored the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, the state of California supported the farmers who grew opium poppies for their seeds for uses in foods such as poppyseed muffins. Today, this area of law has remained vague and remains somewhat controversial in the United States. The Opium Poppy Control Act of 1942 was repealed on 27 October 1970.
The defense rests with a full head of hair, an illegal smile, and a glass of dandelion wine. No dope.