A repeated warning about cannabis use in the post-hippie era is to be aware that what you’re smoking or ingesting isn’t your grandparents’ cannabis. Humans have worked hard in recent decades to produce strains with powerful doses of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive component of the plant. The result is a surprisingly intense high that famously sent New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd into a spiral of paranoia after she ingested a cannabis-laced chocolate edible one fateful evening in Colorado.
A superstrong strain of pot might overpower unwitting baby boomers, but all of this might just be a case of déjà vu. Today’s herb could be somewhat like cannabis that people cultivated about 2,500 years ago in Central Asia, a plant also bearing high levels of THC. Research published June 12 in Science Advances offers the first evidence that humans around that time not only used cannabis for the high