Cannabis migrated in the same way as humanity. Its adaptability allowed the plant to thrive in inhospitable locations and severe climates. But what do we know about cannabis? And what are the causes for its migration? We know the plant comes from Central Asia and, over more than 5,000 years, it has travelled all over the world for different purposes. Europeans benefited from cannabis cultivation and introduced Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica into American colonies to stimulate the economy. European settlers were right: the hemp industry was highly profitable indeed, and cultivation spread soon to the northern and central regions of the continent. Its benefits and applications flourished across local cultures. This is what happened countless times as immigration waves shook the world. Cannabis becomes a part of each community’s culture and then, as these are forced to flee abroad for their safety, the plant travels with them.
By the end of 2020, the number of forcibly displaced people rose to over 82 million worldwide, out of which 26 million are refugees. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the number of people who have fled their homes over the Ukraine conflict has now passed over 12 million. At least 7.1 million of these have been internally displaced. The end of this war is not in sight and the Ukrainian people continue to seek refuge in neighbouring countries.
Broadcasting from the Border
Because of the humanitarian crisis, media outlets have deployed their equipment at the Ukrainian border to broadcast the turmoil. On this note, during the last week of March, an Ukrainian refugee asked a journalist whether weed was legal in the United Kingdom during a live interview. Sky News was reporting near the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, while citizens were boarding on buses and getting ready to flee the country. Quickly after noticing the reporter was British, a refugee asked, “Is cannabis legal in Great Britain?” Smiling, the reporter answered, “I’m glad that’s all you’re thinking about.”
Although cannabis use, possession, and sale for either medical or recreational purposes are banned in this Eastern European country, Ukrainians have managed to hack the system, allowing them to develop a close connection with the plant since old times. The Scythians, weed-smoking, nomad warriors from ancient Ukraine, built thousands of burial mounds that are now at risk because of the war.