[While cannabis has been widely used for millennia, it is not always clear which cannabis was used where, and how psychoactive it might have been. Mere mention of it doesn’t mean it was necessarily used recreationally or as an entheogen (a way of finding God). Neither are the taxonomical divisions fixed. Today’s division into at least three “species” may not last long. If we are looking for evidence of its entheogenic use we can’t assume mere mention of cannabis means it was used that way, or even suited to that use.]

From Wikipedia on the history of cannabis:

Cannabis sativa appears naturally in many tropical and humid parts of the world. Its use as a mind-altering drug has been documented by archaeological finds in prehistoric societies in Euro-Asia and Africa.

The oldest written record of cannabis usage is the Greek historian Herodotus’s reference to the central Eurasian Scythians taking cannabis steam baths. His (c. 440 BCE) Histories records, “The Scythians, as I said, take some of this hemp-seed [presumably, flowers containing seeds], and, creeping under the felt coverings, throw it upon the red-hot stones; immediately it smokes, and gives out such a vapour as no Grecian vapour-bath can exceed; the Scyths, delighted, shout for joy.” Classical Greeks and Romans were using cannabis, while in the Middle East, use spread throughout the Islamic empire to North Africa. In 1545 cannabis spread to the western hemisphere where Spaniards imported it to Chile for its use as fiber. In North America cannabis, in the form of hemp, was grown for use in rope, clothing and paper.

Early classifications:


Relative size of varieties of Cannabis

The Cannabis genus was first classified using the “modern” system of taxonomic nomenclature by Carl Linnaeus in 1753, who devised the system still in use for the naming of species. He considered the genus to be monotypic, having just a single species that he named Cannabis sativa L. (L. stands for Linnaeus, and indicates the authority who first named the species). Linnaeus was familiar with European hemp, which was widely cultivated at the time. In 1785, noted evolutionary biologist Jean-Baptiste de Lamarck published a description of a second species of Cannabis, which he named Cannabis indica Lam. Lamarck based his description of the newly named species on plant specimens collected in India. He described C. indica as having poorer fiber quality than C. sativa, but greater utility as an inebriant. Additional Cannabis species were proposed in the 19th century, including strains from China and Vietnam (Indo-China) assigned the names Cannabis chinensis Delile, and Cannabis gigantea Delile ex Vilmorin. However, many taxonomists found these putative species difficult to distinguish. In the early 20th century, the single-species concept was still widely accepted, except in the Soviet Union where Cannabis continued to be the subject of active taxonomic study. The name Cannabis indica was listed in various Pharmacopoeias, and was widely used to designate Cannabis suitable for the manufacture of medicinal preparations….

Pasted from <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannabis#History_of_cannabis>