For thousands of years, humans have lit up around the world, enjoying the high that comes from cannabis.
But the controversial politics surrounding the drug has made it difficult for scientists to figure out its genetic origins. Where did cannabis come from and how did it evolve into the potent green that brings us pleasure?
Scientists finally have an answer to that question — and the evolution of modern-day cannabis and how it diverged from its very close relative hemp is even wilder than you might think.
New research published Friday in the journal Science Advances used genetics to trace the ancient birthplace of Cannabis sativa, from which we harvest pot today.
The cultivation of marijuana has much longer roots than we previously understood, according to the study — including evidence that our cultivation of pot may have led to the extinction of pure, wild, ancient strains of cannabis.
Cannabis “is one of the first cultivated crop species,” Luca Fumagalli, a co-author on the study from the University of Lausanne’s Laboratory for Conservation Biology, tells Inverse.