This article was originally published on Weedmaps and appears here with permission.
Cannabis activism may seem like a contemporary issue but, in fact, it has a long and intriguing history. From an ancient Egyptian pharaoh to an illustrious American social scientist, these five women were cannabis activists ahead of their time.
Cannabis activism may seem like a contemporary issue but, in fact, it has a long and intriguing history.
Hatshepsut and cannabis in ancient Egypt
Hatshepsut lived in the 1400s BC and is notable as one of a select few female pharaohs in Egyptian history, according to a 2006 article published in The Smithsonian magazine. The pharaoh reportedly used hemp to manage painful menstrual symptoms.
But Hatshepsut may not have been the only woman of her era who turned to cannabis for pain relief. The Ebers Papyrus, an herbal medical text from ancient Egypt, cites the use of hemp for treating not only menstrual pain but also to ease discomfort during childbirth. The article stated that cannabis was mixed with honey and inserted into the vagina to alleviate menstrual pain.
Hildegard von Bingen and cannabis as herbal medicine
Perhaps the most unlikely cannabis activist on our list, Hildegard von Bingen was a German nun who lived during the Middle Ages. Later sainted in the Catholic Church, von Bingen had much to say about medicine in an era when women were expected to stay silent on academic subjects. Von Bingen had a particular interest in herbal medicine and wrote in her health guide Physica that hemp could be used for a variety of treatments, according to Ethan B. Russo's 2013 book, Cannabis and Cannabinoids: Pharmacology, Toxicology, and Therapeutic Potential. Russo cites von Bingen's recommendations of applying a healing hemp cloth to soothe wounds and eating hemp to reduce other types of pain, including headaches.
Von Bingen chronicled her remedies for a twelfth-century German audience, but modern scientific studies have indicated that …