International Cannabis Pioneers

Cannabis has been consumed by some of humanity’s best and brightest throughout history.

Cannabis use has been stigmatized in the United States since the late 1930s. It has been listed as a Schedule I drug (making it, in the government’s eyes, legally on par with heroin and methamphetamines) since the 70s. Because of this, many may not know the stories of some of the world’s most celebrated cannabis pioneers.

There are prominent figures in cannabis culture throughout all of human history – and now that restrictions are beginning to lift and more people have access to CBD and other cannabis products, we believe it’s past time to shine a light on those who came before us. Here are some stories of the most important, knowledgeable, celebrated, wildest, well-known, mythological, and weirdest cannabis figures in international history. We know there’s no way to cover every important person who used cannabis – if you know of someone we missed, send us an email and we’ll look into adding them to this list. Plus, check out part one of this series, where we covered American cannabis pioneers!

Emperor Shennong

If you’ve read all of the Fairwinds CBD blogs, this name may look familiar to you. Emperor Shennong (the Divine Farmer) is one of the most prominent figures in the history of medicinal cannabis use – and he may not have even really existed. In ancient Chinese history, there are Three Sovereigns: three legendary, mythological emperors who ruled for generations and influenced Chinese medicine/culture heavily. Emperor Shennong is said to be the founder of Traditional Chinese Medicine, the man who discovered tea, and one of the first to recognize the value of the hemp/cannabis plant. Whether this man actually lived or is simply representative of a shift in culture during that time is unknown. However, it’s undeniable that the influence of this mythological emperor lives on; the oldest surviving Chinese pharmacopeia is called the Shennong Ben Cao Jing (translated, Divine Farmer’s Materia Medica.) The Shennong Ben Cao Jing mentions 365 medicinal herbs and their healing properties – one of which is cannabis.

Hua Tuo

Another name you may recognize if you’ve read our previous blogs, Hua Tuo was a Chinese surgeon during the early Common Era. Practicing in the late second century, Hua Tuo is celebrated in Chinese culture as being the first known physician to use a form of anesthesia during surgery. His original formula is thought to have been a mixture of cannabis leaves and wine; in fact, the word for anesthesia in Mandarin (mazui) still contains the root word for hemp – ma!


A celebrated God of Hinduism and a crucially important component of Indian culture and history, Shiva is known for many things – not the least of which is His affinity for Bhang. This is a traditional drink in India, made from crushed cannabis leaves and flowers mixed with a liquid, usually milk, butter, or tea. According to Hindu legend, Shiva once wandered off into a field to calm down after an argument with His family. He took a nap under a flowering plant, and, upon waking up, decided to try the flowers. After doing so, He experienced rejuvenation instantly and began to share His experience with others. He is frequently depicted alongside the cannabis plant, or drinking/preparing a mixture of Bhang.

Pharaoh Ramesses II

Cannabis was used for medicinal purposes throughout many ancient Egyptian dynasties; one of our most notable mentions of cannabis in ancient history comes to us from an Egyptian document called the Ebers Papyrus. Cannabis pollen and flowers were found with the mummy of Ramesses II, which many view as evidence of the Pharaoh being partial to the plant, likely for religious/ceremonial reasons. Cannabis was frequently used as both a medicinal and spiritual tool throughout several generations of ancient Egypt. 

William Shakespeare

Whether or not the world’s most famous playwright actually smoked cannabis himself or not remains unknown, but what we do know is that four pipes from the 17th century were unearthed on his Stratford-upon-Avon property and were recently tested and found to contain traces of THC. There’s no way to confirm if Shakespeare himself smoked, if someone smoked cannabis out of a pipe at his property, or if someone nearby saw a convenient place to bury a pipe they were no longer using – but the simple presence of this paraphernalia around his home seems to have been enough to catapult The Bard into cannabis stardom.

Dr. William O’Shaughnessy

An Irish physician, Dr. O’Shaughnessy made a massive impact on medicinal cannabis use in America and the United Kingdom, from the mid-1800s up through cannabis prohibition in the US in 1937. During the 1820s, O’Shaughnessy was sent to Calcutta with the British East India Company; as a member of the Medical and Physical Society of Calcutta, he published a paper discussing some of the potential medical uses of cannabis. Most notably, O’Shaughnessy became celebrated for calming a child’s epileptic seizures by administering a cannabis tincture! After leaving Calcutta in 1841, O’Shaughnessy continued his research and writings on the efficacy of medical cannabis; this is when cannabis really began to enter the “public domain” and its use became fairly prevalent in Western societies. O’Shaughnessy is thought to be the man responsible for first bringing cannabis into the spotlight here in the United States; additionally, the etymology of the word “indica” is thanks to him! Named for the cannabis brought over from India, “indica” is Latin for “of India.”

Sir J Russell Reynolds

Sir Reynolds may not be a name many are familiar with, but we bet most have heard of who he worked for: Reynolds was one of the Royal Court physicians for Queen Victoria. Rumors abound regarding the Queen’s use of cannabis tinctures to treat her menstrual cramps* (and later, menopause symptoms); however, these stories have proven essentially impossible to corroborate. While there may be no way to confirm if the Queen herself medicated with cannabis, there is plenty of confirmation that Sir Reynolds was aware of its intrinsic value; in 1890, he wrote that “When pure and administered carefully, it [cannabis] is one of the most valuable medicines we possess”. So even though we might not be able to confirm that one of the most well-known regents in modern history used cannabis, it’s promising to know that its medical use was wide-spread and accepted throughout England during her reign.

Dr. Raphael Mechoulam

One of the most unbelievably important figureheads in the evolution of cannabis history, science, and culture – and one of the only ones still alive today – is Dr. Mechoulam. An Israeli scientist and Holocaust survivor, Dr. Mechoulam was the first to identify the ECS (Endocannabinoid System), the first to identify the structure of CBD (cannabidiol), the first to isolate Δ9-THC (Delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol), the first to identify Anandamide, one of the body’s two endocannabinoids… the list of his priceless contributions to the understanding of cannabis goes on long enough that he deserves his own movie – and he’s got one. If you’re interested in learning more about this amazing pioneer, you can find an extremely informative documentary about his life and work, The Scientist, on YouTube!

Sultan Abdulaziz I

The 32nd emperor of the Ottoman Empire, Sultan Abdulaziz I was the first to visit many Western countries, including the US. During the Centennial Exhibition of 1876 in Philadelphia (the first official World’s Fair to take place in the US), Sultan Abdulaziz is said to have brought plenty of cannabis paraphernalia and gifts with him in order to share the culture of his homeland. Alongside demonstrations of how to best use a hookah, cannabis smoke was shared amongst Americans who had never experienced it before. The exhibition was so popular that, after this World’s Fair, Turkish-style smoking lounges began to open all across the northeast US. Supposedly, there were over 500 lounges in New York at one point!

The Club des Hashishins

 In mid-19th century France, authors and writers were partial to joining clubs and coalitions together. These provided a place to discuss ideas, share stories, and get together with other creative minds. One of these clubs was a bit different than the norm, open only to the open-minded: Club des Hashishins held monthly gatherings in an old Parisian hotel; here they would drink strong Arabic coffee “liberally mixed” with hashish. While there are records of other drugs being experimented with at these meetings, the main thing consumed was cannabis. Notable members of this group included Alexandre Dumas (author of, most notably, The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo), Charles Baudelaire, Victor Hugo (the writer of Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame), and Honore de Balzac.

An inconclusive list

This collection of notable cannabis pioneers throughout history is definitively not comprehensive. Since the plant continues to face such a stigma (as it has for decades, making the negative associations deeply ingrained in society,) there is no way to know how many important historical figures tried cannabis or consumed it regularly. Our hope is that seeing a list, brief though it may be, of intelligent, celebrated individuals who smoked weed helps do its part to end the stigma we continue to fight against in the legal cannabis/hemp industry.

american cannabis pioneers

American Cannabis Pioneers

Cannabis has been consumed by some of humanity’s best and brightest throughout history.

Since cannabis use has been stigmatized in the United States since the late 1930s, and has been listed as a Schedule I drug (making it, in the government’s eyes, legally on par with heroin and methamphetamines) since the 70s, many may not know the stories of some of our nation’s celebrated cannabis pioneers.

There are prominent figures in cannabis culture throughout all of human history – and now that restrictions are beginning to lift and more people have access to CBD and other cannabis products, we believe it’s past time to shine a light on those who came before us. Here are some stories of the most important, the most knowledgeable, the most celebrated, the wildest, the well-known, the mythological, and the weirdest cannabis figures in American history. We know there’s no way to cover every important person who used cannabis – if you know of someone we missed, send us an email and we’ll look into adding them to this list. Plus, check out part two of this series, where we cover international figures!

President James Monroe

Almost all of the founding fathers of the United States grew hemp on their plantations in the late 1700s (it was actually frowned upon not to during America’s earlier days) but none of them are confirmed to actually have been consumers of cannabis themselves, be that for medicinal reasons or just for recreation. The same can’t be said for James Monroe, who is rumored to have first been introduced to the wonders of hashish when he was the US Ambassador to France – and said to have continued enjoying to smoke it up until his death. This statement is the closest we have to a real corroboration of any of the founding fathers smoking cannabis, and it’s likely the most concrete proof we’re going to get. And in our opinion, whether or not these early presidents smoked is less relevant than the fact that they saw the undeniable value of hemp as a crop.

Dr. William C Woodward

During the late 1920s and throughout the 30s, support for cannabis prohibition was taking off in the US. Through the efforts of men such as William Hearst and Henry Anslinger, and via propagandic measures such as the film Reefer Madness, cannabis was becoming successfully stigmatized as “harmful” after decades of effective use as a medicine throughout the nation. And in 1937, the first federal law against cannabis was passed despite the concerns of the AMA (American Medical Association) and Dr. William C Woodward in particular. In fact, Dr. Woodward delivered an impassioned speech to Congress in opposition of this law being passed. His full statement can be found linked above; however, to us, the standout phrase is this: “To say, however, as has been proposed here, that the use of the drug should be prevented by a prohibitive tax, loses sight of the fact that future investigation may show that there are substantial medical uses for cannabis.” His words were unheeded by the US government and stringent laws were in fact passed, but his wisdom has lived on in cannabis activists ever since. We hope that, were he alive today, Dr. Woodward would be pleased to see how far cannabis legalization has come.

Maya Angelou

Before the release of her incomparable autobiography I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings in 1966, Maya Angelou was first visited by what she referred to as her “cannabis muse” two decades earlier in 1946. When she was a waitress, Ms. Angelou first tried smoking cannabis with some customers. After smoking a joint, she wrote in her journal that “From a natural stiffness, I melted into a grinning tolerance… for the first time, life amused me” – just one more anecdotal example of the amazing capability cannabis has to help people cope with trauma. Maya Angelou remained a regular cannabis consumer throughout her incredible writing career, frequently citing cannabis as one of her biggest inspirations.

President John F Kennedy

Though there may not be much in the way of concrete evidence of the American founding fathers using cannabis, there is plenty of proof that presidents from a more recent era imbibed. President Kennedy’s admittance of using cannabis to help alleviate his chronic back pain* isn’t really shocking on its own, but what truly cements his place on this list is the fact that he was known to kick back with a joint every now and then – at the White House. It’s rumored that he once smoked three consecutive joints with a friend of his and then said, “Suppose the Russians did something now…” This is one of the most important steps towards normalization that we can think of! No one bats an eye if (and when) the leader of the free world drinks a glass of Scotch from an artistic glass decanter in the Oval Office – we truly feel it should be the same in regards to smoking a joint or taking a bong hit here and there.

Carl Sagan

The world’s most celebrated astronomer since Galileo and the man behind the original ‘Cosmos’ series, Carl Sagan should be on every list of important cannabis figures. In 1969, when he was 35 years old, Sagan wrote an anonymous letter under the name “Mr. X” in which he outlined not only why he personally appreciated the effects of cannabis, but why he felt its use should be encouraged, not prohibited. He wrote that when high on cannabis, he was able to experience far more insight into social issues, gain a better understanding of music and art, and more capably experience “an area of creative scholarship very different from the one I am generally known for.” The authorship of this powerful essay remained unknown until after Carl Sagan’s death; however, the message it carries rings true regardless of its writer.


This short list of notable people throughout American history who used cannabis is definitively not comprehensive. Since the plant continues to face such a stigma (as it has for decades at this point, making the negative associations deeply ingrained in society), there is no way to know how many important historical figures tried cannabis or consumed it regularly – but our hope is that seeing a list, brief though it may be, of intelligent, celebrated individuals who smoked weed helps do its part to end the stigma we continue to fight against in the legal cannabis and hemp industry.

Boosting Your Immune System With Natural Remedies

CBD and Your Immune System: Staying Healthy During the COVID-19 Pandemic

No matter where you go, what you’re reading, or who you’re talking to right now, there’s one subject that’s bound to come up: the global COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. And while these are undeniably nerve-wracking times that are frightening for all and life-threatening for some, it holds as true with this as with anything else: the only way out is to get through it together. At Fairwinds, we wanted to make it clear that we are not only taking steps within our own company and community to combat this virus, but that there’s a potentially invaluable opportunity here to boost your immune system and reduce stress through the use of CBD, thereby helping your body to fight off a COVID-19 infection.

CBD has been clinically proven to aid the human immune system through multiple mechanisms1. Its non-intoxicating effects add to its capability to help your body stay healthy while keeping a clear mind! Since the immunocompromised are among the most affected by this new pandemic, it’s our hope that sharing this awareness can help people find potential new ways to stay as well as possible.

How Can CBD Help?

When looking for a CBD oil to help assist with immune system or stress responses, there are a few tips to keep in mind. Be sure that the products you’re looking at are made using hemp grown with no pesticides; you can check for third-party testing to confirm this. It’s also helpful to look for products that are terpene-fortified, meaning they will have additional immune-boosting properties! Lastly, the inclusion of other herbal extracts and/or essential oils can also help to boost the effects of CBD. Herbs like ginger, coriander, and many others have been shown to help keep the immune system functioning at its best.

In addition to helping keep your immune system functioning at its best, it’s important to know about the impact that stress can have on our health and wellness. Our Release tincture is specifically formulated to help reduce stress and keep your mental health in just as good of shape as your physical wellbeing. Fairwinds always takes steps to include herbal extracts that boost the desired effect of a product, and it’s our promise to you that we’ll never cut corners or provide a product that isn’t up to our high standards.

If you want to learn more about how you can help to combat this pandemic with natural measures, feel free to contact us! Lastly, we’re happy to share we’re offering free shipping on all orders right now. We truly believe that through education, conversation, and the science of whole-body wellness, this COVID-19 outbreak can help to bring people together instead of pushing them apart.

Wishing you health and happiness, from the entire Fairwinds team.

Brief History of Cannabis as Medicine

A worldwide look at the history of medicinal cannabis

While cannabis cultivation and use have been a part of human culture for an estimated six thousand years, there is no way of knowing for certain when the plant was first mentioned as a medicine, or what was said of it. Decoding the fascinating history of medicinal cannabis is important when it comes to understanding the winding road cannabis has taken over the millennia.

Despite the fact that cannabis is one of the most useful plants known to humankind, the plant is still misunderstood by most, illegal to many, and downright demonized by some. To help normalize the plant, it’s important to pay attention to its history! We at Fairwinds have worked to compile a brief history of cannabis’ use as a medicine across different cultures/parts of the world, from ancient human history leading up to the modern era.


According to legend and oral histories, cannabis was being used medicinally in ancient China as early as 2737 BCE (Before Common Era). The mythological Emperor Shennong (translated as “Divine Husbandman” or “Divine Farmer” and also sometimes spelled as Shen Nung or Shen Neng) is considered by many to be the Father of Chinese Medicine. He is said to have administered medicines, poisons, and antidotes to himself in order to understand their effects before documenting them in what would become the Pen Ts’ao, one of China’s first pharmacopeias which detailed the effects of hundreds of drugs derived from plant, mineral, and animal sources.

It is believed that the Pen Ts’ao was the basis for the Shennong Ben Cao Jeng, or the Divine Farmer’s Materia Medica Classic, the oldest surviving Chinese pharmacopeia. While the Pen Ts’ao itself has been lost, much of the knowledge of herbal medicine contained therein has fortunately been preserved. We know, for example, that it mentioned cannabis (or “Ma”) and that it discussed the uniquely balanced Yin/Yang properties of the plant. It is thought that cannabis was used as a treatment for ailments such as gout, malaria, menstrual cramps, rheumatism, and many more during these ancient times. Thousands of years later, around 200 CE (Common Era), Chinese surgeon Hua T’o began using cannabis as part of his anesthetic for surgical operations. By preparing a mixture of cannabis and wine and/or opium, Hua T’o was able to perform operations with much less pain caused to the patient. Though the original recipe for the anesthetic has been lost, the Chinese word for anesthesia is “mazui” which translates to “cannabis intoxication”!


In addition to its use in ancient China, cannabis has been part of traditional Indian culture since around 2000 BCE as well. The first (surviving) written mention of cannabis is within the Indian Vedas, a series of sacred texts compiled over centuries which were – and still are – incredibly influential on the evolution of Indian culture and Ayurveda. The Vedas mention cannabis as one of five sacred plants responsible for bringing joy. According to the Vedas, cannabis was given to humans by benevolent gods to help us “attain delight and lose fear.”

Legend states that, after an argument with his family, the god Shiva wandered into a field and dozed underneath a cannabis plant. After waking, he was struck by the notion to sample the flowers of this plant – which left him rejuvenated immediately. It is said that he became known as the Lord of Bhang (bhang is a drink made from a paste of ground cannabis plants alongside milk or yogurt and spices). Even today – though cannabis flower is technically illegal in almost every Indian state – bhang is still commonly used for medical, recreational, and spiritual purposes alike throughout much of India.


Dioscorides, a Greek physician from the early Common Era, mentioned cannabis as a treatment for ear and toothaches in his pharmacopeia De Materia Medica – published between 50 and 70 CE. Additionally, cannabis was used commonly in the late BCE years by Roman women of high birth to alleviate childbirth pains. And around 200 CE, the Greek physician Claudius Galen is known to have commented in letters on the prevalence of cannabis use throughout the Roman Empire.


Another notable mention of cannabis’ medicinal value during ancient history comes to us from Egypt. The Ebers Papyrus was compiled around 1550 BCE, although it is now believed that much of the information was copied from other manuscripts created several centuries, and in some cases even millennia, before. The Ebers Papyrus is one of the oldest (and generally considered to be one of the most important) surviving ancient medicinal texts, and it mentions cannabis as an effective treatment for inflammation.

Used for treating pain as well as managing symptoms of depression, cannabis as medicine was also common among the Assyrian people around 900 BCE. Nearly two thousand years later, around 1000 CE, Persian physician Avicenna published his Canon of Medicine, which mentions cannabis as a useful treatment for relieving symptoms of severe headaches, gout, and more. Around the same time (approximately 1000-1400 CE), cannabis was used throughout what is now Iraq as an effective treatment for epilepsy.


While cannabis is thought to have been brought to the Americas as early as 1500 (during the Spanish conquest), it is not thought to have been used medicinally there until several years later. Elsewhere, in Europe, Napoleon is said to be responsible for bringing cannabis to France from Africa in the late 1700s, where he had it studied for its potential pain-relieving and sedative qualities. Cannabis was then used throughout France and other parts of western Europe for years as a treatment for coughs and jaundice, as well as for assisting with tumor reduction.

The last notable mention of medical cannabis (leading up to the modern era) is from Irish physician William O’Shaughnessy. His paper, “On the Preparations of Indian Hemp, or Gunjuh” spoke to many of the potential medical benefits of cannabis and concluded that there were little to no negative effects. His writings were influential to the rise of cannabis’ popularity as a medicine in the US and Europe in the early-to-mid 1800s.

Since a plethora (to be fair, likely a majority) of the concrete, definitive history of medical cannabis use has been lost to us over the years, whether through persecution and propaganda or simply due to the passage of time, there is no way for anyone to say that the subject has been covered completely. Researchers and historians are still turning up new relevant information all the time – stay tuned for expansions to come on this series!

Brief History of Herbal Medicine

Herbal medicine is regaining popularity worldwide

Throughout human history, the way we care for ourselves has continually evolved and shifted. In ancient times, herbal remedies weren’t an option for the treatment of different ailments and illnesses, they were the option. And while many more wellness and medicine options are available in the modern era, herbal medicine has by no means fallen by the wayside. In fact, in many areas, it’s more popular than ever! For example, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practices have been used for millennia; even after the advent of modern medicine, approximately half of the population of China still prefers to use traditional remedies. There are around 5000 traditional remedies commonly available in China, accounting for around twenty percent of the nation’s pharmaceutical industry. In the same vein, Ayurvedic medicine – the traditional healing practice of India – is experiencing a similar resurgence of popularity as people begin to seek more natural methods of healing once more.

The average American consumer’s use of herbal remedies has experienced massive growth since the 1990s, and the market only continues to expand. Due to myriad influences, including things like the pricing of pharmaceuticals, lack of access to affordable healthcare, and a desire to refrain from over-consuming lab-produced chemical compounds, more and more Americans are choosing to turn to herbal medicine. It is not uncommon these days for people to use traditional, naturopathic remedies alongside modern medicine – or even completely in place of it, in certain circumstances. And at its core, much of modern medicine is based on traditional herbal wellness practices; while medicine has undoubtedly evolved over time, the foundational building blocks of our modern understanding are rooted in ancient wisdom. A great example of this is an ingredient like salicylic acid. Used commonly in both over-the-counter and prescription acne treatments, this compound is derived from Willow Bark – a natural skincare remedy!

Cannabis is among thousands of known and commonly-used herbal remedies in Chinese and Indian culture for millennia, and it is now receiving global attention for its seemingly innumerable potential benefits*. One of the things we feel is most important to spread awareness of is that cannabis, like many other things traditionally used in these natural remedies, is ultimately just an herb like any other! Powerful, effective, and coming to be celebrated by many, cannabis also continues to carry with it a stigma and a history of negative, propagandistic associations that we now work to overcome. Yet, at its heart, this plant is no different from any others used in the formulation of traditional remedies. One of the ultimate goals of Fairwinds is to see cannabis use completely normalized – we truly believe that this plant should be able to be treated, consumed, and regulated like any other medicine or supplement.

Our hope is that through providing transparency and education, we help do our part to shift the general understanding of what cannabis is, its history, and what it can offer.

These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. They are not intended to treat, cure, diagnose, or prevent any illness.