Tobacco began growing 8,000 years ago in America, and it took 5,000 years for people to realize that the leaves could be chewed and smoked. In the year 1493, fellow Christopher Columbus explorer Rodrigo de Jerez was the first European in history to try smoking, in Cuba. When he got home he lit up in public and was promptly imprisoned for three years by the Spanish Inquisition.
Things are coming full circle as many cities and countries now ban smoking in all enclosed public places. But those governments have nothing on Michael Feodorovich, the first Romanov Csar who in the 17th century called tobacco use a deadly sin and prohibited its possession for any reason. Transgressors received a slitting of the lips or sometimes even a fatal flogging. Deadly indeed! Today a person dies from smoking-related diseases once every 8 seconds.
Cannabis has been grown as a source of fiber and medicine for at least 5,000 years but until 1,500 years ago its use was restricted mainly to India. Today marijuana use in the US is estimated at $12 billion a year. And so much marijuana is secretly grown in the US that the DEA gave up trying to estimate the size of the domestic crop.
Smoking marijuana is risky business. Possession penalties range from probation to jail time, fines, drivers license suspension, and community service. Most fines are between $100 and $5,000 but in Arizona it could cost you up to $150,000. But the real risk is in the smoking of marijuana, which a recent study said is as much as five times more harmful to the lungs than cigarettes.
These depressing numbers could drive one to drink!