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Cannabis culture is expanding and countries are cultivating this popular plant


Where in the World Is Cannabis Grown?

While historians still don’t fully know how humans and the cannabis plant came together to form cannabis culture, they do know that it happened a long time ago, and the dynamic partnership is still going strong to this day.

Growing cannabis has become a fine science due to advanced human engineering greatly improving the capacity of this notable plant. Today’s scientists and medical experts are excited about the potential benefits and treatments being discovered thanks to loosened restrictions on the study of cannabis and its constituents.

man holding dirt and plant in hands

Growing Cannabis Begins in Central Asia

Experts agree that the original cannabis plants were grown around the Himalayas in Central Asia. But they soon began to be found in greater quantities in the refuse dumps of hunter-gatherer tribes and bands scattered throughout the surrounding regions.

As the very first great civilizations began to form around the major rivers of the world, it was the Chinese who first recorded the cultivation of cannabis in 2727 BCE. However, there is evidence that growing cannabis was happening all across Asia for many millennia before this time.

Early trade routes and encounters between civilizations ensured that the small brown cannabis seeds made their way to the Indian subcontinent, where cannabis took a place of honor in Ayurvedic medicine around 500 BCE. Cannabis has been cultivated in both China and India ever since, despite recent bans on the plant. China banned the drug in 1985 and India in 1970. 1

From India, cannabis cultivation spread westward to Persia and the Middle East. By the Middle Ages, many European nations were growing cannabis and played roles in bringing this important cash crop to the Americas during the early colonization days. By the 1900s, cannabis was growing prolifically on every continent on the planet except Antarctica. 2

hemp growing in a greenhouse

Countries Growing Cannabis Today

Cannabis culture followed humans from Central Asia across the world but naturally took a special hold in some places due to environmental or cultural favorability. Highlighted below are some of the countries that produce the greatest amounts of cannabis today, according to the United Nations Market Analysis on Plant-Based Drugs. 3


Cannabis culture is strong in Colombia where hemp and marijuana have been cultivated since the days of the Spanish colonization. Residents of South America's leading cannabis-producing country say that despite the regulations, cannabis is enjoyed recreationally about as commonly as a beer or coffee would be.


Mexico features one of the most ideal climates for producing cannabis and just recently decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Mexico has been ranked the largest exporter of cannabis in North America, though it is not necessarily the largest producer.

Cannabis is widely used in Mexico despite current legal restrictions, and most police officers would prefer accepting a nominal bribe to booking a recreational user for possession––but, sometimes the issues can be more serious. 4


According to experts, cannabis cultivation all began here in the valleys and hillsides of the Hindu Kush. Cannabis cultivation has continued uninterrupted in Afghanistan since 2000 BCE and possibly long before this. The 1970s, saw an unprecedented boom in marijuana production, exportation, and the subsequent bans and restrictions that were enforced with dubious success for the next few decades.


Growing cannabis is the primary source of income for this West African country and one of the most prolific producers of cannabis for Africa and Europe. Even though cannabis is technically illegal, kif and hashish production has been part of Moroccan culture for so long that most locals have developed a blind eye. Nevertheless, Morocco is one place where travelers are not advised to engage in recreational use of kif, hashish, or marijuana as the consequences for them can be severe as 10 years in jail. 5

United States

The United States has quickly gone from a world leader in the war on drugs to the single largest producer of cannabis in the world. Despite the fact that cannabis is still being restricted by the federal government, the ban has not stopped the industry from becoming more profitable with each passing year.

2017 saw the cannabis industry in the U.S. top-off at $9 billion, and it’s expected to climb to a total of $21 billion in national cannabis sales in 2021. 6

hemp plants in pots

Final Thoughts

Cannabis culture is taking a larger foothold in society and its benefits extend from recreational use to general health benefits. Because growing cannabis is still restricted in many areas of the globe, marijuana is the most popular illegal drug on the planet. 7

However, times are changing and as the scientific and medical communities begin to uncover more facts about this plant, more countries are beginning to loosen their restrictions and lift cannabis bans. Iceland, Spain, Colombia, Peru, and Canada may soon join the Netherlands and Uruguay in revisiting the laws in place over cannabis use and growth. 8

Photo credits: Parilov/, CannaObscura/, Victoria43/, CascadeCreatives/

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