One of the most significant events for the Western use of cannabis appears to stem from the Crusader era. We are excited to explain why this is the case.

Many crusaders came from the far western and northern parts of Europe. These include the modern countries of the UK, Ireland, France, Belgium, and Germany, among others. Sadly, there is not much documented use of cannabis in Western European nations before the Crusades.

Now, we must ask how they came into contact with cannabis. Before they could ever reach the Holy Land, they would have had to travel through Byzantium, which is modern-day Istanbul. This area has had a long history with cannabis, from the Scythian tribes to the ancient Persians. Adding to the evidence of this is a group of Germanic Vikings who migrated east and made the goddess Freyja their goddess of cannabis. Cannabis is also mentioned in the 6th-century Byzantine medical text Vienna Dioscurides.

As they approached Jerusalem and were in the heart of the Holy Land, they would have most likely met actual doctors. At this time, the physicians of the Islamic world were becoming increasingly interested in cannabis and shared some with the Crusaders.Sadly, the interest in cannabis would die out in the Middle East as harsher drug laws were enforced, depending on who the ruler was. After this period, we see cannabis depicted in Catholic artwork and some writings. These are most prevalent in areas closer to Greece and the Middle East.