Does Cannabis Come from China?

Belief that “Cannabis comes from China” has rapidly taken root among pot aficionados and the wider public since a new PRC genomics study on the origin of Cannabis.

Plants and seeds are increasingly being coopted by ethnonationalist autocracies to confer legitimacy on their regimes through imagined links to the deep past.

On the face of it simply about the origin of Cannabis, the Ren genomics study is Party propaganda as much as science, as its piss-poor methodology and research betray. Heavily promoted, its overriding purpose was headlines. It got them, as the study was picked up and uncritically reported across the Internet and everywhere from Nature to CNN: “Cannabis comes from China, not Central Asia.”

Subtle massaging of popular consciousness such as this is very effective propaganda, gently shifting public perception and priming it for assimilation and ultimate acceptance of the Party’s desired view: the absolute centrality of China – the PRC – to the world.

Central Asia quietly vanishes into China. The Uyghurs quietly vanish into the concentration camps. Cannabis is once again hijacked to justify murderous racism, though in a far more subtle way that, for now at least, is largely escaping the conscious attention of progressive Westerners.

Incremental shifts in perception – barely noticed by the target, if at all – are pivotal to propaganda in the 21st Century. Without their even realizing, tokers across the West received a strong dose of Xi Jinping Thought.

The photograph shows detainees in a “reeducation camp” in Lop Nor, Xinjiang, April 2017

To get a handle on how our minds are being toyed with very subtly by totalitarian states, check out the deep insights of Peter Pomerantsev, who was born in the Soviet Union and worked for a decade in television in Putin’s Russia: