‘Cannabis Roots: The Hidden History of Marijuana’ Conference Comes to Vancouver

When thinking of the history of marijuana, most people’s minds go back to the hippy era of the 60s and the pot smoking flower-children whose peace and love ideals have forever changed our culture. Some think of the 1930’s Reefer Madness era, where blacks and whites shared ‘marihuana cigarettes’ at tea houses while creating a new genre of music and breaking long-held racial barriers.

Few people realize that cannabis has played a role in human history for tens of thousands of years, or that it played a pivotal role in the formation of such ancient religions as Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, Taoism, Sikhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Shinto, Ancient Greek Mystery Schools, and other traditions.

The Cannabis Roots conference will explore some of this little-discussed area of cannabis history with some of the top experts in the world.

Cannabis Roots: The Hidden History of Marijuana was held from 11AM – 6PM on November 3, 2012 at CCHQ (307 W. Hastings – Second Floor) in Vancouver.

Speakers include Professor Carl Ruck, David Hillman Ph.D., Michael Aldrich Ph.D., authors Michael Horowitz, Cynthia Palmer, Ted Smith, Chris Bennett, and filmmaker Mark Klokeid.


Cynthia Palmer

Cynthia Palmer is a writer and photographer from San Francisco. In 1970 she was part of a small group of neuronauts who founded The Fitz Hugh Ludlow Memorial Library in North Beach. Over the next 30 years the library became the world’s largest collection of literature, research, art and artifacts of drug history. Archiving the art and literature of drugs and transformation is a dedicated obsession. Drug classics were reprinted in paperback from the collection, and with Michael Horowitz, she co-edited Moksha: Writings on Visionary Experience and Psychedelics by Aldous Huxley and Shaman Woman, Mainline Lady: Women’s Writings on the Drug Experience (Updated and renamed Sisters of the Extreme). 

Michael Horowitz

Michael Horowitz is a drug historian and writer.  He co-founded the Fitz Hugh Ludlow Memorial Library, the world’s first library devoted to psychoactive drugs, and currently operates Flashback Books, an online bookstore. He is co-author of The High Times Encyclopedia of Recreational Drugs and An Annotated Bibliography of Timothy Leary, and co-editor of Aldous Huxley’s Moksha: Writing on Psychedelics and Visionary Experience, and Sisters of the Extreme:  Women’s Writings on the Drug Experience. He was born and grew up in Brooklyn, NY, moved to San Francisco in 1967, and to Vancouver in 2006.

Dr. David C.A. Hillman

Dr. David C.A. Hillman earned a Ph.D. in Classics and M.S. in Bacteriology from the University of Wisconsin, where he studied the medicine and pharmacology of antiquity. The London Times described his research as “the last wild frontier of classical studies.” Dr. Hillman’s work, while firmly grounded in primary sources – the original documents of Church authorities and others – is highly controversial. It is research that many modern Church officials do not want known. His dissertation committee refused to pass him unless he removed material about the use of psychedelic drugs in antiquity; he later published the forbidden material in The Chemical Muse. The revelations in Original Sin are even more shocking, especially in light of the worldwide scandals involving pedophile Catholic priests and the higher Church authorities who have protected them and allowed child abuse to continue for years. As soon as the topic of Original Sin became known, Dr. Hillman’s livelihood was threatened and he was told he would be blacklisted in his field of teaching. He nevertheless decided to let the truth be known and completed Original Sin under a threat to his ability to support himself and his children. For more information about Dr. Hillman’s work, visit his webpage at Ronin Publishing.

Read a summary of Dr. David C.A. Hillman’s lecture at the Cannabis Roots conference.

Carl A.P. Ruck

Carl A.P. Ruck is Professor of Classics at Boston University, an authority on the ecstatic rituals of the god Dionysus. With the ethno-mycologist R. Gordon Wasson and the Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann, he identified the secret psychoactive ingredient in the visionary potion that was drunk by the initiates at the Eleusinian Mystery. In Persephone’s Quest: Entheogens and the Origins of Religion, he proclaimed the centrality of psychoactive sacraments at the very beginnings of religion, employing the neologism “entheogen” to free the topic from the pejorative connotations for words like drug or hallucinogen.

He has tracked the role of entheogens as visionary agents for mystical religious revelation from the earliest emergence of human consciousness as documented in rock paintings of the Paleolithic Period, through the religions of ancient Persia and Mesopotamia, the Egyptian pharaohs, early Judaism, the Greco-Roman cults of Dionysus-Bacchus, Early Christianity, the Roman cults of Isis and Mithras, heretical Christian sects and the pre-Christian cults of pagan Europe. His exposé of the hidden message encoded in such medieval and Renaissance masterpieces as the painted ceiling of the Hildesheim Michaeliskirche, the Grünewald Isenheim Altarpiece, the van Eyck Ghent Altarpiece, and Titian’s Bacchanal of the Andrians has demonstrated that an entheogenic Eucharist was reserved as a secret rite for the most elite of the ecclesiastical and political hierarchy, and practiced, moreover, as an alchemical sacrament in the most select of knightly brotherhoods and secret societies, such as the Knights Templar, the Order of the Golden Fleece, and Freemasonry. As theosophy, it was imported to the New World and embraced in such American religions as the Ephrata Cloister, the Shakers and Quakers, New England transcendentalism, the Mormonism of its founder Joseph Smith, and Scientology, all of which today strenuously condemn and deny the ecstatic nature of their earlier religious ceremonies.

He testified as an expert witness in 2010 at the Toronto trial in support of the Constitutional Challenge brought by the Church of the Universe against the prohibition denying them access to their cannabis Eucharist.

His work on the Eleusinian Mystery, as a well-ordered religious rite with positive social benefit, was also cited in defense of the right of the New Mexican branch of the Brazilian church União do Vegetal to have access to their psychoactive Eucharist (ayahuaca) under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA, US Congress, 1993), which was decided in their favor by the United States Supreme Court in 2006.

Read a summary of Professor Ruck’s lecture at the Cannabis Roots conference.

Chris Bennett

Chris Bennett has been studying the historical role of cannabis – particularly in the realms of religion, spirituality and magic – for over 20 years. He is one of our most passionate and committed advocates for reclaiming and honouring cannabis’ potential as a medicine and spiritual ally. Chris is also considered one of the leading scholars on the history of the spiritual use of cannabis. He is the author of three books: Green Gold the Tree of Life: Marijuana in Magic and Religion (1995); Sex, Drugs, Violence and the Bible (2000); and Cannabis and the Soma Solution (2010) as well as dozens of articles on this same theme for a variety of magazines and journals. Chris currently resides in Vancouver, where he owns and runs an ethnobotanical shop, The Urban Shaman.

Ted Smith

Ted Smith has been working with the International Hempology 101 Society to educate the public about cannabis and prohibition since 1995, when he moved to Victoria, B.C. In January 1996, he started the Cannabis Buyers’ Club of Canada, supplying herb, edibles, and topical products to people suffering from permanent physical disabilities. As well as hosting annual conventions at post-secondary schools, Ted teaches a free, non-credit lecture series at the University of Victoria. He is also the publisher of Cannabis Digest, a free newspaper focused on medical cannabis, hemp, and activism. His book, Hempology 101: The History and Uses of Cannabis Sativa is one of the most comprehensive books on the subject, covering everything from ancient historical uses to recent changes in Canadian law.

Dr. Michael R. Aldrich

Michael R. Aldrich, Ph.D., is the author of the first doctoral dissertation on cannabis in the United States, Marijuana Myths and Folklore (1970); editor of the first pot ’zine, The Marijuana Review, 1968-1973; co-founder of Amorphia, The Cannabis Cooperative (1969-1973); organizer of California Marijuana Initiative (1972); curator of Fitz Hugh Ludlow Memorial Library (1974-2002) and the Aldrich Archives (1974-present); program coordinator, Institute for Community Health Outreach (California statewide AIDS outreach worker training program); executive director of CHAMP medical marijuana community center, San Francisco (2001-2002); and co-founder of the San Francisco Patient and Resource Center (SPARC), (2010-present). He and his wife Michelle have worked in the marijuana movement for more than 40 years together.

Read a summary of Dr. Michael R. Aldrich’s lecture at the Cannabis Roots conference.

For tickets and information about Cannabis Roots: The Hidden History of Marijuana contact the Urban Shaman: 307 W Hastings, Vancouver – 604-662-5355 – [email protected].



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  284. Anonymous on

    So what 2Pac’s last name is a muslim name…

    and he learned about islam through peers and while in prison

  285. Anonymous on

    So what 2Pac’s last name is a muslim name…

    and he learned about islam through peers and while in prison

  286. Anonymous on

    This legalization shit is the illuminati.
    This government is the illuminati.
    Everything is based on or controled by maggick.
    Well the law system, the banks, the police.
    Thats how it goes in noth america.
    Howcome american government don’t get introuble for slavery.
    And get charged for innocent people dieing everyday.

    Everyone hide under something kind of bull-shit.

    Or lock people up? But no death sentence for child rapist, or murderers?

    A couple hundred years ago, if someone killed someone you knew.
    You went after that person and sought revenge…

  287. Anonymous on

    This legalization shit is the illuminati.
    This government is the illuminati.
    Everything is based on or controled by maggick.
    Well the law system, the banks, the police.
    Thats how it goes in noth america.
    Howcome american government don’t get introuble for slavery.
    And get charged for innocent people dieing everyday.

    Everyone hide under something kind of bull-shit.

    Or lock people up? But no death sentence for child rapist, or murderers?

    A couple hundred years ago, if someone killed someone you knew.
    You went after that person and sought revenge…

  288. Anonymous on

    2Pac – “If you know in this hotel room they have food every day and I knock on the door. Every day they open tha door to let me see tha party, let me see that they throwin’ salami, throwin’ food around telling me there’s no food. Every day. I’m standing outside tryin to sing my way in- “We are weak, please let us in. We’re week, please let us in.” After about a week tha song is gonna change to, “We’re hungry, we need some food.” After two, three weeks it’s like “Give me some of tha food! I’m breakin down tha door.” After a year it’s like, “I’m pickin’ the lock, comin’ through the door blastin.” It’s like, “I’m hungry.”
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