"We know from both the chemical analysis and genetics that it could produce THC (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid synthase, the main psychoactive chemical in the plant)," he explained, adding that no one could feel its effects today, due to decomposition over the millennia.
Russo served as a visiting professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Botany while conducting the study.
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Scientists originally thought the plant material in the grave was coriander, but microscopic botanical analysis of the bowl contents, along with genetic testing, revealed that it was cannabis.
"As with other grave goods, it was traditional to place items needed for the afterlife in the tomb with the departed," Russo said.
He and his international team analyzed the cannabis, which was excavated at the Yanghai Tombs near Turpan, China.
It was found lightly pounded in a wooden bowl in a leather basket near the head of a blue-eyed Caucasian man who died when he was about 45.
Stash for the afterlife: A photograph of a stash of cannabis found in the 2,700-year-old grave of a man in the Gobi Desert.
Scientists are unsure if the marijuana was grown for more spiritual or medical purposes, but it's evident that the man was buried with a lot of it.