Russia has a history with marijuana that dates back to 600 BCE, when the Scythians, a nomadic Indo-European group first introduced hemp to southeast Russia. Like many other ancient cultures, Russia used the plant for its hemp fibers, “Hemp is cultivated throughout the greater part of Russia, and it is one of the principal crops in the provinces of Orel, Kursk, Samara, Smolensk, Tula, Voronezh, and Poland.” The hemp became an important crop in Russia, so by the end of the 19th century, cannabis was a main source of revenue for some.
In addition to its strong fibers, Russia was also using cannabis for medical purposes when immigrants moved from Asia to the Russian republics to find the “exotic” cannabis. In the 1970s, most Russians still considered smoking as something alien and strange that only the Russian “bohemia” smoked. Smoking cannabis became even more common among young people after the Soviet Union fell, but it’s still very unlikely Russia will legalize marijuana, according to the Russian Health Ministry’s top drug specialist Yevgeny Bryun.