A Brief History of Hemp

Hemp is an incredible and versatile crop with hundreds of uses.

Hemp is sustainable, grows in most conditions, does not attract many pests – so requires very few pesticides, is non-toxic, grows much quicker and can yield much greater amounts of fiber than trees.  It also incredibly versatile and can be used to make:

  • rope
  • textiles 
  • paper
  • recyclable & biodegradable plastics
  • building materials – it can replace cement and wood, being much lighter and stronger
  • biodiesel fuel that is much cleaner for the environment and can replace fossil fuels and petroleum based products
  • natural medicines
  • canvas – ships sails were made of hemp, which was much stronger and more weather and water resistant than cotton. Actually the word canvas comes from the word for cannabis (hemp). 
  • food – hemp seeds are highly nutritious and can be eaten whole, ground into flour or pressed into oil
  • beauty products
  • non-toxic varnish, paints and inks
  • and so much more…

Hemp (Cannabis), has been used worldwide for thousands of years. Archeologists have found cloth made out of hemp in Mesopotamia, which dated back to 8,000 BC.               China began to use hemp fibers to make paper as early as 150BC, and there have been Buddhist texts found written on paper made of hemp from the 2nd century AD.

But hemp wasn’t just used for paper. Ancient texts refer to the medicinal properties of cannabis (hemp). The Ebers Papyrus, written around 155o in ancient Egypt, mentions prescriptions for cannabis to treat such ailments as inflammation, pain, and depression. 

Hemp continued to be an extremely versatile crop through the centuries, and in 1535 Henry VIII even passed a law forcing all landowners to plant hemp or be fined. 

Hemp was also grown throughout all of North America and in the 1600’s, hemp was such an important part of the economy that in certain states farmers were again  legally required to grow hemp or be fined. Hemp was so valuable in fact, that at that time you could even pay your taxes using hemp.

Did you know that the Declaration of Independence was drafted on hemp paper.

In 1937, hemp was on the verge of becoming the biggest crop in America. Popular Mechanics Magazine wrote an article in 1937 about hemp the “Billion Dollar Crop“. 

Around the same time however, lobbyists for big industries (such as DuPont) making new synthetic textiles, as well as big paper mill and newspaper companies, threatened by the competition of hemp for textiles, paper and fuel, pushed the government to heavily tax hemp and pass the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. 

Just a few years later in 1942, when the US could not import hemp due to World War II, the government suddenly began the “Hemp for Victory” campaign, urging farmers to grow thousands of acres of hemp once again. 

After the war ended the ban on hemp was reinstated.

In 1970 The Controlled Substances Act was signed by President Nixon. Industrial hemp (with less than 0.3% THC) was also included and was labeled a Schedule I Narcotic equal to heroin and LSD!

It wasn’t until the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015 that the possible commercial cultivation of industrial hemp was legally permitted in the United States.

The first pair of Levi’s were made of hemp canvas.

Hemp is certainly much more than just about marijuana, only one of hundreds of hemp varieties.  Hemp has been one of mankind’s oldest and possibly most important crops. It is sustainable, non-toxic, pesticide free, does not deplete the soil it is planted on, has hundreds of uses that are cleaner and much better for our planet than what is currently being used…so how come we are not taking advantage of this phenomenal crop?


https://dev.purduehemp.org/hemp-production/                                                                                     https://www.ancient-origins.net/history-ancient-traditions/versatile-plant-what-were-many-uses-cannabis-ancient-egypt-007733                                                                                 https://www.forbes.com/sites/ashoka/2013/05/29/industrial-hemp-a-win-win-for-the-economy-and-the-environment/#4ef5f994289b
 https://ministryofhemp.com/hemp/history/                                                                    http://www.mit.edu/~thistle/v13/2/history.html

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