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history of hemp

A History of Hemp: One of the World’s First Cultivated Crops

For many years, hemp has been a popular topic of conversation. However, only recently have people looked into the past to understand how useful this plant has been.

When it comes to the history of cultivation, hemp has served as a versatile crop considered harmless to humans. For centuries, people used hemp in ways that helped the human population evolve into what it is today.

Hemp is a strong fiber that can be grown anywhere in the world. Cultivating hemp purified the soil, killed some types of weeds, and could grow without pesticides. In addition, many civilizations saw the plant as sacred.

Continue reading to learn more about hemp history facts.

The Ancient Cultivation of Hemp

Archeologist research has shown that hemp is one of the earliest plants cultivated. In the early history of hemp use, Asian cultures used hemp for various reasons to improve their daily lives.

Asian Cultivation

Archeologically, hemp use dates back to the Neolithic Age in China. In the Yangshao culture, pottery containing hemp fibers dates back to the 5th millennium BC.

Later use of hemp in China ranged from making clothes, shoes, ropes, and even paper.

In the Oki Islands near Japan, archeologists have found cannabis achenes from about 8000 BC.

In ancient Mesopotamia, people used hemp cord to help make their pottery.

The sacred Hindu text Atharvaveda listed hemp as “sacred grass” and one of the five sacred plants of India.

During ancient times, hemp use was not only used to make practical items and materials. For example, Herodotus, a classical Greek historian, reported that in Scythia, people would often inhale hemp smoke as ritual and for pleasurable recreation.

Ancient medical texts such as The Natural History and Pharmacopoeia noted the medicinal properties of hemp.

Hemp Uses during the Medieval Era

In the current era, the history of hemp use continued to change as it spread across the globe.

The use of hemp continued as hemp fibers were made into clothes, rope, and paper. In addition, as Europe and Asia became more interconnected, hemp made its way into European households.

European Uses

In Germany and Italy, hemp was used in cooking, something that Asian cultures did not really do. Hemp was filled in pies and tortes and was even boiled in soup.

Merovingian Queen Arnegunde, a 6th-century French queen, was wrapped in a hemp shroud as burial clothing.
Vikings also used hemp in various ways and brought the plant with them to Iceland in 850.

As time moved on, European hemp uses matched that of Asian hemp uses. Hemp was cultivated for its fibers and used for ships’ ropes, including Christopher Columbus’s ships.

In 1533, King Henry VIII of England demanded that all farmers grow help or face fines.

Cultivation and Use of Hemp in North and South America

During the Age of Exploration, hemp made its way to the North and South American colonies. Many colonists in the British American colonies cultivated hemp and believed that the plant had many resourceful uses.

Hemp in the Americas

In 1545, the Spaniards brought hemp to the Americas and began cultivating It in Chile. Spaniards made similar attempts at cultivation in Peru, Colombia, and Mexico, but hemp cultivation was only successful in Chile.

Samuel Champlain, a French colonist, reported that the Wampanoag people wore hemp clothing in Cape Cod in 1605.
In 1619, the first Virginia House of Burgesses passed an Act requiring all planters in Virginia to plant hemp on their plantations.

By the 1700s, other colonies followed the Virginia House of Burgesses and passed laws that required American farmers to grow hemp.

North America’s Hemp Use

The United States’ first president, George Washington, pushed for hemp to become a cash crop to make rope and fabric. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams also grew hemp.

Thomas Jefferson wrote drafts of the Declaration of Independence on hemp paper.

In 1800, the King of England offered free land and hemp seed to immigrants who moved to Canada and cultivated hemp.

In pre-Civil War Kentucky, hemp was a major economic production cared for by slaves. In Kentucky, breaking a hemp crop was dirty and laborious, and plantation owners could only use slaves to break down the crop.

Even Abraham Lincoln used hemp seed oil to fuel his household lamps.

The United States Hemp Laws

During the 20th century, the conversation of hemp made its way to United States government offices. As a result, the federal government passed the first laws taxing hemp and criminalizing recreational uses of cannabis.

The Hemp Industry in the 20th Century

The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 levied a tax on anyone who dealt commercially in cannabis, hemp, or marijuana. As a result, the Act destroyed the U.S. hemp industry.

During World War II, the United States Department of Agriculture lifted the tax on hemp cultivation. This happened because the government believed that hemp’s many uses would help push the United States to win the war.

Roger Adams, an American chemist, isolated CBD from cannabis in 1942.

In 1942, the United States produced a short film titled Hemp for Victory, promoting hemp as a necessary crop to win the war.

The last commercial hemp farms were planted in Wisconsin in 1957.

In the United States, the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act went into effect in 1970. This set a zero-tolerance for THC and made all cultivation of cannabis illegal.

In 1994, Executive Order 12919 identified hemp as a strategic national product that should be stockpiled.

The Hemp Industry in the 21st Century

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) launched a campaign in 2001 to make any sale of hemp products illegal.

These regulations forced the hemp industry to fight back, and in 2004 the US court of appeals blocked the DEA regulations.

In 2014, President Barack Obama signed the first Farm Bill. This bill defined industrial hemp as different from recreational cannabis. This permitted United States institutions to use hemp for research.

In 2018, President Donald Trump signed another Farm Bill. This Farm Bill federally legalized hemp production in the United States.

Hemp’s Helpful History

Throughout human history, hemp has played an important part in different civilizations all over the world. Hemp was used for making clothing, rope, shoes, food and was even used for recreational pleasure.

With hemp’s many resourceful uses, people worldwide are looking back to hemp and adding it to their daily lifestyle. Interested in more hemp and CBD uses? Check out our products.

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