A Brief Guide to the History of Hemp
Hemp is one of the most dynamic of all plants. From its application in clothing manufacturing to the extraction of hemp oil for natural health support, this multifunctional plant is popular globally, but where did it all start?
The First Plant Cultivation
Hemp dates back to 8000 BC, where its primary use was in pottery and the creation of hemp cloth. It was first incorporated in agriculture in Asia, then Africa, Europe, and South America. The plant was the first to be cultivated by humans and, owing to its versatility, facilitate intracontinental trade.
Asia’s Sacred Grass
Hemp proliferated in Asia around 200 BC, where it was blessed among spiritualists as a holy plant referred to as: “sacred grass.” Hemp was also formally identified in Egypt as a crafted cloth in Pharaoh Alchanaten’s tomb.
Around the year 1000, hemp was used as a paper to print Buddhist text. Hemp was then used for cord and rope across Europe and Asia.
Hemp Cultivation in North America
In the 1600s, hemp had made its way into North America, where it primarily used to make rope, paper, clothing, and as a source of food. The 1700s identified the importance of hemp as a valuable crop where farmers in North America were legally required to cultivate hemp as issued by the country’s founders. Hemp was also used in the paper that Thomas Jefferson used to write the draft Declaration of Independence.
The Term Marijuana is birthed in the 1900s
In the early 1900s, Mexicans were targeted for transporting hemp into the States. The term cannabis was replaced with marijuana in reference to deported Mexican populations.
A Change in the View of Hemp
The 1930s saw the initial US commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, Harry Anslinger, claim that cannabis was a “devil drug” causing manic behavior, with no evidence to back his claims. He initiated the Marijuana Tax Act in the early 1940s and failed to make a distinction between hemp and cannabis plants. It also saw resurgence in the cultivation of hemp among American farmers, owing to the Hemp for Farmers campaign.
A Downturn in the Cultivation of US-Based Hemp
The year 1952 saw he last harvest of the hemp plant for commercial purposes in Wisconsin.
The Hemp and Cannabis Debate
The failure to distinguish the commercial property of hemp from the intoxicating effects of cannabis and the Controlled Substances Act was passed in 1970. Hemp is categorized as a Schedule 1 drug.
The Nineties Transform Hemp Use
In 1998, the pressure of consumer demand for the ignition of the hemp industry saw the easing of restrictions across hemp-based products, including its cultivation and oil production.
2014 Advocates Hemp Cultivation
In 2014, the issue of the American Farm Bill passed by Congress permits institutions across agriculture and research to initiate pilot studies for the cultivation of hemp.
Legalization of Hemp
Hemp was legalized across 40 US states in 2018 owing to the easing of hemp-related restrictions by Congress.
The Position of Modern Day Hemp
In the 21st century, hemp is cultivated across thousands of acres by farmers in the US and across the world. Its medicinal, textile, and manufacturing qualities have contributed to its popularity. With regulations under constant transformation and with ongoing research into the hemp plant, the future of the versatile plant remains incredibly bright.
Photo by Robert Nelson