A Brief History of Hemp

Longer Than Hemp Grows High!

Italian Hemp HarvestHemp history shows it has been cultivated for industrial purposes by many civilizations for over 12,000 years.

The Hemp History of China

Hemp history shows hemp to be one of the earliest crop plants of China. They used the hemp plant for many different purposes like food, yarn, clothing, and paper.

In discovered records, hemp is named as one of the “five grains” of ancient China which included barley, rice, wheat, and soybeans. It was a staple of the Chinese diet through the 10th century.

European Hemp History

Cannabis in one form or another has been found in many parts of Europe from the earliest periods of history.

Hemp ropes were found in a well from a Roman fort in Dunbartonshire, Britain, which was occupied between A.D. 140 and 180.

Hemp ropes have also been found in Iceland among artifacts that date back to the early Middle Ages, probably brought by Vikings, for whom strong rope often meant the difference between survival or disaster in the vast uncharted Atlantic.

Cannabis appeared in Western Europe around the beginning of the Middle Ages. But it was the Italians who began the first large-scale cultivation of the plant and eventually turned hemp into the fashions of the day.

The Hemp History of America

Fast-forward to the early days of the United States and you will find that hemp was instrumental in our lives from the beginning.

We would not even be here if not for the canvas (cannabis) sails and hemp rigging for the ships that brought us to these shores.

1862 Tubbs Cordage Company Ad

1862 Tubbs Cordage Company Ad

America’s first marijuana law was put into place in Jamestown Colony, Virginia in 1619. The law ordered all farmers to grow Indian Hempseed and a farmer could be jailed for not growing. The United States Census of 1850 counted 8,327 hemp plantations (minimum 2,000-acre farm) growing hemp.

George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both grew hemp on their plantations and Ben Franklin owned a hemp paper mill.

There is so much hemp history because since the beginning of recorded time man has been blessed by hemp’s bounty in every aspect of his existence.

In 1930 a new department of the Treasury was established – The Federal Bureau of Narcotics – and Harry J. Anslinger, an extremely ambitious man, was named director.

Anslinger drew upon themes of racism and violence to draw attention to a “problem” that he, with the help of William Randolph Hearst, was about to create.

Hope Hemp Cat explains how hemp became illegal in this blog post. It’s unbelievable and very true.

Hemp was declared illegal, then legal for a little while and then illegal again until February 7, 2014, when President Barack Obama signed the Farm Bill of 2013 into law.

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