The History of Hemp
Becca Wolford, Contributing Writer
Yes, it’s that time of the year – when we celebrate the history of the wonderful plant we know as hemp.
This is the third annual Hemp History Week, and this week is dedicated to education, awareness, health and wellness, and the movement to let our farmers grow hemp again – which would benefit (of course) the farmers, our economy, our health, and our environment.
So, to kick off Hemp History Week, here is a 10,000 year timeline that showcases the history of hemp!
8000 B.C. – Hemp textiles are crafted in Asia and Europe.
3700 or 2700 B.C. – It is said that the first medical text, Pen Ts’ao, was written – which showcased the medicinal properties of hemp.
1500 B.C. – Scythians were harvesters of hemp. Scythia was located in Eurasia; it is said that the Scythians were the people who invented the scythe.
500 B.C. – During his 6-year travels and path to enlightenment, Buddha survived by eating hempseed.
450 B.C. – Herodotus records that the Scythians are making fine linens from hemp (at this time it is believed that he was writing about the Scythians living near Persia).
300 B.C. – Carthage and Rome fight for commercial and political power over the spice and hemp trade routes in the Mediterranean.
100 B.C. – China makes hemp paper.
100 A.D. – Pliny the Younger, a Roman official and historian and writes a manual about the uses of hemp and how to grow and harvest hemp.
600 A.D. – Hemp fiber is popular and used widely by Germans, Franks, and the Vikings.
700 A.D. – Muslims adopted the Chinese process of making hemp paper.
850 A.D. – Africa saw its first paper mill built in Egypt.
(from this point onward, until around the 1800s, it was common to make paper from hemp).
1492 A.D. – Hemp sails, ropes, and caulking are used on the ships Columbus used to sail to America.
1545 A.D. – Hemp agriculture makes its way to Chile and other parts of South America.
1564 A.D. – King Philip of Spain follows the lead of Queen Elizabeth, and orders Cannabis to be grown throughout his empire, from modern-day Argentina to Oregon. Here is a bit of interesting history: The Spanish Empire included the West Coast of the United States, including Oregon, Washington, and parts of British Columbia, Canada, and down to South America.
16th and 17th centuries – Cannabis is a widespread commerce for the Dutch.
1619 A.D. – Virginia makes hemp cultivation mandatory.
1630 A.D. – Hemp used as currency throughout the American colonies.
1776 A.D. – The Declaration of Independence was drafted on hemp paper.
1791 A.D. – George Washington encourages domestic hemp industries; Thomas Jefferson urges farmers to replace tobacco with hemp, calling hemp a ‘necessity’.
1800′s – Australia survives 2 famines by eating hempseeds and hemp leaves.
1850′s – Petrochemicals are processed and toxic processes are used to manufacture wood pulp and paper.
1930′s and 1940′s – New machines are constructed to process hemp hurds and fiber, for use in textiles, paper, and fuel. Henry Ford built a hemp car, powered with hemp fuel, grown with hemp on his own farm. Popular Mechanics magazine (1938) touted hemp as the new ‘Billion Dollar Crop’. Unfortunately, it did not happen. Hemp was a threat to those who had investments in timber, oil, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals. There was rampant propaganda against hemp; hemp farming was subsequently outlawed (illegal to farm hemp without the proper permits from the DEA.)
1943 – Hemp For Victory – the government allows hemp farming to aid in the war effort and creates a film showing the uses of hemp. After the war, hemp was banned again.
1998 – The Canadian government legalizes commercial farming of industrial hemp. U.S. imports hempseed and hempseed oil (mainly from Canada and China).
2004 – Ninth Circuit Court decision in Hemp Industries Association vs. DEA permanently protects sales of hemp foods and body care products in the U.S.
2005 – A bill is introduced in the U.S. Congress for the first time to allow states to regulate hemp farming, but to date no committee hearing or floor vote has taken place.
2007 – The first hemp licenses in over 50 years are granted to two North Dakota farmers.
2010 – HIA uncovers diaries and photographs of the USDA’s Chief Botanist Lyster Dewey, who grew 5 varieties of hemp on the current site of the Pentagon. Rep. Ron Paul makes Congressional statement in support of Hemp History Week.
As you can see, hemp has had a rich history on our planet for 10,000 years. No other plant has had such a beneficial, commercial, economical, environmental, and, of course, political impact…than hemp.
About the Author
Becca Wolford is a writer, entrepreneur, artist, reiki practitioner, and hemp activist. She has experienced first-hand the nutritional and healing benefits of hemp and her passion is learning, writing, and educating others about the benefits of hemp – benefits that encompass nutritional health for humans, a healthy environment, and a healthier economy.
Becca also distributes Versativa, an amazing raw, clean, hemp-based nutritional supplement and Restoration90, a raw, clean, nutritional product with marine phytoplankton, hemp, and essential nutrients for optimum health. Please support her at her excellent blog Hemphealer.com.
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