Hemp (Cannabis Sativa L.) has a long, rich history that spans at least 10,000 years. While archeologists have found hemp fabrics dated at roughly 8,000 BCE, as centuries and millennia have passed, hemp has found uses in more than 25,000 different products. It has also been a subject of controversy and prohibition in recent centuries.
The following shares more on the storied history of hemp, as well as the sustainability of hemp in the modern age. For more information about hemp and Cannabidiol (CBD) products, contact the trusted experts at Canna Elixirs.
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Hemp History Facts & Timeline
The timeline below presents some major highlights in the history of hemp, starting with the earliest findings and uses of hemp. This is not intended to be comprehensive; it is only meant to showcase some of the major historical moments in the history of hemp:
- ~8,000 BCE to 0 BCE – Hemp is thought to be one of the first agriculture crops cultivated by humans. Artifacts and historical texts have indicated that, during this time, hemp was used by various ancient cultures across the world in cords, ropes, cloth, pottery, paper, textiles, medicines and oils for foods. During this period, hemp was also used for ritualistic and recreational purposes.
- 0 CE to ~1000 CE – Hemp is found to have pain relieving properties. It is increasingly used for medicinal purposes and intoxicant effects, and nomadic peoples continue bringing hemp to new cultures and regions.
- ~1000 CE to ~1500 CE – “Hempe” first appears in an English dictionary, and hemp is increasingly used by textile makers, paper mills and more. The first Guttenberg bible is printed on hemp paper. Smoking hashish becomes a popular practice in the Middle East, and hemp is brought to Africa. During this period, European explorers come across hemp, which ends up being demonized in Europe near the end of the 15th Century.
- ~1500 CE to ~1700 CE – Hemp is brought by slaves to Brazil, and it is planted between rows of sugar cane. Early doctors and researchers document hemp’s medicinal effects, including its ability to reduce inflammation, nausea and vomiting. Hemp is cultivated at various French and British colonies, including Plymouth. Settlers at Jamestown, Virginia cultivate hemp and use it make various textiles. During this time, hemp becomes widely used throughout the American colonies as legal tender, and it becomes a major item traded between Central and South Asia.
- ~1700 CE to ~1750 CE – Farmers in the American colonies are legally required to grow hemp. Hemp is officially classified as “Cannabis sativa.”
- ~1750 CE to ~1800 CE – George Washington cultivates hemp for recreational use and to make textiles while Thomas Jefferson secures the first patent for a “hemp break” (a device that separates the usable parts from the unusable parts of the hemp plant). In 1776, the Declaration of Independence is written on hemp paper. Many historians believe that the Revolutionary War would not have been successfully waged by colonists if not for the hemp crop. Hemp would continue to be a top cash crop in America for the next 150 years.
- ~1800 CE to ~1900 CE – Medicinal marijuana is widely used across the U.S. and can be readily purchased in general stores. Cannabis is included in the “U.S. Pharmacopoeia,” and researchers continue to publish findings about the medical benefits of hemp.
- 1906 – The Pure Food & Drug Act is passed in the U.S., regulating how products like hemp and alcohol are labeled.
- 1914 – The use of marijuana (along with other drugs) is prohibited in the U.S. by the passage of the Harrison Act.
- 1915 to 1927 – Utah enacts the first state law criminalizing the use of marijuana. This kicks off the prohibition of marijuana (for recreational use) in other states, including California, Texas, Louisiana and New York.
- 1937 – The Marijuana Tax Act is passed by Congress, creating a federal law that criminalizes marijuana use in the U.S. Experts from the American Medical Association objected to this new law, saying that further investigations were needed to better understand the potential medical uses for hemp.
- 1941 to 1957 – Cannabis is no longer officially recognized for medicinal uses and is removed from the U.S. Pharmacopoeia. The Boggs Act and the Narcotics Control Act are passed, enhancing penalties for marijuana use.
- 1970 to 1981 – Advocacy group NORRML (U.S. National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) is formed and begins to play a pivotal role in the decriminalization movement. Researchers publish evidence of cannabis’ ability to help those with glaucoma. President Carter asks Congress to pass laws that would decriminalize the possession of less than one ounce of marijuana.
- 1986 – President Reagan enacts the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, kicking off the “war on drugs” and enhancing penalties for the possession and distribution of marijuana.
- 1996 – California becomes the first state to legalize medical marijuana, paving the way for 14 more states to pass similar initiatives.
- 1997 to 2001 – President Clinton continues the “war on drugs,” leading the effort to detain and prosecute the users and purveyors of medical marijuana. The U.S. DEA works to criminalize the sale of hemp foods and hemp products.
- 2009 – President Obama works to end the “war on drugs” while federal prosecutors at the Justice Department announce that they will no longer be going after law-abiding medical marijuana users and purveyors.
- 2012 – Colorado and Washington legalize recreational marijuana via voter referendum.
- 2014 – Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia legalize recreational marijuana. Limited hemp farming in the U.S. is also legalized by President Obama.
- 2016 – Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada legalize recreational marijuana.
- 2018 – Vermont legalizes recreational marijuana.
Hemp in the Modern Age: Sustainability of Hemp
Hemp is a highly sustainable and environmentally friendly crop, earning it the nickname of “wonder crop” from some agricultural experts. Some of the factors that make hemp so sustainable and environmentally friendly include that:
- Hemp can be quickly grown in various climates and soil types – Additionally, hemp doesn’t require a post-harvest fallow period, meaning another crop can be immediately planted after hemp has been harvested
- Hemp is resilient and can improve the quality of soil and groundwater – Hemp’s natural resistance to many pests means that pesticides and herbicides are not essential for cultivation. Also, as hemp grows, it can remove carbon dioxide from the ground, helping eliminate some soil and groundwater toxins.
- Hemp is durable and versatile – Hemp can be used to make textiles, recyclable plastics and paper. Hemp can also be used to make nutrient-rich food additives, leading some to deem hemp seeds as a “superfood.”
- Hemp can be used to make biofuel – Hemp biodiesel is efficient and renewable, positioning it to be a viable alternative to fossil fuels.
Contact Canna Elixirs for the Best Hemp, CBD & THC Products
Canna Elixirs has been a trail blazer in the cannabis industry since 2008. We are proud to offer our clients potent, high-quality, innovative, safe and effective CBD and THC products. We are also proud to support cannabis education and legalization advocacy.
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