History of Hemp
As one of the earliest domesticated crops, hemp has been used throughout the ages as a source of food, textiles, and herbal medicine. While ancient Chinese Emperor Shen Nung is credited for teaching his people to cultivate hemp for cloth in the 28th century BC, archaeologists found remnants of hemp cloth in Mesopotamia (now Iran and Iraq) that dated back to 8,000 BC. It is commonly believed that hemp arrived in Europe in 1200 BC and quickly spread throughout the ancient civilizations.
History of Hemp in the USA
It was the Puritans who first brought hemp seeds to Colonial America. Hemp was used to create the sails, ropes, and caulk used on British sailing vessels. Due to the high demand for hemp, British colonies were required to grow hemp crops to create products intended for British consumption.
Early American Presidents Washington and Jefferson were both known to have grown hemp on their land. In Colonial America, hemp was still a required crop, and at least three.
The 2018 Farm Bill removed Hemp from the Controlled Substances list, officially legalizing its cultivation and extraction on a federal level for the first time since 1970.
Colonies used hemp as a form of legal tender. Anyone who did not grow hemp on their land was fined.
Hemp was so widely used in the U.S., some historians believe competing industries that considered hemp a threat to their livelihood (paper, pesticides, and oil) began a campaign to directly associate industrial hemp with its cannabis cousin, marijuana.
When did hemp become a restricted crop?
When the Marijuana Tax Act was signed to law in 1937 to minimize marijuana use, the government also imposed heavy licensing restrictions and hefty taxes on hemp farmers, raising the cost of cultivating industrial hemp. The resulting financial burdens made hemp farming significantly less profitable. At this time hemp and marijuana were still recognized as individual plants with significantly different properties.
That changed with the Controlled Substance Act of 1970, which specified cannabis, rather than marijuana, as a Schedule I drug. With the reclassification, hemp could no longer be grown in the U.S. without a permit from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Since that time, industries relying on industrial hemp were forced to use imported hemp.
When did hemp become legal to cultivate in the USA?
While hemp has been grown in a significant number of states for research and pilot programs since the implementation of the 2014 Farm Bill, it was the signing of the 2018 Farm Bill that legalized the cultivation of hemp crops in all 50 states.
As the production of domestic hemp increases, product manufacturers will no longer have to rely on imported crops, potentially providing substantial economic benefit for our country.
Hemp is still used in many industries. Today, we better understand what our ancestors discovered long ago. We know why hemp fibers are strong, we recognize the specific nutrients in hemp seeds, and we have identified the elements that give hemp oil the potential to influence our health.