The origins of hemp were first discovered in 8,000 BCE in the Asian regions, which are now known as Taiwan and China. The most ancient remains found to date include hemp records that display that hemp oil and hemp seed was found in food items in China and hemp cords that were used to make pottery. When considering that agriculture began around 10,000 years back for humans, it is safe to say that hemp might have been among the first crops.
Moving Across The Continents
Through the ages, hemp spread from one civilization to the next. Evidence linked to hemp materials has been discovered in Europe, Africa, Asia, and finally in South America. Many religious documents that range from ancient Persian and Hinduism have also mentioned hemp as either the “King of Seeds” or “Sacred Grass”. Hemp was known as one of the key ingredients, throughout the generations, and it was used in common daily essentials like paper, ropes, shoes, and clothes.
Treasured By The Founding Fathers
Hemp was first introduced into North America in 1606. Since farmers started growing hemp in America it has been used in multiple products from rope and lamp fuels to paper. From the 1700s, there was even a legal requirement in place that hemp had to be grown as one of the staple crops. Most of the founding fathers advocated its benefits and uses and grew this crop. Thomas Jefferson more notably wrote a draft for the Declaration of Independence associated with hemp paper.
The Timeline Of Hemp Across The World
The Origins Of Hemp:
Archaeologists discovered traces and remnants of hemp in Asian regions (modern-day Taiwan and China). People used to use hemp for hemp-based natural medicines, food (the oil and the seeds), and pottery.
2,000 BCE to 800 BCE
The Science of Charms (Atharvaveda, sacred Hindu text) named hemp “Sacred Grass”, which was 1 out of the 5 sacred plants in India.
Hemp ropes were discovered in southern Russia.
Archaeologists discovered a jar containing hemp leaves and seed in Berlin, Germany. Hemp use carried on spreading across northern Europe
Hemp rope was discovered in Greece.
China started using hemp to produce paper. Hemp rope was discovered in Britain.
A French Queen was buried in clothing made from hemp.
The first of the hemp mills started appearing in the Middle East, and China.
Vikings start to use hemp were they spread it into Iceland.
Arabs adopted the technology to start producing hemp paper.
The king of England, Kind Henry VIII, started issuing fines to the farms that were not growing hemp.
Cannabis was first introduced in Brazil (South America).
The first permanent English settlement, known as Jamestown in the Americas started growing hemp to produce clothing, sails, and ropes.
The earliest laws require that the farmers in America in many colonies have to start growing hemp.
The early drafts are written by U.S. founders on the Declaration of Independence on “hemp paper”.
Hemp seed oil is used by Abraham Lincoln to fuel the lamps in his household.
The 20th Century And Beyond
The USDA publishes findings that show that hemp produced 4 times more paper per acre when compared to trees.
The MTA (Marijuana Tax Act) institutes a tax for all sales on cannabis and hemp, which heavily discourages producing hemp.
Popular Mechanics wrote an article on how hemp might be used in more than 25,000 different products.
Henry Ford builds a car body, as an experiment, made from hemp fiber, which turns out to be 10 times stronger when compared to steel.
USDA introduces the “Hemp for Victory” program, which results in over 150,000 acres dedicated to the production of hemp.
The last of the commercial fields for hemp is planted by farmers in the U.S. in Wisconsin.
The Controlled Substances Act classifies hemp as one of the illegal Schedule I drugs. Stringent regulations are imposed on cultivating industrial hemp along with marijuana.
The U.S. starts importing food-grade hemp oil and hemp seed.
The decision made by the Ninth Circuit Court for the court case between the DEA and Hemp Industries Association protects the sale of hemp body care and food products throughout the U.S. permanently.
The first license for hemp in more than 50 years are granted to 2 North Dakota farmers.
The Farm Bill is signed by President Obama that allows research institutions to begin spearheading hemp farming.
The Industrial Hemp Farming Act (H.R. 525 and the S. 134), is introduced in the Senate and House. This act becomes the first of many attempts to legalize hemp fully.
A farm in Colorado earns an Organic certification from the USDA for the hemp they produce.
After many attempts that fail to pass laws that are hemp-specific, an amendment is made to the Agricultural Improvement of 2018, also known as the “Farm Bill” U.S. President, Donald Trump signs in a bill that legalizes hemp on the 20th December 2018. The amendment removes hemp as a plant along with its derivatives and seeds from the Controlled Substances Act. This is a massive victory for the hemp sector.
Hemp And The 20th Century
The U.S. went from one of the strongest supporters of hemp and its uses to banning it completely in the 1970s.
The Marijuana Tax Act Discourages Production
Even though hemp played a significant role in the earliest parts of US history, the attitude towards this crop starts to change drastically in the early part of the 1900s. When the government in the US started to maximize its efforts against a fight against drugs which included marijuana, somehow hemp was grouped with cannabis.
The 1937 Marijuana Tax Act was the beginning of a significant decline associated with the hemp sector, as hemp sales started to become heavily taxed. There was controversy surrounding this bill with some arguing that the policy was mainly focused on lowering the hemp industry to assist the emerging nylon and plastic industries to start gaining a market share.
The US Discovers That Hemp Is Needed In WWII
The United States reverses its stance in the year 1942 when they discover the value of hemp in their war efforts. The Department of Agriculture starts to promote hemp heavily and also starts publishing numerous benefits that hemp can offer (for example, discoveries that hemp produces as much as 4 times more paper per acre when compared to trees). The peak associated with promoting hemp occurred when the government in the US released a documentary that was pro-hemp known as Hemp for Victory. This gave farmers encouragement all over the Southwest and the Midwest to start growing hemp in order to provide support to the war. This resulted in more than 400,000 acres of hemp that was planted during 1942 and 1945.
The Drug War Results In The Demise Of Hemp
Not long after the program, the government in the US returns to its previous stance against hemp where this industry starts to decline again. Other sources like nylon and plastic were promoted across many industries. This resulted in fewer farms cultivating hemp along with most of the hemp processors forced into bankruptcy.
The last of the commercial hemp plants in the United States in 1957, was established in Wisconsin. Hemp farming went onto being banned officially in 1970 when the Controlled Substance Act was introduced whereby hemp was also included in the act as a Schedule 1 Drug, which grouped the crop with street drugs such as LSD or heroine.
Hemp For Victory
Hemp farming was at its peak in the US during World War II when the government in the US encouraged growing hemp through its “Hemp for Victory” program that encouraged the farmers in the Southeast and Midwest to plant and grow hemp in order to support WWII.
Hemp Of Today And What Is Expected For The Future
Our government and people have started to realize the potential of hemp and how it can make positive impacts on the environment, our economy, and health.
The Comeback Of Hemp
After close to three decades were hemp was forbidden, in 2004, the U.S. started allowing companies to import dietary products that contain hemp. In the latest century, hemp applications started to spread as small businesses and artisans imported hemp fibers for textiles and clothing. One of the first successful wins for farmers in the U.S. came in 2007 when 2 farmers in North Dakota were issued with hemp licenses, which hasn’t happened in more than 50 years.
In addition to this, a Farm Bill was also signed in 2014 into law that allows a few businesses and more states to start experimenting with the hemp plant, under a research guise in order to restore the crop back into the American way of life. Hemp along with its derivatives all became legalized fully in 2018, due to the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018.
The Hemp Movement Is Growing
Now that hemp is legal again it has brought about a massive increase in the products produced from hemp and the actual crop. One of the most popular products is CBD oil. Farmers are licensed across 34 states and over 500,000 acres of hemp in 2019, but only under 50% were planted or harvested. Producers converted a large portion of the hemp that was harvested in the year 2018 and 2019 into hemp extract or CBD oil, a highly popular supplement linked to countless benefits. Consumers have driven CBD sales to more than $1 billion in 2019. Some of the individual states have also started to pass different laws that have facilitated growing hemp and sales and the production of CBD supplements in their borders.
The Latest Challenges And A Promising Future
Even though the Farm Bill of 2018 has legalized hemp, there are still challenges that remain for the latest U.S. hemp industry. USDA regulations have suggested that the Drug Enforcement Administration has hopes to maintain its control over various aspects relating to this industry. The CBD industry is still waiting for regulation from the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). Credit-card processors, banking, and tech companies have also frequently refused to work alongside hemp businesses. With all these challenges, there are more entrepreneurs, consumers, and farmers that are more interested than ever in hemp and its derivatives.
An infrastructure that is new is starting to grow, which will assist farmers in processing and harvesting their crops, while at the same time more and more people are starting to discover CBD and hemp on a daily basis. A 2019 Gallup poll suggested that 14% of Americans are using CBD products. With the latest hemp industry in the U.S, starting to make history, this is a multipurpose crop that has a bright future.