A quick lesson on the history of Hemp
Up until recently, hemp has been federally illegal since the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. However, apart from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, hemp has been an important and widely grown crop throughout history. New legislation indicates that hemp will once again be a prominent crop in the future, as the highlights of hemp’s historical usage demonstrate its versatile value.
The First Uses of Hemp
Hemp is believed to have been used almost ten thousand years ago, in the first major civilization called Mesopotamia. Originally hemp was primarily used to fashion material for clothing, yet its medicinal properties were also recognized in ancient times. As hemp seeds spread throughout Europe in 500 B.C, they were often used in an effort to relieve complications from conditions including insomnia, childbirth, dysentery, and several others. Around 150 B.C, the Chinese used hemp to make the world’s first paper. From there on, hemp spread throughout the world until it was ultimately required to be grown by law in the middle ages. In England during the 1500s, King Henry VIII imposed a hefty fine on farmers if they did not dedicate a certain amount of their land to hemp growth. Eventually, farmers would also be mandated to grow hemp in America, during the 1700s.
Hemp Becomes Controversial
The history of hemp and the hemp industry was booming in the early 1900s, and it was expected to ultimately become a billion-dollar industry in the near future. However, companies in the paper, petroleum, and pharmacy industries viewed hemp as a threat to their business and began investing in outlawing the crop. Hemp was heavily taxed in 1937 and finally banned completely within a year. Hemp farming was briefly legal during World War II, as Japan was the United States’ main source of industrial hemp products, mainly fibers needed for the war. After the war, the government distinguished between hemp and marijuana as different strains of the cannabis plant and allowed for some industrial hemp products. The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 nullified the distinction between marijuana and hemp, making the plant entirely illegal once again.
Overall, hemp has been utilized by various civilizations throughout history, for numerous purposes. While the plant is still outlawed by many state governments, it is on the way to once again being recognized as a versatile, valuable crop.