A lot of what we know about CBD has come to light in the last decade or so, but what we don’t know is equally as important. In this blog we’ll explore the history of Hemp and it’s role in our history.
History of Hemp
Hemp is an ancient plant that has been ingrained in world cultures for a large part of our human history. The weaving of hemp fiber began over 10,000 years ago. Historians suggest that the use of can be tracked as far back as 8000 B.C.
In Great Britain, growing hemp dates back to 800 AD.
In the 16th Century, Henry VIII encouraged farmers to plant the crop extensively to provide materials for the British Naval fleet. A steady supply of hemp was needed for the construction of battleships and their components. Rigging, pendants, pennants, sails, and oakum were all made from hemp fiber and oil. Hemp paper was used for maps, logs, and even for the Bibles that sailors may have brought on board. The history of hemp is amazing, we could go on for pages, this is just a quick primer.
Hemp arrived in Colonial America with the Puritans in the form of seed for planting and as fiber in the lines, sails and caulking of the Mayflower. British sailing vessels were never without a store of hemp seed, and Britain’s colonies were compelled by law to grow hemp.
Hemp was the fiber of choice for maritime uses because of its natural decay resistance and its adaptability to cultivation. Each warship and merchant vessel required miles of hempen line and tons of hempen canvas, which meant the Crown’s hunger for the commodity was great. Ship captains were ordered to disseminate hemp seed widely to provide fiber wherever repairs might be needed in distant lands.
By the mid-1600s, hemp had become an important part of the economy in New England, and in the south from Maryland and Virginia. The Colonies produced cordage, cloth, canvas, sacks and paper from hemp during the years leading up to the Revolutionary War. Most of the fiber was then destined for British consumption, a small percentage was used for domestic purposes. Ironically, the first drafts of the Declaration of Independence were penned on hemp paper.
Hemp fiber was so important to the young Republic that farmers were compelled by patriotic duty to grow it, and were allowed to pay taxes with it. George Washington grew hemp and encouraged all citizens to sow hemp widely. Thomas Jefferson bred improved hemp varieties, and invented a special brake for crushing the plant’s stems during fiber processing.
Hemp was an integral part of our American history and the forging of our nation.
How did something so useful suddenly become the topic of controversy and speculation?
In my next blog we’ll take a leap forward in time and explore the controversy and cover-ups and ultimately lead to the Marijuana Tax act of 1937 and the Controlled substance act we know today.
Until next time be well.