An image of a hemp field.

October 28

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A Brief History Of Hemp

By Harrison Payton

October 28, 2021


The History Of Hemp Is More Ancient Than You May Think

Hemp has a long history of cultivation and uses around the world, dating back centuries. It is believed hemp was first grown in China and was one of the first plants ever cultivated by humans. In the Americas, hemp was used for rope and clothing by the indigenous people who lived there long before outside influence. The hemp industry is now growing rapidly, and you can find hemp-based products on store shelves everywhere you go. So what does this mean for hemp? Let’s take a brief look at hemp’s past, present, and future.

An image of a field of hemp.
Hemp has been used for thousands of years for food, paper, rope, and textiles.

The Origins Of Hemp In China And Its Global Spread

Evidence shows that hemp was first found in China roughly 8,000 years ago. It’s believed hemp was one of the first plants to be cultivated by humans, and it spread from China into other areas such as modern-day Taiwan and India. Natives to the region originally used it for its fibers and seeds. It was discovered in both pottery and food across multiple archeological dig sites, particularly close to the Yangtze River.

As hemp spread across Africa and Europe over roughly the next 7,000 years, its popularity and multitude of uses only grew. From 2,000 to 1,700 BC, Ancient Egyptians made use of hemp for treating inflammation and sore eyes. As hemp began its journey into Europe through a tribe from Eurasia known as the Scythians, it was commonly used for fumigation, food, and even recreation. In this nomadic society, hemp was used in burial and cleansing ceremonies where they would inhale the fumes of the burning plant.

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Cultivation Of Hemp In America

The earliest indications of settlers using hemp in the Americas were in 1607 in Jamestown, Virginia. This was deduced from evidence indicating English colonists used hemp plant fibers for paper, textiles, clothing, rope, and fuel for lamps. Through the 1700s, many colonial cities and towns used hemp as a form of tender because it was generally thought to be worth more than money in that period. Drafts of the Declaration of Independence and Consitution were even written on hemp paper!

Hemp was used for both recreational purposes and as medicine throughout much of the 1800s. This extended roughly until the 1930s, when the demonization of hemp started after it was increasingly associated with marijuana.

Hemp’s Current Status In The United States And The World

The hemp industry is rapidly growing, and you can find hemp-based products on store shelves almost everywhere you go. The plant has experienced a resurgence in popularity because of its various uses, from textiles to medicine to construction materials. At one point, it was estimated that a hemp field could yield nearly four times the amount of paper that trees could offer. This makes an excellent case for hemp in terms of sustainability in the future. While the United States government recently legalized hemp cultivation for creating CBD in 2018, much research still needs to be done before hemp and CBD become fully recognized by the FDA for their potential medical benefits.

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