History Of Hemp

History Of #Hemp

Yangshao culture (ca. 4800 BCE) amphora with impressed hemp cord design
Radical 200 (麻 or ), the Chinese character for hemp, depicts two plants under a shelter. The use of hemp in Taiwan dates back at least 10,000 years.[90]

Hemp is one of the earliest domesticated plants known.[91] It has been cultivated by many civilizations for over 12,000 years.[92][unreliable source?][93][not in citation given] Hemp use archaeologically dates back to the Neolithic Age in China, with hemp fiber imprints found on Yangshao culture pottery dating from the 5th millennium BC.[90][94] The Chinese later used hemp to make clothes, shoes, ropes, and an early form of paper.[90] The classical Greek historian Herodotus (ca. 480 BC) reported that the inhabitants of Scythia would often inhale the vapors of hemp-seed smoke, both as ritual and for their own pleasurable recreation.[95]

Textile expert Elizabeth Wayland Barber summarizes the historical evidence that Cannabis sativa, “grew and was known in the Neolithic period all across the northern latitudes, from Europe (Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Romania, Ukraine) to East Asia (Tibet and China),” but, “textile use of Cannabis sativa does not surface for certain in the West until relatively late, namely the Iron Age.”[96] “I strongly suspect, however, that what catapulted hemp to sudden fame and fortune as a cultigen and caused it to spread rapidly westwards in the first millennium B.C. was the spread of the habit of pot-smoking from somewhere in south-central Asia, where the drug-bearing variety of the plant originally occurred. The linguistic evidence strongly supports this theory, both as to time and direction of spread and as to cause.”[97]

Jews living in Palestine in the 2nd century were familiar with the cultivation of hemp, as witnessed by a reference to it in the Mishna (Kil’ayim 2:5) as a variety of plant, along with Arum, that sometimes takes as many as three years to grow from a seedling. In late medieval Germany and Italy, hemp was employed in cooked dishes, as filling in pies and tortes, or boiled in a soup.[98] Hemp in later Europe was mainly cultivated for its fibers, and was used for ropes on many ships, including those of Christopher Columbus. The use of hemp as a cloth was centered largely in the countryside, with higher quality textiles being available in the towns.

The Spaniards brought hemp to the Western Hemisphere and cultivated it in Chile starting about 1545.[99] However, in May 1607, “hempe” was among the crops Gabriel Archer observed being cultivated by the natives at the main Powhatan village, where Richmond, Virginia is now situated;[100] and in 1613, Samuell Argall reported wild hemp “better than that in England” growing along the shores of the upper Potomac. As early as 1619, the first Virginia House of Burgesses passed an Act requiring all planters in Virginia to sow “both English and Indian” hemp on their plantations.[101] The Puritans are first known to have cultivated hemp in New England in 1645.[99]

United States “Marihuana” production permit. In the United States, hemp cultivation is legally prohibited, but during World War II farmers were encouraged to grow hemp for cordage, to replace Manila hemp previously obtained from Japanese-controlled areas. The U.S. government produced a film explaining the uses of hemp, called Hemp for Victory.

George Washington pushed for the growth of hemp and even grew hemp himself, as it was a cash crop commonly used to make rope and fabric. In May 1765 he noted in his diary about the sowing of seeds each day until mid-April. Then he recounts the harvest in October which he grew 27 bushels that year.

There is some speculation that George Washington smoked the flower of the cannabis plant in order to achieve a recreational high,[54] but there is no evidence in any of his writings that he grew hemp for anything other than industrial purposes. It is sometimes supposed that an excerpt from Washington’s diary, which reads “Began to seperate [sic] the Male from the Female hemp at Do.&—rather too late” is evidence that he was trying to grow female plants for the THC found in the flowers. However, the editorial remark accompanying the diary states that “This may arise from their [the male] being coarser, and the stalks larger” [102] In subsequent days, he describes soaking the hemp[103] (to make the fibers usable) and harvesting the seeds,[104] suggesting that he was growing hemp for industrial purposes, not recreational.

George Washington also imported the Indian Hemp plant from Asia, which was used for fiber and, by some growers, for intoxicating resin production. In a letter to William Pearce who managed the plants for him Washington says, “What was done with the Indian Hemp plant from last summer? It ought, all of it, to be sown again; that not only a stock of seed sufficient for my own purposes might have been raised, but to have disseminated seed to others; as it is more valuable than common hemp.”[citation needed]

Additional presidents known to have farmed hemp include Thomas Jefferson,[105] James Madison, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, Zachary Taylor, and Franklin Pierce. [106]

Historically, hemp production had made up a significant portion of antebellum Kentucky’s economy. Before the American Civil War, many slaves worked on plantations producing hemp.[107]

In 1937, the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 was passed in the United States. levying a tax on anyone who dealt commercially in cannabis, hemp, or marijuana. The passing of the Act to destroy the US hemp industry has been disputed to involve businessmen Andrew Mellon, Randolph Hearst and the Du Pont family.[108][109][110]

One claim is that Hearst believed[dubious ] that his extensive timber holdings were threatened by the invention of the decorticator which he feared would allow hemp to become a cheap substitute for the paper pulp used for newspaper.[108][111] Historical research indicates this fear was unfounded because improvements of the decorticators in the 1930s – machines that separated the fibers from the hemp stem – could not make hemp fiber a cheaper substitute for fibers from other sources. Further, decorticators did not perform satisfactorily in commercial production.[108][112]

Another claim is that Mellon, Secretary of the Treasury and the wealthiest man in America at that time, had invested heavily in DuPont‘s new synthetic fiber, nylon, and believed[dubious ] that the replacement of the traditional resource, hemp, was integral to the new product’s success.[108][113][114][115][116][117][118][119] The company DuPont and many industrial historians dispute a link between nylon and hemp, nylon became immediately a scarce commodity. Nylon had characteristics that could be used for toothbrushes (sold from 1938) and very thin nylon fiber could compete with silk and rayon in various textiles normally not produced from hemp fiber, such as very thin stockings for women.[120][121][122][112][123]
Hemp was used extensively by the United States during World War II to make uniforms, canvas, and rope.[124] Much of the hemp used was cultivated in Kentucky and the Midwest. During World War II, the U.S. produced a short 1942 film, Hemp for Victory, promoting hemp as a necessary crop to win the war.

Historical cultivation

Suitable climate zones for hemp cultivation

Hemp has been grown for millennia in Asia and the Middle East for its fibre. Commercial production of hemp in the West took off in the eighteenth century, but was grown in the sixteenth century in eastern England.[125] Because of colonial and naval expansion of the era, economies needed large quantities of hemp for rope and oakum. In the early 1940s, world production of hemp fiber ranged from 250 000 to 350 000 metric tonnes, Russia was the biggest producer.[112]

In Western Europe, the cultivation of hemp was not legally banned by the 1930s, but the commercial cultivation stopped by then, due to decreased demand compared to increasingly popular artificial fibers.[126] Speculation about the potential for commercial cultivation of hemp in large quantities has been criticized due to successful competition from other fibers for many products. The world production of hemp fiber fell from over 300,000 metric tons 1961 to about 75,000 metric tons in the early 1990s and has after that been stable at that level.[127]


Japanese Shinto shrine with rope made of hemp

In Japan, hemp was historically used as paper and a fiber crop. There is archaeological evidence cannabis was used for clothing and the seeds were eaten in Japan back to the Jōmon period (10,000 to 300 BCE). Many Kimono designs portray hemp, or asa (Japanese: ), as a beautiful plant. In 1948, marijuana was restricted as a narcotic drug. The ban on marijuana imposed by the United States authorities was alien to Japanese culture, as the drug had never been widely used in Japan before. Though these laws against marijuana are some of the world’s strictest, allowing five years imprisonment for possession of the drug, they exempt hemp growers, whose crop is used to make robes for Buddhist monks and loincloths for Sumo wrestlers. Because marijuana use in Japan has doubled in the past decade, these exemptions have recently been called into question.[128]


The cultivation of hemp in Portuguese lands began around the fourteenth century onwards, it was raw material for the preparation of rope and plugs for the Portuguese ships. Colonies for factories for the production of flax hemp, such as the Royal Flax Hemp Factory in Brazil.

After the Restoration of Independence in 1640, in order to recover the ailing Portuguese naval fleet, were encouraged its cultivation as the Royal Decree of D. John IV in 1656. At that time its cultivation was carried out in Trás-os-Montes, Zone Tower Moncorvo, more precisely in Vilariça Valley, fertile land for any crop irrigation, and a very large area, flat and very fertile culture still wide until the last century grew up tobacco, a plant that needs a large space to expand and grow, the area lies in the valley of Serra de Bornes.

As of 1971, this cultivar is considered illegal because of marijuana, a decision subsequently revoked by the European Union.[citation needed][clarification needed]