A Brief History of Hemp
Hemp is one of the most misunderstood plants on Earth. It didn’t used to be this way…In the 5,000+ years we’ve cultivated hemp, it’s gone through many drastic changes.
In 1563, Queen Elizabeth I decreed that all people owning more than 60 acres of land would be fined if they didn’t grow hemp.
Within the next 15 years, the first books detailing medicinal effects were written.
Growing hemp is the law.
In some U.S. states, hemp was legally required for farmers to grow. They could be sent to jail for not growing the plant.
Hemp was extremely valuable for fabrics and food. To understand just how valuable, consider that from 1631 through the early 1800’s, you could pay your taxes with hemp. That’s 200 years as a legal form of tender.
The Mexican Revolution: is “Marijuana” Racist?
You might’ve noticed that the word “marijuana” sounds Spanish.
Over many years, cannabis cultivators manipulated the plant so much that eventually you got what’s now known as marijuana. Although, it wasn’t given this name until later.
Before 1910, the word “marijuana” didn’t exist. It was just called cannabis.
Then, between 1910-1920, there was a huge surge in legal Mexican immigrants. Although cannabis was already popular in the U.S. for its versatility, smoking it wasn’t common until introduced by immigrants.
Yeah, that was definitely racist.
Racism is a huge, unfortunate part of our history. So as we know, this increase in immigrants wasn’t accepted by everyone.
When a bill was passed to criminalize the plant, it was called “locoweed.” This attack on cannabis wasn’t just about its newfound recreational uses. Don’t believe me? Here’s a quote from the first director of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, Harry Anslinger:
Marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind… Most marijuana smokers are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their satanic music, jazz and swing, result from marijuana usage.
Still not sure? Here’s one more:
Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men…the primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races.
If this part of cannabis’ history doesn’t make you cringe, we’re not sure what will.
You might be wondering now —it it OK to call it marijuana?
Some people avoid the word as if a malevolent wizard cursed it, but so much time has passed that it doesn’t hold the same meaning it once did. So don’t feel bad using it!
The downfall of hemp
Public opinion of this innocent plant took a turn for the worst. Thanks to propaganda films like Reefer Madness and yellow journalism, people were convinced that cannabis could turn a person violent and evil.
In 1941, the Marihuana Tax Act was established, lumping hemp into the same category as it’s infamous cousin, marijuana. This act created a bunch of new regulations that made it near impossible for farmers to grow hemp. This unfortunately lead to a redesign of Henry Ford’s first concept car, which was originally designed to be fueled with hemp.
Hemp for Victory
Hemp is an exceptionally versatile plant, used to make thousands of products. It was especially useful in the 1940’s to make cordage and strong sails for the navy.
During World War II, Japan cut off our access to hemp, so the U.S. government created a campaign (and accompanying film) called Hemp for Victory. They encouraged farmers throughout the country to grow hemp to support war efforts.
But as soon as the war ended, farmers’ license to grow were revoked and the Hemp For Victory campaign seemed to vanish.
If we know hemp is so useful —why are we playing this game?
Hemp doesn’t have recreational value. It grows quickly and removes toxins from soil. This is so well-known, in fact, that you can find hemp strategically planted around Chernobyl in an effort to help clean the soil and air.
Like a lot of unjust laws in U.S. history, hemp was shunned for its appearance.
Cannabis, or Cannabis L. Sativa, is a familiar term. When most people hear that word, they play Word Association in their head by translating it to “marijuana.”
What we need to realize is that Cannabis is a species. Both hemp and marijuana come from it, but that doesn’t make them the same. It’s like red apples vs. green apples; they’re both apples, but clearly have genetic differences setting them apart.
Hemp and Marijuana: Words of the Past?
There are countless strains of cannabis in the world today. Summing them up as hemp or marijuana doesn’t always do them justice.
Hemp, or “industrial hemp” as its often called, is defined as having 0.3% or less of the psychoactive compound delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
This is already starting to happen, but down the road we foresee more people labeling cannabis by its cannabinoid profile instead. For instance, many people who want cannabis for health purposes rather than recreational, might search for high-CBD / low-THC cannabis strains.
2014 U.S. Farm Bill
About every 5 years, a new bill is passed regarding agriculture and food policy of the federal government. President Obama signed the 2014 farm bill into law, which defines industrial hemp as distinct from marijuana. It also allowed for some universities to start research programs; a necessary step to discover what CBD can do.
Fast forward to today, hemp is making a serious comeback. Many states have recognized the values of this amazing plant by legalizing medical cannabis. While laws remain a little confusing at times, it’s important to know that properly sourced hemp products are legal in all 50 states.
There’s an increasing market for nutritional supplements made with imported CBD hemp oil, which you can buy online in the form of drops, vapes, chocolates, lotions, and more.