The Secret History of Hemp – It’s Older Than You Know

Sometimes, even we have to admit it…

It seems like hemp and CBD are some kind of newfangled trend for wacky people. You know, the kind whose mind is so open their brain might fall out? It’s easy to wave a hand at people who want to talk about all these hot new chemicals with all-capital letters—even easier as you light up a tobacco cigarette or take a drag from your vape!

We’re not opposed to tradition. We’re all about sticking with what works.

That’s actually part of why we sell filtered hemp pre-rolls. It turns out that hemp has a rich history throughout human culture, and when we say history, we mean it – hemp use is on record as early as 8,000 B.C.! You want to talk about sticking with what works? The long tradition of hemp use stands to prove what important, effective stuff it really is. It’s been around for a heck of a lot longer than the modern nicotine cigarette, that’s for sure.

Ready for a history lesson? We’ll make it quick, we promise. Here’s the life of hemp as we know it, from its earliest recorded use up until now.

  • 8000 B.C.

In 8,000 B.C., hemp was used in Asia, South America, Africa, and Europe. That’s a long, long time ago… At that point, we know hemp seeds and hemp oil were used in pottery and cooking. 

  • 2000 > 800 B.C.

6,000 years later, India documents hemp as a kind of gift, known sometimes as “sacred grass” and treasured among the nation’s top 5 most-revered plants. 

  • 600 > 200 B.C.

Jumping forward another couple of centuries, Europe is carrying on with the tradition of hemp use. In Greece and Russia, hemp rope is used for various things, and Germany (as it’s known today) is using hemp seeds & leaves.

  • 100 B.C.

Now we find China has begun using hemp – this time, it’s to make paper. What a versatile product! 

  • 1533

Quite a leap here – we’re moving into the 16th Century, over 1,500 years later! King Henry VII of England may be history’s greatest hemp fan… He takes things to a new level by actually fining farmers for NOT growing hemp. Yikes.

  • 1606

North America starts using hemp – it’s about time! Better late than never though. Here, hemp gets used as an ingredient in anything from clothes, shoes, and ropes to paper and food.

  • 1700s

In the 1700s, American farmers were legally required to grow hemp. Yep, just like in the good ol’ 1500s. What’s with all the weird hemp laws? A number of the big boys from U.S. history (AKA the founding fathers) encouraged hemp use. 

  • 1776

It’s been speculated that Thomas Jefferson wrote the early draft of the Declaration of Independence on… That’s right – hemp paper! We can’t confirm this one, but it’s neat to think about.

history book with quill and ink
  • 1840

By this time, hemp seed oil was used to fuel lamps around the American home. Abraham Lincoln himself apparently did this. We won’t argue with Honest Abe, and neither should you.

  • 1900

Hemp was, at this time, used as a way to search and deport illegal Mexican immigrants to the US. AThis is when “marijuana” replaced the word “cannabis” in order to make an association between the plant and the Mexicans in general.

  • 1916

Getting much closer to the modern era now. In 1916, the USDA published research indicating that hemp produces 4x more paper per acre than your run-of-the-mill tree. Say what you will about hemp, but this stuff is efficient.

  • 1929

The ban on alcohol got lifted in 1929, and cannabis was publicly termed a “devil drug” that “turned men into wild beasts that would attack women.” Uh, right… 

  • 1942

Henry Ford experiments with a new car body made from hemp! Crazy, perhaps, but hemp is 10x stronger than steel, so you can see where he was going with the idea. The US also released a documentary called Hemp for Victory, which instructed farmers to grow hemp as a way to support American efforts in WWII. U;timately, more than 400,000 acres of hemp were planted across the country during the coming few years. You can’t keep a good herb down!

  • 1970

Well, then 1970 shows up, and marijuana was classified as a Schedule 1 drug. Hemp extracts were included in the same group, CBD was also defined as a S1 drug. We know better now, but they really weren’t clear on the distinction between THC and CBD back then.

  • 1990s

In the ‘90s, the US started importing food-grade hemp oil and hemp seeds. Getting back on track!

  • 1999

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services successfully files a patent on 

cannabinoids

  • 2008

This is a big one – the first hemp licenses in over 50 years were finally given to a pair of farmers from North Dakota.

  • 2014-2018

Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump signed different versions of the Farm Bill into law, permitting pilot programs for hemp farming to get underway. The cultivation of industrial hemp (what we use in 1606 filtered hemp pre-rolls) is legalized! The definition of “industrial hemp” includes a THC concentration of less than 0.3%. And here we are.

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