Commercial Hemp: A Brief History

Hemp is among the oldest industries on the planet, going back more than 10,000 years to the beginnings of pottery. The Columbia History of the World states that the oldest relic of human industry is a bit of hemp fabric dating back to approximately 8,000 BC.

Contrary to common belief, Hemp has no THC, which is the active chemical ingredient in marijuana. Although the two plants belong to the same family, the similarities end there.

In some ways, hemp has been lost to North American culture. In colonial times hemp was the crop of choice for many farmers, including both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence on hemp paper and the first US flag Betsy Ross knitted was from 100% hemp fibre. Moving forward to 1942, the U.S. Government produced a video titled “Hemp for Victory” encouraging farmers to grow more hemp due to a shortage caused by wartime activities. Even though hemp had been used for hundreds of years in North America it saw a rapid decline in usage as the textile and chemical industries took front stage in the post-war years.

In addition to its amazing nutritional benefits (which are detailed below), the hemp plant is a completely renewable resource and every single part of the plant can be made into an end-consumer product. Hemp requires no pesticide, can be rotated with traditional crops as its roots penetrate deeper into the ground and the yield per acre is among the highest of all crops.

In recent years hemp has started to gain more widespread acceptance. In Canada, commercial hemp farming was reintroduced in 1998 and in the United States; the first license to grow hemp was awarded to a North Dakotan farmer in early 2007.

The increased use of commercial hemp in a wide range of industries has the very real potential to lessen our environmental impact on the Earth and improve our overall health & well-being.

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