The History of Hemp

The Oldest Example of Human Industry

Hemp-derived products are popping up in stores all across the United States, and while the resurgence of hemp is fairly recent, the plant has been farmed and cultivated for thousands of years.

In fact, hemp is believed to be the oldest example of human industry, and historical evidence suggests hemp was grown during the Neolithic period from East Asia to Europe. There’s also archeological evidence of the use of hemp fiber dating back to 8,000 BC, but that’s just the evidence we’ve found. Hemp cultivation was likely started much earlier in human history. 

Around the year 1545, hemp made the voyage to the Americas where the Spaniards began cultivating the crop in Chile. And about a century later, Puritans were cultivating hemp in New England and wild hemp could be found along the Potomac River. 

Hemp is such an integral part of U.S. history that it was being cultivated in the United States before the country was even established. And afterward, George Washington and several other early U.S. presidents grew and supported hemp as a necessary agricultural commodity. 

Legal Bumps in the Road

But let’s jump forward a bit to the passing of The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. This act levied a tax on anyone who dealt commercially in any form of cannabis, making it incredibly difficult for American farmers to continue growing hemp. 

From there, the hemp industry began to fade away with a brief comeback during World War II. This period of hemp revival began to support the war effort because imported fibers were in short supply. Our soldiers needed hemp for things like uniforms, canvas, and rope. 

During this time, the U.S. government lifted the tax act and even created a short film in 1942 called “Hemp for Victory” to encourage farmers to grow hemp once again. 

Sadly, as the war came to a close, hemp processing plants were shut down and the industry faded away once again. 

In 1969, the Supreme Court ruled the Marijuana Tax Act as unconstitutional because it violated the fifth amendment right against self-incrimination. 

But in response, Congress passed the Controlled Substances Act that bundled all forms of cannabis into a Schedule 1 drug classification. 

Hemp was no longer officially recognized as distinct from marijuana and both were demonized as drugs with high abuse potential and no medical use.   

An Agricultural Commodity Restored

Thankfully, the modern-day U.S. government has finally come to its senses and lifted the ban on hemp with the 2018 Farm Bill, but we won’t get into the details of the Farm Bill in this video. 

Today, we’re moving toward once again supporting farmers and the economy with one of the world’s most versatile agricultural resources.

We believe hemp will better the United States and the world as a whole. 

You’ve learned about its past, now help us pave the way so hemp can enjoy a brighter future.