Hemp. It’s the most controversial plant and one of the oldest industries on the planet. But, what exactly is it?
Hemp is a variety of the cannabis plant. Just like retrievers and dachshunds are both breeds of dogs, hemp is a breed, so to speak, of cannabis. Similar lineage but different vibes. Even though they smell and look the same, hemp differs as it contains less than 0.3% THC, meaning it doesn’t have the same psychoactive properties as its more notorious cousin.
Hemp has been around for around 12,000 years. It has seen empires rise and fall; revolutions take place; countries come to be; political tide shifts. Hemp first originated in Asia back in the day, and has since grown natively and indigenously in northern latitudes across the world.
The date is 5000 BC. The place is China. In those days, the cannabis plant was used to weave paper, pottery, clothing and other goods before eventually gaining attention for its medicinal use around 2700 BC. It made its way to Eastern Asia and the Middle East in India and Egypt around 700 years later, continuing to travel west reaching Europe in 800 BC. It took quite some time for the hemp plant to cross the Atlantic to the Americas, dating somewhere around 1500, when the Spanish explorers brought it to what’s now Chile.
In the 1500 and 1600s, Native Americans, new settlers (including Puritans) grew their own hemp varieties. It became a widespread plant in places like Connecticut and Massachusetts, where it was even mandatory for a time for farmers to grow at least a teaspoon of so as not to remain reliant upon the British import of the plant.
It wasn’t long before hemp became a huge cash crop in the Americas. In 1965, our nation’s first president, George Washington, started growing it himself. Washington would continue to plant every day until April in order to grow 27 bushels each year. Thomas Jefferson reportedly found hemp superior to the tobacco plant because it didn’t exhaust the soil or require as much fertilizer to grow. And in 1776, law was enacted that required all farmers to grow hemp, or otherwise face a fine. How times have changed.
At the onset of our country’s founding, many believed hemp was the most vital crop, and this belief held fast throughout the 19th and up to the early 20th century. In 1947, perceptions and laws on hemp began to change. The government passed the Marijuana Tax Act, which placed heavy taxes on anyone growing hemp. Newspapers started launching a series of propaganda campaigns against Marijuana. Some campaigns smeared reports that the use of cannabis was responsible for Mexicans and Native Americans exhibiting excessive violence against white women and families.
In 1970, the hemp plant became classified as a controlled substance, identifying it as a Schedule I drug and rendering it illegal. A Schedule I drug essentially defines a drug as having no medicinal value and highly addictive qualities. These events launched a war against the hemp plant, and widespread fear among the masses.
With hemp now illegal, the import of it did not cease as hemp-based goods were still in huge demand in the American marketplace. Hemp spans a variety of different uses and materials: from household items and plastic alternatives to textiles and even fuel. Hemp is high in Omega-3s, has three times the strength of cotton, is antimicrobial, has the power to uptake metals in soil, and help pollution through its capture of carbon and self biodegradability. You can even use it to run your car. But of all its various uses, the number one is CBD.
The hemp plant is, in every sense of the phrase, a super plant. It’s the perfect element to incorporate in a modern approach to human health. The reintegration of hemp can not only help boost the economy and build communities, but can also offer invaluable benefits to the health and wellness of everyday people in everyday life.
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CBD’s popularity is growing by the day in popularity, and for good reason. It’s now our job to educate the public on its vast benefits, and the alternative options we all have to take control of our health, safely, effectively and naturally. The CBD movement is picking up pace, and it’s time to rewrite hemp’s history yet again. Join us.