Once upon a time, hemp could grow freely! It was found all over the world, cleaning soils, feeding pollinators, and helping living things heal themselves. Industrial hemp is a crop as old as ancient civilizations. In the Oki Islands near Japan, cannabis remains have been found, dating it’s use back to 8000 BC. Early forms of paper used hemp and other plant fibers, were made by the Chinese in early 2nd century. The classical Greek historian Herodotus (ca. 480 BC) reported that the inhabitants of Scythia would often inhale the vapors of hemp-seed smoke, both as ritual and for their own pleasurable recreation. Hemp’s role in the first 150 years of the United States cannot be underestimated. People used to leave hemp to heirs and it was so valuable that citizens could pay their taxes with it.
The plant’s primary uses come from the seeds, leaves, flower and stalk…basically the WHOLE plant. In 2014, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act was federally passed in the United States of America. In this bill, states were granted the right to individually choose to legalize the cultivation of the plant. Colorado was the first state to legally grow hemp in the country since WWII.
Hemp fell victim to the “Marijuana Tax Act” of 1937, however, the U.S. government issued a “Hemp for Victory” campaign in which farmers were encouraged to grow hemp so soldiers had access to the strongest fiber on Earth for their canvas tents, clothing, sails, and rope.
In 1943, hemp’s legality was reversed and was once again deemed as illegal.
In 1941, Henry Ford built a car from hemp and flax fibers. It was unique to its time because the car’s shell was deemed stronger than steel yet was lightweight and environmentally safe. The engine was made to run on ethanol, with the hopes that it’s buyers would run it on hemp oil. Today, we have cars that run on gasoline because of money and power over politics. Rockefellers’ new venture with petroleum made Ford a competition. Rockefeller pulled his strings in Washington and made sure alcohol was outlawed (Prohibition).
With all of the things hemp can replace in today’s supply chain, it is only a matter of time before hemp becomes the replacement for all petroleum and non-biodegradable products.