Hemp In History
In his 1977 work Dragons of Eden, Carl Sagan casually suggested early humans may have harvested hemp, and that this “led generally to the invention of agriculture, and thereby to civilization.” While we can’t back that claim up, we certainly like the idea. And while hemp may not play a central role in human history, it has certainly been a recurring part of it. From the humble hemp seed has sprouted an industry that has grown across time and the world. In-N-Out Hemp Productions is taking part by offering Top Rated National® hemp products.
In The Beginning
Some of the earliest known fabric samples are from nearly 10,000 years ago. These fabrics have withstood the literal test of time, and still maintained their integrity. These ancient fabrics were made from hemp sometime around 8000 BCE. Early people readily recognized the potential of hemp, and quickly used it to make a variety of goods. Groups in Russia began making hemp rope, and others in China and the Middle East used hemp to make paper. Hemp spread its way across Europe, and was cultivated by the farmers and agriculturalists of England and Germany. Indeed, King Henry VIII, when he wasn’t beheading some of his six wives, actively encouraged the cultivation of hemp to be made into rope and other materials. This would, of course, help England become a naval superpower in the 17th through 19th centuries.
But hemp wasn’t limited to the Old World. As the first colonists arrived in the New World, they planted hemp seeds into the fertile American soil. Its uses were varied and many. It became a major export crop, and hemp was sent to England to be made into refined products like clothing, books, and sails. Hemp proliferated across the American colonies for its many uses, and its immense profitability. So prolific was the plant that the first draft of the Declaration of Independence was even written on hemp paper. For many decades after that, Americans continued to find new and creative ways to use the flexible plant to create fuels, oils, and other products.
Beginning in 1906, the usage and cultivation of marijuana began to be restricted by the U.S. government. Hemp was an unfortunate casualty in these restrictions, as the plant’s similarities to marijuana were enough to condemn them to a criminal status. In 1937, the Marijuana Tax Act passed, which criminalized the drug as a way to combat the psychoactive effects of the drug. Hemp was included in this act. But the usefulness of hemp could not be ignored, and the government embraced the plant as a measure during the Second World War. The Film Hemp for Victory encouraged US farmers to produce hemp and hemp products. These goods were then fabricated into war-winning supplies like rope, parachute cords, and durable cloth.
Between WWII and 1970, the United States drew a distinction between industrial hemp and marijuana, recognizing that hemp did not share the psychoactive properties of marijuana. But the American attitude toward hemp soured once again in 1970. The Controlled Substances Act established federal drug policies that made the manufacture, importation, possession and use of drugs like marijuana a criminal offense. While certain parts of hemp avoided criminalization, including hemp seed, fiber and hemp seed oil, the immense amount of legislation surrounding hemp made it impractical for farmers to grow.
The 21st century brought with it a flood of new ideas, industries and interests. One of which was, of course, hemp. In 2014, the Farm Bill was passed which allowed groups like universities and state departments of agriculture to grow hemp for research. A collection of states used this bill to push for states to grant licenses to farmers to grow hemp. That same year, President Obama legalized the farming and cultivation of hemp in the United States. This legalization has led to an explosion of hemp-based products like hemp seed oil being introduced onto the market.