A brief history of hemp
The history of hemp can be traced back 10,000 years to ancient Chinese and Mesopotamian cultures, who are believed to have used it as a source of both food and fibre
Public confusion surrounding the differences between cannabis and hemp has often led to the latter’s remarkable array of uses and benefits being overlooked. The recent rise of CBD usage in cosmetics and health products is simply the latest way in which the hemp plant has been used by societies around the world for thousands of years.
The history of hemp is a fascinating tale, from early cultivations to modern uses. But before we delve into the archives, here’s a slightly more recent history lesson…
Last year, a report prepared for the US Congress described hemp as “cultivated for use in the production of a wide range of products, including foods and beverages, personal care products, nutritional supplements, fabrics and textiles, paper, construction materials, and other manufactured and industrial goods.”1 Yet in the next paragraph, the report acknowledged hemp has been restricted in the United States as a Schedule I controlled substance.
And while the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 relaxed rules on hemp production and marketing, further underlining the differences between hemp and marijuana, many other countries around the world still struggle to differentiate hemp from other strains of Cannabis sativa.
If legislators and law makers delved into their history books, they would discover (perhaps to their surprise) that the practical uses of hemp were understood long before Congress received its report. The history of hemp can be traced back 10,000 years to ancient Chinese and Mesopotamian cultures, who are believed to have used it as a source of both food and fibre. Philosophers and doctors in the Roman Empire debated the medicinal benefits of the hemp plant, building on research carried out centuries earlier in Greece. Greek scholar Herodotus was writing about hemp’s suitability for garment making and personal hygiene back in 440BC.
Fast forward two millennia, and hemp remained a key crop in North America. It was used in the 17th century for clothing and oil, with early Settlers building rudimentary hemp presses. Its importance endured well into the 20th century, with Henry Ford developing a prototype vehicle which was constructed out of hemp and even powered by it. Yet despite tens of thousands of other potential uses having already been identified for this natural marvel, industrial hemp was banned in America in 1937.
Similar prohibitions were enacted and enforced around the world. In the 1950s, the UN classed hemp as a narcotic drug unless it was cultivated exclusively for industrial purposes. Hemp largely dropped off the public’s radar as a useful material, and it’s only recently that its numerous uses are being belatedly rediscovered.
Once again, hemp is being used for food and fuel, fabrics and furnishings. And while we may not see cars manufactured out of hemp again, its naturally occurring cannabinoids provide the cornerstone for Cannalogica’s range of beauty and wellness products. Key active ingredients like CBD, CBG and CBN are being tested and researched around the world for their ability to help with everything from inflammation to stress. Perhaps the old ways really are the best, after all.