A Brief History of Hemp

A Brief History of Hemp

Hemp has been cultivated and used by cultures worldwide for more than 10,000 years. Historically, it’s been an essential part of everything from pharmaceuticals and clothing to paper and religious ceremonies. The hemp seeds that come to America on the Mayflower, once planted and harvested, were used for boat lines and sails. 

The tax and licensing regulations passed with the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 made hemp more difficult to farm and restricted its scientific study. Today, thanks to recent legislation, hemp and its many benefits once again have a bright future. 

10,000 B.C. 

Early dating hemp cords from China and Taiwan are used with pottery.

200 B.C.

Greece continues the tradition of making hemp rope.

100 B.C.

China develops paper largely made of hemp.

570 A.D. 

French Queen Arnegunde is buried in hemp clothing. 


Jamestown settlers in the U.S. plant hemp for clothing, rope and ship sails.


The territory of Kentucky, a future leading producer, begins growing hemp. 


In America, medicinal preparations with a cannabis base are available. 


The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 of 1937 is passed, imposing taxes on hemp products. This is strongly opposed by the American Medical Association. 


The last commercial hemp fields in the U.S. (until only recently) are planted in Wisconsin.


The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 is ruled unconstitutional.


The Controlled Substances Act classifies hemp as an illegal drug, lumping hemp and marijuana, which are different plants, together under the cannabis family. 


The U.S. begins to import food-grade hemp seed and oil. 


The first hemp crop licenses in more than 50 years are granted to two North Dakota farmers. 


The 2014 Farm Bill allows for protected hemp research, opening the door to commercial cannabidiol  (CBD) sales. 


Passage of the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, or Farm Bill, officially legalizes the production of industrial hemp, clearing the path for hemp to regain its standing as an agricultural commodity in all 50 states. 

This article originally appeared in the May/June 2019 issue of CBD Snapshot. Never miss a story; subscribe today!

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