the story of hemp
Now, this is a story all about how hemp got flipped-turned upside down...
Hemp gets a bad rap. When you hear the word “hemp,” you probably think of weed, bud, pot, chronic, reefer, Mary Jane, doobies, wacky tobaccy, devil’s lettuce, or any of the other assorted monikers for “that plant that gets you high.” But hemp is much more than that. (And much less than that!) In fact, the main difference between hemp and marijuana is that hemp has a THC content of 0.3% or less. So, it can’t even get you high. But here’s what it CAN do...
As far back as 8,000 BC, hemp as been cultivated for textile fiber. The earliest specimens were discovered in ancient Mesopotamia, and are considered to be the oldest examples of human industry. In 1,200 BC, hemp hit Europe and quickly spread throughout the rest of the world. The Chinese pioneered the use of hemp in paper-making, and in Canada, it was the first crop to be subsidized by the government. During the Middle Ages, sailing ships became dependent on hemp for their sails. Fun fact: the word “canvas” derives from “cannabis!” For centuries hemp has been used for medicinal purposes, and has been a common remedy for difficult childbirth, convulsions, arthritic joints, rheumatism, dysentery, and insomnia.
Although hemp played a major role in the early development of North America, it was eventually overshadowed by cotton. Kind of like how Betamax lost out to VHS in the 80s. In the 1930s, hemp took an even bigger hit when petroleum-based synthetic textile companies like DuPont lobbied against it. Newspaper manufacturers and lumber barons were also threatened by this wonder weed. In 1937, despite being called “the billion-dollar crop” by Popular Mechanics, the negative propaganda won out and hemp was banned later that year.
For the next 80 years, the plant with over 25,000 diverse uses including paints, inks, varnishes, food, building materials, and textiles (fun fact: the first Levi’s jeans were made from hemp!) was banned in the United States, whose Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper. Oh, sweet irony!
A New Hope: In December 2018, the Farm Bill removed hemp from Schedule 1 controlled substances, making it an ordinary agricultural commodity. And, with modern technical advances, the potential for hemp expands into a myriad of new uses such as composite boards, motor vehicle brake and clutch pads, plastics, fuels, bio-diesel, and eco-solid fuel. In fact, anything that can be made from a hydrocarbon (fossil fuel) can also be made from a carbohydrate like hemp. For more info on what’s in hemp, please refer to our FAQs!