Green growing Hemp plant indoors with shadows and white background with sun decoration. From e1011 Lab's page on history of the hemp seed and what is hemp.

What is Hemp’s History?

E1011 Labs explore the fascinating history of hemp.

Hemp has deep roots in history. For centuries the plant has been cultivated and consumed across the globe. Several religious documents mention hemp as the ‘Sacred Grass’ or ‘King of Seeds’.

But where did this miracle plant originate? How did it gain word-wide popularity throughout the years?

Let’s travel down memory lane and discover the journey of the highly resourceful plant.

What is Hemp?

Hemp is a specific type of Cannabis Sativa L. plant. Unlike its relative commonly referred to as marijuana (read here for why you should not use this word), the hemp plant does not contain substantial amounts of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Hemp is defined at the Cannabis Sativa L. plant with less than 0.3% THC on a dry-weight basis. At these minuscule percentages, the intoxicating and psychoactive effects of THC are almost entirely eliminated.

 

Historical and Current Uses of Hemp

Hemp cultivation dates back 50,000 years ago, when it was spun to make usable fiber. Humans continued to grow hemp all the way through the modern age.

In fact, both Presidents Washington and Jefferson cultivated the plant. Although unconfirmed, there is belief that some Presidents would even roll up the flower and smoke it.  In the 1700’s, Americans were legally obliged to harvest hemp during the Colonial and Early Republic Period.

Throughout generations, hemp has served as a vital component of everyday life, with hemp uses ranging from the manufacture of daily essentials such as shoes and clothes to lamp fuels, ropes, and paper. Today, industrial hemp is used in the manufacturing of clothing, textiles, biodegradable plastics, insulation, paint, animal feed, food, and biofuel.

Beyond hemp’s myriad of industrial uses, a new market for the plant is emerging: wellness.

THC isn’t the only cannabinoid found in cannabis. Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of just dozens of other compounds found in the plant, and we’re just now beginning to unlock its medicinal and therapeutic potential. E1011 labs is on the cutting-edge of both the personal-health community and the tech sector. By intersecting innovative technology with natural curative hemp our Elon is revolutionizing the way hemp-derived CBD is delivered and transforming people’s wellness regimen. 

Chinese Hemp Origins

Hemp is believed to have come to Europe in about 1,200 BC and subsequently spread throughout the world. Hemp is most certainly the earliest crop refined to make textile fiber – archaeologists have discovered remains of hemp cloth in an ancient Mesopotamia (present Iran and Iraq), dating back to 8,000 BC.

China has been cultivating hemp for over 6000 years, establishing the longest history with the crop. During the time of the Sung dynasty (500 AD), Emperor Shen Nung taught his people to harvest hemp for cloth.

The Chinese were also the first in the world to produce hemp paper in about 150 BC. More significantly, hemp was exploited for its medicinal properties. Many early Chinese folk remedies and primordial medications highlight the usefulness of hemp leaf, root, flower, and seed. The flower and seed were known to be beneficial for convulsions, complications during childbirth, rheumatism, arthritis, dysentery, and even insomnia.

Hemp in the Middle Ages

The middle ages saw hemp gain substantial economic and social popularity, fulfilling the world’s need for fiber, food, and more. Being resistant to salt water and three times as durable as cotton, sailing ships became dependent on hemp rope, canvas and oakum. In 1535, Henry VIII of the United Kingdom passed an act pursuing landowners to sow 1/4th of an acre of hemp or face fines. Until the 1920’s, 80% of all clothing was manufactured from textile hemp.

Hemp in Canada

Hemp was being cultivated throughout the central and western provinces of Canada long before the confederation. Hemp was also the first plant to be subsidized by the government. In 1801, hemp seeds were distributed among farmers by the Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, and in 1822, the provincial parliament of Upper Canada allotted £300 for purchasing machinery to process hemp.

The 1923 budget came with incentives for domestic hemp producers. With the encouragement of the government, a seventh hemp mill was established in Canada, the Manitoba Cordage Company, in order to sate the huge market of hemp, 

Hemp and North America: Prohibitions

Hemp was probably being cultivated in North America long before the Europeans’ arrival and was first introduced in the region in 1606. Although it played a vital role in early development, the labor-intensive and costly harvesting mechanism of hemp caused it to be largely overshadowed by cotton. However, by the 1930’s, modern machinery that reduced manual harvesting procedures were introduced, making cultivation and production more manageable and cost-efficient. Hemp was on the verge of becoming ‘the billion-dollar crop.’

But in September 1937, the US government passed the Marijuana Tax Act under the influence of major synthetic textile companies and other dominant groups who saw hemp as a potential threat to their business. This recommended prohibitive tax laws, and imposed an industrial excise tax on hemp dealers. Eventually, hemp production was banned altogether later that year. Following pursuit, the Canadian government also prohibited the production of hemp under the ‘Opium and Narcotics Act’ of 1938.

WWII: Hemp Bans Lifted, but Temporarily

In 1942 the Japanese invasion of the Philippines cut off the US from their main supply of imported hemp. The US and Canadian governments were forced to lift the aforementioned imposed restrictions to meet war demands. Untill the end of the war, the US Department of Agriculture issued farmers special permits to grow hemp to facilitate the war effort. Even going as far as releasing a film entitled ‘Hemp for Victory’ for extra motivation and kindling of patriotism.

Once the war was over, the government again shut down all hemp processing plants, and the industry died down again.

Hemp Then and Now: 1937 to Modern Day

 

From 1937 to the late 1960’s, the US government acknowledged that industrial hemp and marijuana were two different varieties of the Cannabis plant. However, in 1970, the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) officially disregarded this distinction, with the last commercial hemp fields being planted in Wisconsin in 1957.

However, the 1900’s saw a revival in the hemp chapter, as the US began to import food-grade hemp seeds and oil. In 2004, a court case between the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Hemp Industries Association resulted in the permanent protection of seed-based hemp foods and hemp products for personal care.

In 2007, hemp licenses were issued to two farmers in North Dakota, and in 2014, President Barack Obama signed the Farm Bill, permitting research institutes to initiate piloting hemp farming programs. More importantly, the bill legally separated hemp from cannabis, legalizing industrial hemp cultivation. It defined hemp as Cannabis sativa L. plants with a 0.3% concentration or less of THC, hence not considered to have intoxicating effects. Still unsure about the difference between THC and CBD, read here for more information.

In 2018, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the cannabidiol (CBD) oral medication Epidiolex used to treat seizures in patients aged 2 years and older.  President Donald Trump signed into law the 2018 Farm Bill, which like the 2014 bill affirms the removal of hemp and its derivatives from the Controlled Substances Act, and legalized industrial hemp for cultivation.

Today, hemp is used not only to manufacture conventional products but is also being used in pharmaceutics, therapeutics, and even weight loss regimes. Even the beauty and pet treat industries have found a darling active ingredient in hemp-derived CBD. Keep your eye on hemp news for inventions like the CBD-infused mattress!

With all the novelty in an up and coming industry, it’s vital to find practicality. That’s why at e1011 labs, we strive to make things that simply work better, for you and the environment. Our patented Elon and Stem hemp delivery system makes accessing hemp’s curative properties easier than ever before. Try the Elon Starter Kit and discover a better way to consume hemp.