Hemp, historically speaking

In December, with much fanfare, the 2018 Farm Bill was passed and hemp became legal. Again. And as long as it contains no more than 0.3% THC. That’s good news. Of course it is. But, hemp was once a cornerstone of American agriculture. The history of hemp is long and varied. It’s probably one of the oldest domesticated crops and has myriad uses. From food to fuel to fiber, hemp is a powerhouse that fell out of favor in the United States because of Reefer Madness.

CBD from hemp

But, let’s be clear, CBD from hemp doesn’t get you high as it doesn’t contain THC. It does seem to have medicinal properties, however, that can help rebalance our systems when used properly. In fact, in 1964 Raphael Macheoulan, an Israeli professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, identified what has come to be known as the endocannabinoid receptor system present in mammals. In short, he determined that the human body in particular has cells that are receptive to the cannabinoids present in hemp and cannabis.

What good is CBD?

That’s a loaded question and it depends on whom you ask. As early as 8,000 BC, hemp chord was used for making pottery. In 6,000 BC, the Chinese used it as a source of nutrition. Textiles came next around 4,000 BC, and it was used medicinally around 2,737.

As knowledge of hemp spread, it became clear it had many uses and it grew like, well a weed; its presence ubiquitous in everyday life. Eventually, hemp made it to America in the early 1600s and farmers grew it to produce paper, ropes, lamp fuel and clothing. By the 1700s, famers were required by law to grow hemp as an agricultural staple.

CBD fell out of favor, why?

Several reasons really, the most notable was Reefer Madness, or a war on drugs that somehow lumped hemp in with marijuana even though they are distant cousins and CBD from hemp is nonpsychoactive.

Other reasons were cotton and lumber. Even though hemp is cheaper to produce and can go farther than trees and cotton, money changed hands and the rest is history, if I may be so trite.

Today, CBD is making a comeback. Although not as quickly as some would like, passing the 2018 Farm Bill is helping take some of the onus off CBD and could allow for more research into its medicinal and practical uses. Really, hemp can be used for so much and could help the agricultural economy. The potential is there, it just needs to be tapped.

Hemp is unique and has an interesting history. But rather than try to fit the history of hemp in a blog using just words, I’m going to let this infographic encapsulate hemp’s varied past. However, if you’d like a more wordy description, check out the Thistle.

History of hemp.jpg