Hemps Role in History.
Hemp is believed to be the first agricultural crop, going back some 10,000 years. Fabric excavated in what was once Mesopotamia (now modern day Iraq and Iran), was shown to be at least 10,000 years old, dating back to 8,000 B.C. Thank you carbon dating!
Hemp has long been cultivated and used to make fabric, paper and food as well as for medicinal purposes. China is currently the largest producer of hemp globally with 70 percent of the market. It is also the country that has the longest record for continuous cultivation of hemp - 6,000 years. Given its lineage, one boggles at the fact hemp is being treated as an agricultural newcomer.
While some experts believe Vikings brought hemp to North America, its first recorded presence was here was approximately 1609 - 1611 and was grown for rope, paper, lamp oil, textiles and fabric. Several of the United States’ Founding Fathers farmed hemp, and the crop was mandatorily grown well into the late 1700’s.
As an example of where hemp remaining legal could have taken us, in the 1930’s Henry Ford began developing a hemp-derived car that could also run on hemp and vegetable oil. The only steel found in his vehicle, showcased in 1941 was in its frame, The panels formed from a combination of cellulose fibers derived from hemp, sisal and wheat straw with a resin binder, was determined to be 10 times stronger than steel.
Ford's visionary approach included understanding that fuel could be created from renewable crops such as corn, potatoes and hemp oil. As is often the case, the booming petroleum industry had the final say and Ford’s potentially environmentally friendly car was put on ice.
The 1936 film, “Reefer Madness” melodramatically encapsulated the story of myriad evils that befell high schoolers engaged in marijuana use. This culturally iconic film defined the nation’s view of cannabis as the gateway to everything from addiction and suicide and murder, instilling fear in a generation that then passed that on for decades. The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 made it illegal federally to possess and transfer cannabis across state lines.
Thanks to the Nixon Administration, hemp’s role in U.., agriculture took its final gasping breath with the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, when it was classified the same as marijuana, even though hemp contains very low THC, the psychoactive properties the government sought to control.
With the stroke of a pen, hemp went into the trash heap, at least for a time. Meanwhile, marijuana found a niche in the black market. Changing attitudes and a reemerging understanding of hemp’s value in manufacturing, sustainability and as new sources for food, its future is looking up. With the passage of the Farm Bill of 2018, we’ve entered a new era of moving from all that can be imagined into creating a new reality. Hemp is the new frontier and Best Cali Hemp is thrilled to be an industry leader.