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The History Of Hemp: From Everyday Use, to Prohibition, and Back

The History of Hemp: From Everyday Use, to Prohibition, and Back Again

Hemp cultivation began around 8,000 B.C. in modern-day Taiwan. The plant conditioned the soil and absorbed excess water, preventing crops from rotting. Hemp’s tall stalks shaded crops and livestock. Its sprawling root system interlaced with the roots of other plants, giving them additional support. Hemp fiber is highly durable, and the plant produces up to four times as much fiber per acre as the pine tree.

The Chinese added clothing and shoes to the growing list of uses for hemp. They also included it in their diets after learning that it contains vitamins, protein, and essential fatty acids. These fats can be pressed from the plant to render oils and create salves.

By 2737 B.C., the Chinese had discovered medicinal properties of hemp. Emperor Shen-Nung made tea from the oily seeds of the plant that effectively treated pain. He applied hemp oil to the skin to heal rashes. Shen-Nung also treated rheumatoid arthritis, constipation, malaria, and female reproductive issues with the plant. People today use cannabinoids found in hemp, like CBD, to self-treat some of the same issues that Shen-Nung healed in ancient times.

Before the cultivation of cotton, hemp was the primary material for paper and clothing. It was so integral to society that King Henry VIII required hemp growth by law. It was grown in young America, and by the 1850s, it was widely prescribed to treat illnesses of the body and mind.

By the turn of the century, a slang term had been coined for cannabis: “marijuana.” The term appeared in publications owned by William Randolph Hearst. Along with bureaucrat Harry J. Anslinger, Hearst aggravated racial tension toward immigrants and minorities. The pair used stereotypes, fear mongering, and sensationalism to turn public opinion away from cannabis. Their efforts benefitted pharmaceutical and synthetic fiber companies.

The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 outlawed all cannabis plants, including hemp. WWII saw a brief surge of legal cultivation to support the war; however, industrial growth was banned once again by the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Cannabis became a Schedule I drug — one with “high abuse potential” and “no health benefits.”

The 2014 U.S. Farm Bill allows hemp cultivation in pro-hemp states. Supplements like CBD are completely legal if they are derived from hemp. While CBD supplements are the most popular use for hemp at the moment, the plant is in high demand for other items, such as textiles, plastics, cosmetics, and fuels.

The Hemp Farming Act 2018 is trying to bring hemp back to a regular farming commodity and to get cannabis/hemp with less than 0.03% THC taken off of the Schedule l Control Substance list.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is being studied, tested, prescribed, and used to treat a plethora of ailments already. Many people are self medicating with it because it seemingly offers alternatives to drugs that would otherwise have unfavorable side effects. With a supposed Opioid crisis happening, doctors are taking pain medicines from some people who really need them to have a better quality of life. Where can they turn? CBD seems to be helping people alleviate pain from arthritis, fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s disease, and even with some cancer or cancer treatment side effects, like pain and nausea. People are reporting help with anxiety, PTSD, OCD, panic attacks, depression and so much more. The studies cannot keep up but hopefully taking hemp off of the Schedule l Control Substance list will open up more funding for more proof of the amazing healing properties of CBD and the other cannabinoids inside of cannabis.