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A Brief History Of Hemp And Its Uses

Today’s society tends to have a knee-jerk reaction when it comes to hemp. One word and everyone is a-twitter with talks of marijuana and the war on drugs. This misinformation has made us lose sight of the fact that using hemp isn’t new to the human race. Since antiquity, it’s been used for food, textiles, medicine, and a host of other purposes. To explore this idea further, we present a brief history of hemp and its uses.

A Brief History of Hemp and Its Uses

India, 2000 BC


Since ancient times, Hinduism has considered five plants sacred: sandalwood, jasmine, neem, Tulasi, and—plot twist!—cannabis. Its use in India was so widespread that when England colonized the country, they released a six-volume report on the subject. Hemp was used to advance one’s spiritual state, as part of the ancient medicinal practice of Ayurveda, as a means of calming nerves, and recreationally.


China, 100 BC


In ancient times, messages were relayed on tablets, cloth, wood, or papyrus. But that all changed during the Han period of Chinese history. By this point, hemp had already been used for thousands of years to make cloth. But in 100 BC, court official Ts’ai Lun decided to crush up hemp fibers in water and leave them out to dry. The result was the world’s first paper.


The United States, 1942


By 1942, hemp had gone from being so important to the US that states were mandated to grow it to being illegal. But people could still study it, and chemist Roger Adams was looking deeply into the plant. In his research, he discovered the first cannabidiol, CBD. His patented method of CBD extraction became the grandfather of modern solvent-based extraction methods like butane and the more preferred ethanol.

These days, we are far more aware of hemp’s benefits than people were in Adams’ day. But looking back at the history of hemp use gives us a greater appreciation for how we use it today.

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