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The History of Hemp: 10,000 Years Ago, Christopher Columbus, and Beyond.

Hemp is one of the oldest known agricultural plants used by mankind.  For over 10,000 years, civilizations have been cultivating Hemp for several uses such as textiles and paper.  It is even the reason the European settlers such as Christopher Columbus were able to make their voyage.  More recently, people use the valuable chemicals found in hemp, called Phytocannabinoids, or “plant” cannabinoids, such as CBD, CBD, CBN, and CBC for a variety of benefits.

Hemp’s origins 10,000 years ago

Long before the discovery of CBD, hemp’s origins trace back 10,000 years to China during the Neolithic Age, or “New Stone Age”, where hemp fiber was used as textiles and paper.  Textiles are cloth or goods produced by weaving, felting, or knitting, such as fiber or yarn.

Remember, 10,000 years ago there was no gas Furnaces or electric heaters inside your home to stay warm, no Walmart or Targets for clothing or jackets, no Bed Bath & Beyond to for Blankets, and no Office Depots for Paper.  Hemp was an extremely valuable commodity and widely used for shelter and survival.

How Christopher Columbus used Hemp

What do hemp and Christopher Columbus have to do with each other?  Believe it or not, hemp is the reason we are living in the USA right now.  Hemp contributed directly to Christopher Columbus’ ability to make his historical voyage to America and all of the other first settlers including the Pilgrims.    To explain, the shipping industry relied on hemp to make canvases for sails and ropes to hold most everything in place. Canvas is a durable, heavy-duty woven fabric used to make tents and sails (to name a few).  Hemp’s durability as a textile made it an ideal solution and without ropes and sails, boats at that time would not have made it across the ocean.

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Fun Facts about Hemp! Did you know?

The term “canvas” comes from the Greek word κάνναβις (cannabis)

Christopher Columbus’ ships each carried 80 tons of hemp sails, rope, and riggings.

Hemp helped us win WWII

Hemp became a huge crop in the USA during WWII.  It was used for clothing, ropes, parachutes, and to make shelter such as tents.  Because of the immense need of these items, there became a shortage of Hemp.  The United States government ran a campaign called “Hemp for Victory” which pushed farmers to grow this super plant all over the USA to keep up with the military demands.  Some say that Hemp contributed to the USA winning WWII.

Hemp helped start the Enlightenment Era

Hemp also contributed to the ability to share information nationwide.  It became an extremely popular paper source for books, magazines, and newspapers.  The ability to share information helped this country collaborate ideas, information, and keep up to date with news for the first time.  This because the beginning of the Enlightenment Era.  Ben Franklin, was a huge contributor to the Enlightenment movement and owned one of the very first paper mills in the United States which processed Hemp into paper every day.

Hemp vs. Cotton

An acre of hemp produces 2-3 times as much fiber as flax or cotton.  For most things, hemp was preferred to cotton because its stronger, more absorbent, and much more durable.   In 1840, John Baxter wrote, “hemp will bleach whiter than cotton or flax, and it makes the finest fabrics, from cambric, to lace, to good shirting, and far cheaper than both.” Cotton is also the most heavily pesticide-sprayed crop in the USA.  Hemp, however, requires no pesticides (even though some formers still use them).

Hemp &  CBD

Over the last 100 years, scientists discovered that hemp contained chemicals called Phytocannabinoids such as CBD, which is now used by millions of Americans and the primary ingredient in a Pharmaceutical used to treat seizures such as Epidiolex.  In 2018, the Farm Bill legalized the use of hemp and hemp derived products.  With science evolved, we now had the technology to extract 111 different Phytocannabinoids and make them into a variety of products such as Whole Plant Hemp Oil, CBD Gummies, Topicals and More.

Where would we be today without hemp? 

Who knows?  Maybe we’d still be in Europe or another country.  Maybe we’d be just getting to the United States for the first time.   Maybe we’d only be a few years behind.  We’ll never really know for sure, but we do know that Hemp has played a valuable role in History and without it, the world would be a different place.