Industrial Hemp is an ancient crop, which has a multitude of diverse uses. The earliest uses of Hemp can be traced back to the Sumerians and probably even earlier in man’s unrecorded history. Industrial Hemp is not Marijuana though the two plants are of the same family and have passing resemblance to one another. Industrial Hemp’s myriad uses are being rediscovered and at the forefront of research in diverse fields. I will be attempting to dispel some of the myth, and providing history and proven uses of this amazing plant.
The scientific name for industrial hemp is Cannabis sativa; which, is one of the strains of marijuana (Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis). The major difference in the different strains is the almost complete lack of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in the industrial hemp strain. Another prominent feature is the industrial hemp grows tall and narrow whereas the psychoactive and medicinal strains grow short and bushy with large flowering buds. Many governments worldwide recognize this difference and allow the cultivation of industrial hemp even where marijuana is not legal. Unfortunately the United States of America is not one of those countries yet. But many in roads to legal cultivation are being made. (Andrews 10)
Historically industrial hemp has been grown on every continent with the exceptions of Antarctica and Greenland due to the harshness of their respective climates. Hemp usage has been archeologically dated to the Neolithic Era; with, pottery imprinted with hemp fiber found dating to the fifth millennium B.C. Hemp is believed to have been cultivated by man for over 12,000 years. The earliest hemp paper that survives to the present day is from the Western Han Dynasty in China. Hemp has been used historically for clothing, cordage, food, bedding, construction, and paints among many other items. In colonial times Virginia farmers were required by law to grow hemp. (Robinson 23-25)
“Until the 20th Century 80% of all textiles and fabrics for clothing, tents, bed sheets and linens, rugs, drapes, quilts, towels, diapers, etc. Even our flags were from cannabis fibers. Best of all they come pesticide free! 75-90% of all paper in the world was made with cannabis hemp fiber including paper for books, Bibles, maps, paper money, stocks & bonds, newspaper, etc. Hemp paper lasted 50 to 100 times longer.” (DigitalHemp)
Herodotus reported that the inhabitants of Thrace made clothes from hemp fibers. It is related that Hiero [3rd century, BC], tyrant of Syracuse, had hemp brought from Rhodanus in order to equip a ship. Pausanias [2nd century BC] mentions that hemp and other textile plants were cultivated in Elide; and Pliny the Elder [Ad 23-79], relates that the sails and cordage of the Roman galleys were made of hemp. In the thirteenth century, garments of hemp were in common use throughout Southern Europe. (Andrews 14)
William Randolph Hearst began a smear campaign against hemp in the 1920s and 1930s. Through...