This week we celebrated National Hemp Day. Did you know that was even a day? We didn’t either until recently. With more and more people reaping the benefits of growing and consuming hemp, it’s only fitting she should have her own day. And in honor of our favorite plant, we wanted to give you a little backstory about hemp. This week we’ll talk a little about the early origins of hemp, and next week we’ll jump to more recent times. 

So let’s hop in the time machine and see where hemp came from.

The earliest records indicate that industrial hemp was first grown around 10,000 years ago. The plant was first cultivated for its fibre (from the stems) and edible seeds in what is known today as China and Taiwan. Later, hemp was grown in Europe during the Middle Ages, and planted in Chile in the 1500’s. Recorded history has hemp landing in North America a full century later in 1606, where it became the law of the land to grow the crop. 

In addition to being used for its fibrous stems and edible seeds, hemp was used for making woven fabric, paper, and cloth for ship’s sails. Since we humans are a resourceful bunch, we were naturally curious about the flowering part of the plant, and came to find many medicinal and therapeutic uses for it as well. Some early Hindu and religious Persian texts mention hemp as a “Sacred Grass” or “King of Seeds”. 

As we mentioned, in North America in the early 1600’s, nearly everyone was growing hemp. Its many uses, from oil to clothing, made it a good investment of time and resources. Early settlers even built presses for crushing hemp seeds to extract the oil.

Presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson also grew hemp. In fact, Americans were legally bound to grow hemp during the Colonial Era and Early Republic.

Even Henry Ford was a fan. In the early 1900’s, after introducing the Model T, he imagined that we would soon have cars that would run on hemp. So what happened to change the course of hemp’s fate so drastically? Why don’t we have cars fueled by hemp in the year 2020? 

Next week we’ll dive into the more recent history, how we came to be where we are today with this versatile plant, and why we aren’t all driving hemp-fueled Teslas. In the meantime, check out our sources for a lot more about hemp’s history while you enjoy a CBD pre-roll: