Many people today may not know much about the hemp crop and consider it a recent innovation. However, the truth is that until around 100 years ago hemp was one of the most universally used and significant crops in human history. Its origin can be traced as far back as 8000 BCE where a team of archaeologists discovered a piece of hemp fabric in ancient Mesopotamia, currently modern-day Iraq/Iran. The cultivation of this crop was not just secluded to the Middle East. China has cultivated hemp for nearly 6000 years; Spain, Russia, Chile, and France have also cultivated the crop for hundreds of years.
As a testament to its adaptability hemp has been used for a variety of purposes throughout human history. In 150 BCE the Chinese used hemp to create paper, the leaves and seeds were also lauded for their medicinal properties and used in a variety of ancient medicines. In the middle ages Hemp would see a resurgence once again when its strength when used as canvas and rope on sailing ships became apparent. The crop became so widely used that in 1535 king Henry the VIII passed a law requiring all landowners to reserve a portion of their land to produce hemp.
Hemp would continue to be a dominant crop up until the 1930s. In 1937 because of heavy corporate lobbying on the part of synthetic textile companies the production of hemp would be outlawed in the U.S. The following year Canada would follow suit and ban its production as well. This ban would remain in place until 2014 where the U.S allowed hemp production on an experimental basis. Finally, in 2018 the production of hemp within the U.S was federally legalized.
The history of hemp is a long and storied one. A crop whose uses have been varied for thousands of years. From cloth in ancient Mesopotamia to medicine in China, all the way to the piece of paper our nation's Declaration of Independence was written on. The history of hemp has been truly remarkable.