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History of Hemp!

One of the most controversial and mass cultivated crop by mundane since the very beginning of the crop cultivation. This article will take you on a dive of hemp history- its origin, growth, its ins and out of the trend through time.



The very variety of Cannabis Sativa plant mostly confused with marijuana, due to almost same composition of it. Hemp is the most versatile plant one can know of. It is particularly cultivated for it’s by products, typically grown and found in northern hemisphere. Hemp is among the first fibre spun into fabric. And thanks to the emerging technology we can now refine hemp into wide variety of products from paper to clothing, paint, textile, and even have started including it into our diets.



From where it all started? Let's delve into it.


Overview: History of Hemp, Source: Pinterest


It’s Origin:


Origin of hemp lies in Central Asia. Hemp fibre was first recorded back in China around 2800 BC then spread across the countries of Europe in the Christian era, till the Middle Ages. In 1500 Chile started planting hemp later followed by North America ten decades later. According to archaeology reports hemp clothes traced back to 8000 BC, hemp seeds and oil around 6000 BC and textile around 4000 BC in China.



The Middle Ages:


Hemp became an important crop of great economic and social value in the Middle Ages Hemp served worlds need for food and fibre so much so that in the 1920s, hemp was in 80% of the world’s clothing.


Marijuana revenue stamps from 1937, Source: Wikipedia


Hemp Crisis:


Crisis for hemp arose in the 1930s, because petroleum based synthetic textile companies saw hemp as a threat and created a propaganda against it. And under their influence US government on passed a prohibitive tax law and levied an occupational excise tax on hemp dealers leading to a ban on hemp production altogether. Following the same the Canadian government prohibited the production of the same under the Opium and Narcotics Act on August 1, 1938.


Eventually the rest of the world followed the same and hemp was scheduled as a narcotic drug and due to which its production, consumption, trade was either prohibited or were highly governed by strict guidelines.



Hemp victory campaign:


This campaign is a major event where hemp made a comeback. During the Second World War, when the Japanese invaded Philippines they cut down hemp supplies to the United States, which in turn made the united states government lift the bans and restrictions on hemp. Multiple farmer were then given permits to grow hemp, to meet the demands of the war. Even after hemp’s contribution in the Second World War the ban on it still continued due to its link with marijuana.



Future of Hemp:


After decades of debates on Hemp, its composition brought it back on board the potential benefits of hemp in medicine acted as a support to this comeback. Year after year the government started lifting restriction on the import and sales of hemp and hemp based products. In 2007 the American government finally issued its first hemp permit, for cultivation of hemp with many different research institutes overseeing them.


Govt-Authorised Bhang Shop in India, Source: Wikimedia Commons


Hemp and India:


Traditional hemp is considered as a holy plant in Hinduism, and its benefits are written in many Vedas. Its association with Ayurveda acts as a connection between hemp and India.


19th century: The regulation of hemp began in the British colonial period, where the government started regulating the cultivation and processing of hemp.

20th century: The international opium convention banned the export of Indian hemp to other countries. Then in 1961, cannabis was classified as hard drugs by the international treaty single convention on narcotic drugs. By the end of this period the Indian government banned the production and sale of cannabis resin and flowers, only allowing the use of leaves and seeds.


Finally in 2019, after a great movement to legalise cannabis, the cultivation of cannabis was made legal in India for industrial and medicinal purpose. Hemp has started to finally make a comeback with its more explored benefits and usage that has ever been seen before.


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