Hemp should not be confused with Marijuana, hemp is a commercially grown species of Cannabis which does not contain sufficient amounts of psychoactive chemicals to induce altered mental states. Hemp stands still grow wild in many parts of the midwest US and throughout the world.
Early Hemp History -
Early hemp history is a happy tale of Humans utilizing one of Earth's great gifts to make their lives more comfortable.....
- Chinese records dating back as far as 4500 BC refer to hemp (called "ma"). Versatile hemp fiber was used by the Chinese in the manufacture of scrolls (such as those which carried the famous writings of Confucius and Lao Tzu), and also in the manufacture of cloth. The Chinese used hemp seed for oil and food.
- Throughout Asia, hemp fiber was commonly employed in cloth and paper. Evidence dating as early as 300BC shows that the Japanese people employed hemp to create "washi" a fine paper and to make kimonos and curtains. The Japanese people featured the hemp leaf as a common motif in many early textiles, a practice which still exists.
- In Europe, archeological evidence from 400BC shows the presence of hemp fibers in textiles from Stuttgart Germany. A Moorish paper mill in Spain used hemp fiber circa 1150AD.
- The noun "canvas" which we are all familiar with as the material used in sails and by painters appears to have derived its name from cannabis (the Latin genus name for hemp) from which it was originally made. Hemp oil was also used as a base for many fine oil paints such as those used to create many great rennaisance masterpieces.
- Hemp fiber was employed by American colonists in the production of bibles and maps. The first two drafts of the Declaration of Independance were written on hemp paper and hemp was used in huge quantities for cordage on ships etc.
Late Hemp History-
Late hemp history is a tragedy which begins as a story of a growing agricultural industry with great promise, then, without warning, is struck down and practically obliterated....
- 1916- USDA bulletin 404, printed on hemp hurd paper, declares that 10,000 acres of hemp has the same paper producing capacity as 40,000 acres of forest (4 times as efficient).
- 1917- The US hemp crop is estimated at 42,000 acres
- 1919- Prohibition destroys corn-alchohol stills which many farmers used to produce low cost fuel. This in turn increased farmers operating costs and forced them to rely on Petroleum distillates.
- 1927- Cyrenus Cole (Iowa) put forth an appropriations bill to research utilization of farm wastes (hemp, etc)for paper. The bill is shot down by the USDA as duplicating studies by the Bureau of Forestry and Farm and trounced by W.R. Hearst who owned vast timbelands and who used the NY times to affect public sentiment. Poor Sen Thomas Schall of Minnesota spoke supporting alternate paper sources to little avail.
- 1930- During the FDR administration, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics was formed under the supervision of US Treasury Dept. Sec. Andrew Mellon (principal banker to large petrochemical firms including Du Pont and large Timber corporations) who appointed his neice's husband (Harry Anslinger) as overseer. Anslinger repeatedly referred to hemp as Marihuana.
- 1932- USDA supports use of Southern Pine for paper. Dupont etc. had patents on tree pulp processing (Chemurgists like Hale,Henry Ford, Thomas Edison looked to farm products replacing timber and oil).
- 1934+ -New processing equip reduces cost of hemp production. Popular Mechanics of 1938 calls hemp a "New Billion Dollar Crop".
- 1936 -Reefer Madness movie depicts people going mad smoking Marihuana.
- 1937 -under FDR, the Marihuana Tax Act makes obtaining a permit to grow hemp very difficult (any stalks with leaves remaining caused problems due to wording of the Act as leaf matter was difficult and unnecessary to completely remove).
- 1937 -Anslinger continues to associate hemp with Marihuana and blames murders etc. on the drug.
- 1937+ -The MTA (Marihuana Tax Act) clamped down on growers in Minn, Ill., and Iowa (working on hemp plastics and papers)
The MTA reiterates that vendors cannot sell unless hemp stalks are completely free of leaves and flowers (this makes processing extremely costly).
- 1937+ -938 farmers in Lake Lillian Minn applied for licences to continue production to fulfill prexisting contracts and never received them, shortly thereafter the buyer was out of business.
The only companies that survived were Military providers.
- 1938+ Du Pont and Co. make a lot of money on petroleum based plastics and tree based paper products
- 1961- The UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs US signator states "this convention shall not apply to the cultivation of Cannabis plant exclusively for industrial purposes- The US ignores and violates the ruling by prohibiting all hemp production.
- 1993 UK lifted ban on hemp production
- 1994 -Canada grants research on agricultural hemp
Some hemp facts-
- Hemp is grown commercially in 29 countries including Germany, France, China and the UK.
- Hemp crops grow so densly that they squelch weed growth and shade the soil thereby keeping it cool and serving to protect delicate essential natural microbial systems. Hemp's deep taproot aerates soil, and natural leaf drop helps to return nutrients to the soil.
- Hemp is a useful rotational crop (used alternatively with other crops to allow soil to replenish itself) leading to increased yields of 10% or more from the following crop.
- Rudolf Diesel is said to have designed his diesel engine to work on vegetable oil from soy or hemp.
- The American Farm bureau endorses commercial hemp research
Parts of the hemp plant and its potential uses-
- Long Bast Fiber (outer stalk)- long stranded fiber stronger than cotton with anti-mildew and anti-microbial properties for extreme durability, can be used as a substitute for fiberglass.
- Short Bast Fiber (hurds, stalk)- medium length fiber with low lignin (resin) content, anti-microbial properties, anti-mildew properties useful for sanitary napkins, diapers, etc.
- Short Core Fiber (inner core fiber)- useful as an absorbant, wood replacement for particle board, mixed with lime to produce a concrete type substance or plaster, useful as a plastic substitute.
- Seed- can be used as a meal for flours etc, cheese, margerine, oil, long shelf life cooking oil, base for soaps, lubricant, paint base, inks.
Another hemp historical timeline
The Hemp Manufacturers and Research Directory
The Hemp Industries Association
The Living Tree Paper Company