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Hemp Through the Ages

Hemp Through the Ages

February 4th is National Hemp Day!

Let's take a walk through time to understand how industrial hemp has impacted us through history and appreciate where the industry is today.

Hemp and Ancient Times

Hemp is believed to originate from the regions of modern China and Taiwan. As one of our earliest agricultural crops, hemp was cultivated first for its fiber. Archaeologists have traced hemp usage to as early as 8,000 BCE when they discovered remnants of hemp cord in ancient pottery found in Taiwan. In most ancient societies the plant was used for its properties as a fiber, oil, food, medicine, and narcotic.  

Shinto Priests use Hemp

Hemp plays a special role in the Shinto Religion. Shintoism is about creating holy spaces by raising the vibration rate to drive out negative energy. Shinto temples were built in areas of pure nature that radiated high energy. Hemp’s rapid growth rate was an indication to the followers of Shintoism that the plant processed high vibration. They used hemp in their shrines and ceremonies to drive out evil and low vibrations.

Hemp Comes to America

England demanded raw materials from its colonies. Jamestown settlers grew hemp as mandated by their contract with the Virginia Company. The fibers were shipped to England and brought back as finished products to foster the colony's dependency on England. Once an independent nation, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson promoted growing hemp. Jefferson believed hemp so superior to tobacco he got a patent for his hemp breaking machine in 1815.

Hemp, Diesel, and Ford

At the 1900 World’s Fair German inventor, Rudolph Diesel, debuted his engine powered by vegetable oils and seed oils (including hemp). Diesel envisioned his plant powered engine as an alternative to high polluting engines that would enable independent craftsman to compete in monopolized industries.

During the steel shortage brought on by World War II Henry Ford sought to make a car out of agricultural goods and diversify agriculture into more than just a food source. He formulated a plant-based plastic for the frame of his car, and it ran on bio-fuel like Rudolph Diesel’s engine. His plant plastic recipe is since lost, but it is believed that hemp was a major component along with soybean resin.

Marihuana Tax Act of 1937

Newspaper owner, William Randolph Hearst, campaigned against the hemp industry by spreading misinformation about industrial hemp, coining the term “Marihuana Madness.” Hearst was heavily invested in timber and petroleum and saw industrial hemp as a threat.

Hearst, along with Secretary of Treasury Andrew Mellon and the DuPont Petrochemical Company, pushed the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 through. The Act imposed severe taxes and stiff restrictions on hemp commerce barring the industry from continuing. Not paying the undue tax made anyone in the hemp trade a criminal.

The Marihuana Tax Act was deemed unconstitutional in 1969 in Leary v. United States. The Supreme Court deemed the act violated the Fifth Amendment as you had to incriminate yourself to pay the marijuana tax.

The passage of the Controlled Substances Act in 1970 classified all hemp as a Schedule 1 drug, once again making it illegal.

Hemp in the 21st Century

In 2004 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Hemp Industries Association (HIA) against the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to protect “naturally-occurring... non-psychoactive hemp,” stating “the DEA has no authority to regulate drugs that are not scheduled.”

In 2014 hemp was partially legalized for state-based research. It’s not until The Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act that industrial hemp was fully legalized. Any hemp with less than 0.3 % THC qualifies as industrial hemp and is now regulated by the USDA.

All products with industrial hemp, such as our bath and body care with full spectrum extract and other products with CBD isolate and other cannabinoids, are safe and legal in all 50 states.

By Grace Poat




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