When you look at the history of hemp farming, you will see there is a long history surrounding this versatile and renewable natural resource. Some sources refer to Hemp cultivation dating back as early as 373 BC. Records tell a tale of a Celtic princess who taught women to sew and weave baskets made with hemp. Hemp fibers are considered to be one of the most durable fibers available.
In The Beginning
In Great Britain, Early historian records provide evidence of hemp cultivation dating back as early as 800 AD. Being so versatile hemp has been used for a wide range of products satisfying many needs in a broad range of industries. Everything from building materials, ropes and clothing, to medicine and beauty products. It became a very valuable commodity.
In Fact, For many years hemp was viewed as a form of legal tender, you could even pay your property tax bill with it. Could you imagine doing that today.
By The 16th Century
During the 16th century Henry VIII was using hemp as a reliable and plentiful source for building materials to build battleships for The British Navel Fleet. Along with the ship itself, hemp was used to make sails, logs, ropes, maps and more. Many paper products, including the paper used to make some the first bibles, were all made from hemp.
On to the 17th century, farmers during this time period, at least in Virginia, Massachusetts and Connecticut, were required by law to plant a certain percentage of their fields with cannabis plants to assure that the Navy Fleet had a plentiful supply. Failure to comply could result in punishment up to, and including some time in jail.
Later, Henry Ford, Owner of Ford Motor Company in Michigan, saw the power of using hemp. By utilizing biomass conversion
For those that don’t know, Biomass is organic matter. Biomass conversion is the process of turning that matter into fuel. Many other crops are converted to usable fuels using this process. For example ethanol is made from corn or sugarcane.
Henry Ford’s first car was constructed to run on hemp fuel and somebody parts were made from the fibers.
The Hemp industry was a very lucrative one for a very long time. Major changes were put into motion when a new law was passed on August 2, 1937.
This law is called Marijuana Tax Act 1937. This change required farmers to pay a new set if taxes when they sell any cannabis crop. Added excise, transfer and occupational taxes we assessed.
As my dad would say “They were taxed to death”. making it far to expensive for most farmers to stay in business.
This forced the Navy to find a new source for supplying the fleet. They began importing Manila hemp from the Philippines.
On December 7, 1941, The United States Naval Base near Honolulu, Hawaii was attacked by the Imperial Japanese Air Service. This attack had devastating effect on the United States. Among many other things that was effected, was the importation of the much-needed hemp supply. With importing now shut down and the country so dependent on hemp the government had to try to find a way to get local farmers to start growing it again
This led to the making of a film encouraging farmers to start growing hemp again to aid in the war efforts.
Additionally, A private company was formed called War Hemp Industries, This company was a processing plant with contracts and operations that covered one million acres across the Midwest in to an abundant supply. They would cultivate, harvest and process hemp into much needs supplies.
After the war the plant was shut down.
One thing that you can count on is change. There were yet more changes to come. Do to a single gene distinguishing the difference in the two, Hemp and marijuana have been classified as two distinct varieties. Yet all cannabis plants are considered to be a controlled substance by the government, not allowing the government to consider the differences in the plants.
Federal legislation is being update on a regular basis, and most of the individual states are considering a range of new legislation regarding the cultivation and utilization of the cannabis plant. Recent changes have allowing some universities and the state department of agriculture to being growing and conducting research. There are an estimated 25,000 products, spanning many markets. I feel confident that there are many hidden uses that we have yet to discover.
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