Booze & Drugs
Cannabis Hemp - The History You Were Never Told
By John Birrenbach
The world history of commercial cannabis hemp or marijuana
cannabis hemp has a history that goes back to prehistoric time. Cannabis hemp
has been found in tombs dating back to 8,000 B.C.
Hemp Travels The World:
1. 8500BC China
3. 500BC Africa - Asia
4. 500AD Europe
5. 1495 N. America
6. 1545 S America
7. 1992 Australia
8. 1993 England
Cannabis use can be documented as far back as 2700 BC(1) in
ancient Chinese writings. These writings tell us that cannabis was used by the
Chinese for a variety of uses. These included fiber, oil and as a medicine. By
450 BC history tells us that hemp was being cultivated in the Mid-East region.
From Afghanistan to Egypt hemp was cultivated for its fiber and drugs. It
appears that hemp was first introduced into Europe around 500-1000 AD. It is
known that hemp was in wide cultivation in Europe by the sixteenth century. It
was cultivated for its fiber and its seed. The seed was cooked with barley and
other grains and eaten. In 1537 Dioscorides called the plant Cannabis Sativa,
the scientific name that stands today as its true name. He noted its use in
"the stoutest cords" and also its medicinal properties(2). Hemp was introduced
into Chile about 1545(3) where it was grown for fiber. Hemp was introduced in
New England soon after the Puritan immigrants settled, noting that it grew
"twice so high(4)." In Virginia the early legislature passed many acts to
promote the hemp industry. Before the revolution hemp seems to have flourished
in the area around Lancaster PA. Hemp was first grown in Kentucky in 1775(5).
In 1802 two extensive Ropewalks were built in Lexington Kentucky. There was
also announced a machine that could break "eight thousand weight of hemp per
day,"(6) a huge quantity for the time. Hemp spread to other states including
Missouri by 1835, Champaign IL by 1875, Nebraska by 1887, California by
1912(7), Minnesota by 1880(8), Wisconsin and Iowa by the early 1920s. The
cultivation of hemp was stalled by federal action in 1937 by the imposition of
a heavy tax on producers known as the Marijuana Tax Act. By 1940 the US
government reduced the tax so production could take place during WW II. After
WW II, with the heavy tax, cultivation declined until 1968 when the last legal
crop was grown in Minnesota.(9)
(1) Yearbook of the Dept. of Agriculture, L Dewey,
pg 296, 1913.
(2) Dioscorides. Medica Materia li bri sex, pg 147, 1537.
(3) Husbands, Jose D, US Dept. of Agriculture, Bureau of Plant Industry,
Bulletin #153, pg 42, 1909.
(4) Yearbook of the Dept. of Agriculture, L
Dewey, pg 291, 1913.
(5) Moore, Brent. A study of the past, the present and
future of the hemp industry in Kentucky, pg 16, 1905.
(6) Michaux, Andre,
Travels to the west of the Alleghenies, pg 152, 1805.
(7) Yearbook of the
Dept. of Agriculture, L Dewey, pg 293, 1913.
(8) Schoenrock Ruth, Hemp in
Minnesota During the war time emergency, pg 15, 1966.
(9) Robinson, Bob
Dr., Hemp experimenter at U of MN 1960-1968.