Hemp flower and cannabis are plants which both belong to the Cannabis Sativa-L species. The main difference between the two plants is that hemp contains a higher content of the cannabidiol (CBD) which has beneficial health properties and a lower content (less than 0.3%) of the harmful cannabinoid THC. Different hemp flower products are on the market today as detailed on https://cheefbotanicals.com/cbd-products/cbd-flower/
Asian and the Middle East Origins
- There is evidence that hemp was cultivated thousands of years ago. It seems to have originated in Asia and the Middle East. Remains of cloth and textiles have been found in the remains of the Ancient Civilizations of Mesopotamia. Excavated material has been dated to before 8000 BCE. It is recorded that a Chinese Emperor called Sheng Nung started using it to cure ailments like gout rheumatism and on patients suffering from memory loss.
- From Asia, the plant spread, first to Europe and then to South America; carried there by immigrants to ”The New World”. However, it would be interesting to look at some highlights in its history before the modern world.
- Two centuries before the birth of Christ, the followers of Hindu religion in India revered hemp. So revered was it the Hindu ‘adherents’ referred to it as ‘sacred grass’.
- Around 100 BC, the paper was made from hemp by the Chinese, who also used it for textiles. The first printed bible, the Gutenberg Bible, was printed on paper made from hemp as commonly believed. This was in the 13th century.
Origins of Hemp in America and Europe
- From about 500 BCE, the plant spread across Europe. During this time roamed tribes of ‘uncivilized’ Vandals, Franks and Saxons roamed in Europe. These tribes from Germany, France, Russia, and Central Europe used hemp for pottery, cloth and textiles.
- Other accounts say the plant was the source material used to make sails for English ships. This was probably the reason why, in 1533, King Henry VII of England, in recognition of its immense contribution to the economy, passed laws to make the growing of hemp mandatory. Two of America’s Presidents are on record as having advocated for its cultivation. Some historians even claim that the American Declaration of Independence was written on paper made from hemp.
- In the mid-19th century, an American President, Abraham Lincoln, was using hemp oil for domestic heating and lights. Also, in the second half of the 19th century, Queen Victoria of Great Britain is reported to have used hemp as a cure for menstrual cramps.
- In 1916, the USDA published a paper in which it said that studies had shown that acre for acre, hemp produced four times more paper than other trees. In the early part of the 20th century, hemp had unfortunate consequences for Mexicans trying to immigrate to the USA. It became an excuse and from that time onwards the word ‘marijuana’ replaced the word ‘cannabis’ to associate it with the Mexicans.
- In 1937, without distinguishing between hemp and cannabis, America passed the Tax Act to begin taxing the plant. This was due to pressure from powerful families who felt hemp and cannabis posed a threat to their business.
During the Second World War 1939-1945, the American Government encouraged the cultivation of hemp because it was a component in many products needed for the war effort. In 1957, the last seeds were planted in the US State of Wisconsin.
The fact that cannabis and to lesser extent hemp caused a euphoric ‘high’ when smoked or ingested had been known for centuries but the causative components were not known.
Discovery of Medical Benefits
In 1963, a breakthrough was made. A doctor named Dr. Raphael Mechoolam identified the stereochemistry of CBD. In 1964 he identified the stereochemistry of THC. His work made it possible to link the euphoric effects directly to THC only.
In 1978, the US state of New Mexico passed a bill, the Controlled Substances Therapeutic Research Act, which recognized the beneficial medical properties of CBD. The 1978 bill provoked a lot of debate. Understandably, there were many opponents to the bill and though some legislators in other states tried to sponsor similar bills in their states they were not successful.
The significance and importance of the 1978 New Mexico bill in the history of hemp and CBD was the widespread interest it aroused in scientists and researchers. No longer was a scientific study in this remarkable plant restricted to a scattered few but research programs started to emerge in Universities and Colleges.
Treatment of Epilepsy
In the late 70s and early 80s, Dr. Mechoulam and others researched the possibilities of using hemp extract CBD in the treatment of epilepsy. Progress continued in 1996 by the passing of proposition 215 in the US State of California. This legalized marijuana. Soon after, other states followed.
Legalization of Marijuana
This legalization of marijuana had important effects on the history of the hemp industry. First, the debate provoked by the legalization gave the whole issue a wider audience. Second, cannabis has always had a stigma attached to it. It is widely considered a very undesirable substance probably because of the euphoric state it causes in users. Now, in the minds of many, cannabis and hemp are the same thing. So, the legalization, by ‘absolving’ marijuana, also indirectly ‘absolved’ hemp.
The Importation of Hemp Seeds into the USA
In the 1990s, the US Government resumed the importation of hemp seeds and encouraged its cultivation. During the same decade, the US Department of Health filed a patent on cannabinoids. In 2007, hemp growing licenses were issued to a few farmers in the American State of Dakota. This was the first in more than half a century.
From all the evidence provided in this article, it is clear that hemp has had a long and interesting history. The plant is now being used in many countries around the world from the medical, stock feed, appetizer, and skincare. The future certainly looks brighter for the wonder plant.