Cannabis, CBD, Hemp… they are all quite the buzz words these days. But did you know that hemp dates back to China in 2700 BCE? Hemp has been cultivated on earth for 10,000+ YEARS!

Since today is National Hemp Day, we want to have a look at the history of hemp and cannabis. To start, ‘cannabis’ genus plant is the umbrella for both marijuana and hemp. The major difference between marijuana and hemp is based on its THC content. Marijuana is typically higher in THC, lower in CBD. Hemp is typically higher in CBD, lower in THC.  Buzzn uses hemp plants (Cannabis S.) high in CBD content. Without further ado: a little graphical look at the differences:

Photo Courtesy of: Healthline

Caveat: The first column technically should say “marijuana,” not “cannabis” since we mentioned that cannabis is essentially the umbrella for both marijuana and hemp. In the first column, you can see that the “marijuana” plant has a higher THC percentage, and lower CBD content. The middle column “Hemp plant,” has a lower THC percentage, and higher CBD content. 

Now that we cleared that up, let’s look back at a little history! 

History of Hemp

There’s no other way to properly show hemp’s use in the world than a proper timeline:(

  • 8,000 BCE: Archaeologists found traces of hemp in modern day China and Taiwan. People used hemp for pottery, food (seed & oil) and natural hemp-based medicine.
  • 2,000 BCE – 800 BCE: Hindu sacred text Atharvaveda (Science of Charms) as “Sacred Grass”, one of the five sacred plants of India
  • 600 BCE: Hemp rope found in southern Russia
  • 500 BCE: Archaeologists found a jar of hemp seed and leaves in Berlin, Germany. Use of hemp continues to spread across northern Europe
  • 200 BCE: Hemp rope found in Greece
  • 100 BCE: China uses hemp to make paper. Hemp rope also found in Britain.
  • 570: A French Queen was buried in hemp clothing
  • 700s BCE: First hemp paper mills appear in China and the Middle East, first people-powered then using animals or water.
  • 850: Vikings use hemp and spread it to Iceland
  • 900: Arabs adopt technology to make hemp paper
  • 1533: King Henry VIII, king of England, fines farmers if they do not raise hemp
  • 1549: Cannabis introduced in South America (Brazil)
  • 1616: Jamestown, first permanent English settlement in the Americas, grows hemp to make ropes, sails, and clothing
  • 1700s: Early laws require American farmers in several colonies to grow hemp
  • 1776: U.S. Founders write early drafts of The Declaration of Independence on hemp paper
  • 1840: Abraham Lincoln uses hemp seed oil to fuel his household lamps.

In the 20th century, the hemp industry saw a peak in consumer interest and the following major events took place:

  • 1916: USDA publishes findings showing hemp produces 4X more paper per acre than trees
  • 1937: The Marijuana Tax Act placed a tax on all cannabis sales (including hemp), heavily discouraging production of hemp
  • 1938: Popular Mechanics writes an article about how hemp could be used in 25,000 different products.
  • 1942: Henry Ford builds an experimental car body made with hemp fiber, which is ten times stronger than steel
  • 1942: USDA initiates the “Hemp for Victory” program – this leads to more than 150,000 acres of hemp production
  • 1957: Farmers plant the last commercial hemp fields in the U.S. in Wisconsin
  • 1970: The Controlled Substances Act classified hemp as an illegal Schedule I drug. Strict regulations imposed on the cultivation of industrial hemp as well as marijuana
  • 1998: The U.S. begins to import food-grade hemp seed and oil.
  • 2004: Ninth Circuit Court decision in Hemp Industries Association vs. DEA permanently protects sales of hemp foods and body care products in the U.S.
  • 2007: The first hemp licenses in over 50 years granted to two North Dakota farmers.
  • 2014: President Obama signed the Farm Bill, which allowed research institutions to start piloting hemp farming.
  • 2015: The Industrial Hemp Farming Act (H.R. 525 and S. 134) introduced in the House and Senate. This act is the first of several attempts to fully legalize hemp.
  • 2016: A Colorado farm has earned the Organic certification from USDA for its hemp
  • 2018: After failed attempts to pass hemp-specific laws, an amendment to the Agricultural Improvement of 2018 (a.k.a. the “Farm Bill”) legalized hemp in the U.S. Pres. Trump signs the bill into law on Dec 20, 2018. This amendment removed the hemp plant, along with any of its seeds and derivatives from the Controlled Substances Act. A huge win for the hemp industry!
History of Cannabis

Hemp and marijuana have some overlap, but marijuana history doesn’t seem to go back as far. Here’s a cool graphic of the history of medical marijuana courtesy of Visual Capitalist.

Photo Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist 

Marijuana for medical use only dates back 6,000 years compared to the 10,000+ Years with hemp. While hemp saw growth, marijuana is still fighting regulations and illegal in many states today. 

Since the early 20th century, there has been a decrease of use in marijuana. More so than that, there became a negative connotation around marijuana use. In the 1900s, marijuana use became illegal in the United States. While regulations around hemp/CBD have let up, marijuana is still fighting the good fight. 

For more science and facts on everything CBD, follow @getbuzzn on Instagram!


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