The History of Hemp

The History of Hemp: Thousands of Years of Growing Hemp

Scientists believe that the history of hemp is as old as well…dinosaurs. Only while dinosaurs went extinct, hemp kept on going strong! Hemp is said to be one of the first plants humans ever cultivated. In ancient civilizations, the history of hemp developed simultaneously in different continents at the same time.

Hemp History BCE.

8,000BC: Archeologists have found evidence that hemp Fiber was used in Oki Islands (close to Japan) at least in 8000BC. It could have been used even earlier!

4000BC: There’s evidence of hemp’s use in China. Traces of fiber have shown up in traditional Yangshao pottery.

900BC: Evidence of hemp paper in the Arabian Peninsula.

600BC: Archeologists note that hemp rope was used in Russia at this time.

100BC: England makes hemp ropes.

oki islands history of hemp first hemp

History of Hemp CE.

1100s: The first paper currency in China

1588: An English ship defeats the Spanish Armada at sea. Historians estimate it had about 10,000 acres worth of cultivated hemp on board in the form of sails, ropes etc.

1632: The Virginia Assembly required farmers to dedicate some of their acreage to growing either hemp or flax. Other states followed suit.

1700s: Growing hemp domestically became more important in America. This is because America and the British began to have worsening relations, resulting in boycotts on exports and less trade between the two lands. Thus, America could no longer rely on the British for its hemp supply. .

History of Hemp ropes navy

1767: The Virginia Gazette featured a front-page article that taught farmers on how to grow hemp.

1776: Kentucky grows hemp as a major cash crop. Hemp paper is used for the first draft of one of the most important documents in America: The Declaration of Independence.

1770-1784: Hemp plays a major role in the American Revolution. The navy uses hemp to make sails, ropes and other naval wartime materials, thus the push to grow domestic hemp gets even stronger.

1785: Virginia’s hemp product had reached nearly 5,000 tons a year! But the war had ended and the demand for hemp began to slow down.

1786:  America continues the tradition of drafting official documents on hemp paper and writes the first draft of the Constitution on it!

1914: Andrew Jackson’s portrait goes on the new 10-dollar bill. The material of the bill also changes and thus, America’s first hemp paper currency was born.

1919: The prohibition against alcohol began. The US government encouraged people to use hemp’s cousin, marijuana, instead.

1937: The US government began the prohibition against marijuana.

1942: US government makes film “Hemp for Victory” to encourage farmers to grow hemp in order to help the United States win World War II. Again, hemp was a very important part of wartime success.

history of hemp trade map

The Modern History of Hemp

1942: Henry Ford completes construction on a car made out of hemp plastic. He claims the car was “10 times stronger than steel”. Hemp fuel also powers the car!

1930s-50s: Harry J. Anslinger became one of the leaders of the “anti-marijuana” and anti-hemp” propaganda. Though vehemently denied, conspiracy theorists believe the anti-cannabis movement was backed by producers of synthetic materials which had a vested interest in eliminating industrial hemp.

1957: Wisconsin grows the last pre-prohibition industrial hemp fields in the USA.

1962-62: Harry J. Anslinger became the United States Representative to the United Nations Narcotics Commission. As a result, he can wield American influence and power to spread the anti-cannabis movement to the UN member states.

1982: Germany banned hemp for the first time.

1993: Great Britain ended its hemp prohibition.

1994: Canada began licensing hemp crops for research.

1995: Director Anthony Clarke makes the low budget documentary, one of the first of many documentaries on the topic.

1995: Germany lifted its hemp ban.

Hemp in the New Century

2004: Hemp foods & body care products are legally allowed to be sold in the United States as per a ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court. However, these products are all made from imported hemp, keeping American farmers from benefiting from the demand.

2007: North Dakota issues the first farming license to grow industrial hemp.

2013: Further, another state joins the end of prohibition: in Springfield, Colorado Ryan Loflin plants 55-acres of hemp.

2013: The first Hemp Amendment to the legislation surrounding growing of industrial hemp happens in more than fifty years. Thus, the amendment was part of the farm bill and allowed farmers to grow hemp for academic or research purposes.

2014: $620 million in hemp product sales (including clothing, bags, etc, as well as food or supplements) in the United States. Further, imported hemp makes up a large percentage of sales.

2014: Colorado grants first hemp growing license.

2017: 15 states got on the hemp train, enacting pro-hemp legislation. This legislation also allows includes allows CBD.

These states are:





North Dakota


New York


South Carolina




West Virginia



2018: The Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies certified the first American-bred seed, a seed from Fort Collins, Colorado company, New West Genetics. Also, the seed “ELITE hemp genetics” as it will be trademarked is less than 0.3% THC.

2018: The 2018 Farm Bill includes legalizing industrial hemp under the Hemp Farming Act. If overturned, this could end a long federal hemp prohibition.

The Future of Hemp

This is the history of hemp, but what about hemp’s future? We’re the only ones who can ensure that hemp has a bright and legal future. Take part in the hemp revolution by staying up-to-date with the latest hemp news, advocating whenever possible, and educating others on the goodness of hemp!