Hemp is the common name for plants of the entire genus Cannabis, although the
term is often used to refer only to Cannabis strains cultivated for industrial
(non-drug) use.

Industrial hemp has many uses, including paper, textiles, biodegradable plastics,
construction, health food, and fuel. It is one of the fastest growing biomasses
known, and one of the earliest domesticated plants known. Here are 15 fascinating
facts about the less-pleasurable version of weed.

1. All schoolbooks were made from hemp or flax paper until the 1880s.

2. It was legal to pay taxes with hemp in America from 1631 until the
early 1800s. (LA Times. Aug. 12, 1981.)

3. Refusing to grow hemp in America during the 17th and 18th centuries
was against the law! You could be jailed in Virginia for refusing to
grow hemp from 1763 to 1769 (G. M. Herdon. Hemp in Colonial Virginia).

4. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and other founding fathers grew
hemp. (Washington and Jefferson Diaries. Jefferson smuggled hemp seeds
from China to France then to America.)

5. Benjamin Franklin owned one of the first paper mills in America, and
it processed hemp. Also, the War of 1812 was fought over hemp. Napoleon
wanted to cut off Moscow’s export to England.

6. For thousands of years, 90% of all ships’ sails and rope were made
from hemp. The word ‘canvas’ comes from the Middle English word “canevas”
which comes from the Latin word cannabis.

7. 80% of all textiles, fabrics, clothes, linen, drapes, bed sheets, etc.,
were made from hemp until the 1820s, with the introduction of the cotton gin.

8. The first Bibles, maps, charts, Betsy Ross’s flag, the first drafts of the
Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were made from hemp.

9. The first crop grown in many states was hemp. 1850 was a peak year for
Kentucky producing 40,000 tons. Hemp was the largest cash crop until the
20th century.

10. Oldest known records of hemp farming go back 5000 years in China,
although hemp industrialization probably goes back to ancient Egypt.

11. Rembrandt’s, Van Gogh’s, Gainsborough’s, as well as most early canvas
paintings, were principally painted on hemp linen.

12. In 1916, the U.S. Government predicted that by the 1940s all paper would
come from hemp and that no more trees need to be cut down. Government studies
report that 1 acre of hemp equals 4.1 acres of trees. Plans were in the works
to implement such programs.

13. Quality paints and varnishes were made from hemp seed oil until 1937.
58,000 tons of hemp seeds were used in America for paint products in 1935.
(Sherman Williams Paint Co. testimony before the U.S.Congress against the
1937 Marijuana Tax Act.)

14. Henry Ford’s first Model-T was built to run on hemp gasoline and the car
itself was constructed from hemp! On his large estate, Ford was photographed
among his hemp fields. The car, ‘grown from the soil,’ had hemp plastic panels
whose impact strength was 10 times stronger than steel.
(Popular Mechanics, 1941.)

15. In 1938, hemp was called ‘Billion Dollar Crop.’ It was the first time a
cash crop had a business potential to exceed a billion dollars.
(Popular Mechanics, Feb. 1938.)

15 Fascinating Facts About Hemp






Black Stump

International Society
for Ethnopharmacology