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The hemp plant is one of the world’s oldest agricultural crops and evidence of its cultivation and use dates back over 12,000 years – as far back as the Stone Age. What is Hemp?
By Admins (from 31/07/2013 @ 09:01:40, in en - Science and Society, read 1106 times)

In fact, early humans depended on hemp plants in order to fulfill an array of basic necessities such as clothes, food, fabrics, rope, paper and more. Even today, hemp is grown and cultivated in over 30 countries for much of the same uses that early human civilizations relied on the hemp plant for.

Cannabis sativa

The term ‘hemp’ refers to distinct strains of the Cannabis sativa plant that contain low levels of THC – usually less than 0.3%. Of the 2000 known varieties of cannabis plants, approximately 90% contain trace levels of THC and are useful only for their hemp seeds and fibers. The minimal levels of THC render hemp plants useless for the psychoactive and recreational purposes that cannabis plants are commonly associated with.

Hemp is highly regarded as an agricultural crop for a number of reasons. In addition to its wide range of applications from food to clothes, hemp is one of the fastest growing biomasses known – capable of producing up to 25 tonnes of dry matter per hectare per year. Hemp plants are also environmentally friendly, requiring no herbicides and few pesticides. As well, hemp is a very robust crop and can be grown in diverse soil and climate conditions.

The History of Hemp

Archaeological evidence of hemp use dates back to the Neolithic Age in China, where imprints of hemp fiber were discovered on Yangshao culture pottery from the 5th century B.C. Ancient Chinese civilizations would later use hemp to make clothes, shoes, ropes and an early form of paper.

Eventually, the use of hemp spread to other parts of the developing world. In the Princeton University Press publication entitled Prehistoric Textiles (1992), textile expert Elizabeth Wayland Barber summarizes the historical evidence that Cannabis sativa, “grew and was known in the Neolithic period all across the northern latitudes, from Europe (Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Romania, the Ukraine) to East Asia (Tibet and China),” but, “textile use of Cannabis sativa does not surface for certain in the West until relatively late, namely the Iron Age.”

Hemp was grown and cultivated in Europe mainly for its fibers, and was used for ropes on many ships, including those of Christopher Columbus. The famous explorer was known to carry hempseed on his ships in case of shipwreck, in order to grow raw materials and for use as a food source.

Early settlers in North America brought hemp with them and must-grow laws were eventually enacted that forced all farmers to grow the crop. In fact, the first laws in America to ever address the cannabis plant was a must-grow law enacted in 1619, which forced all settlers in Jamestown Colony, Virginia to grow the plant, since it was such an essential agricultural crop at the time. Similar laws were put in place over the next 200 years, during which time hemp even became a legal tender crop.

Hemp in the US

Hemp was highly regarded by many historic Americans of the time. George Washington grew hemp at Mount Vernon as one of his three primary crops and Benjamin Franklin started one of the first American paper mills by making paper exclusively out of cannabis hemp. Domestic production of hemp flourished until sometime after the Civil War when it began to be replaced by the production of newer materials that were less labor intensive, such as cotton.
The hemp crop received renewed interest during World War II following the 1942 production of a short film entitled Hemp for Victory, which promoted hemp as a necessary crop to win the war. Hemp was used extensively during the war to create textiles such as uniforms, canvas and rope.
 
Modern Day Uses

Hemp is grown in countries all over the world and is used for a wide array of industrial purposes, including paper, textiles, clothing, biodegradable plastics, construction, body products, health food and bio-fuel.

In 1938, Popular Mechanics Magazine published an article about hemp entitled The New Billion Dollar Crop, which described the usefulness of hemp in producing over 25,000 different products, ranging from dynamite to cellophane. Oddly enough, free production of hemp had already been made illegal a year earlier through the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937.

To this day, hemp remains illegal to grow under U.S. federal law, due to its inherent similarity to the marijuana plant. However, U.S. retailers and manufacturers import approximately 1.9 million pounds of hemp fiber, 450,000 pounds of hemp seeds, and 331 pounds of hempseed oil annually from Canada and other countries that regulate the farming of hemp.

Source: truthonpot.com

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