The History of CBD and Hemp
Did you know that by vaping cannabidiol (CBD) you’re reviving one of the oldest traditions in human history?
To extract CBD, manufacturers gather and press industrial hemp, a plant that we’ve harvested since before the invention of the wheel.
Last year, when the US passed an updated Farm Bill, it legalized hemp as a production crop. This news wouldn’t have made much of an impact if not for one small caveat: the bill also decriminalized cannabidiol or CBD.
Now, you can add CBD to vape e-juices and oils to aid smoking cessation, lower anxiety, and restore your frazzled sleep cycle. Thanks to the new interest and popularity of CBD, consumers all over the country are interested in the history of this beneficial plant.
But it's important to realize that while hemp is new to us, it’s not new to humankind. Indeed, our ancestors in the US and around the globe have enjoyed the fruits of this plant for thousands of years.
Below, we’ll go over the top ways hemp has influenced humankind, and how we’ve used this incredible plant throughout recorded time.
Hemp Kick Started the Agricultural Revolution
Our history books have bowdlerized our forbearer’s reliance on hemp. To consider cannabis a plant that gets you high is like saying water is the stuff that gets you wet—it doesn’t even remotely comprehend the importance.
Hemp’s origins date back to the beginning of agriculture, about 10,000 BCE. Some scientists posit it could be one of the first crops we ever planted in furrowed fields.
As far as we know, the Chinese have the longest and most robust history with hemp. Without them, much of the old world appreciation for the plant would’ve been lost.
Among the remnants thought to belong to ancient Mesopotamians, archaeologists have found bits of hemp cloth and cord, carbon dated to around 8,000 BCE.
One of China’s most significant inventions, around 150 BC, was paper, made with, you guessed it, hemp. They kept paper a secret technology for centuries until Japanese spies discovered some of their record books in the fifth century AD.
But more importantly, the Pen Ts’ao, a Chinese medicine tome from around 2700 BC, detailed the many healing properties of hemp, which they called “ma.” Here is a list of the ailments it could relieve:
Around 1,200 BC, traders sold hemp seeds along shipping routes through Asia Minor and into Europe, expanding its influence to other parts of the known world.
By the time we have Plato and the Parthenon, hemp had spread throughout mainland Greece, Egypt, and Africa. The ancient world not only knew of hemp, but they also grew and used it.
In the middle ages, hemp factored into many aspects of everyday life in Europe, from England to Russia. Rope and textiles kept denizens clothed and industry thriving. Seeds and oils healed the sick and fed the hungry. And legal and religious texts were recorded on hemp paper. The plant was so interwoven into cultures that living without it seemed nigh impossible.
Hemp Carried Explorers to America
There’s no doubt that hemp grew in America long before Columbus, or the Puritans a century later, moored on her beaches. But we also know that Columbus’s ships—the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria—teemed with hemp products.
When fishing failed, crews munched on hemp seeds. And because hemp fiber is immune to the deterioration caused by salty sea air, ropes and sails were fabricated with hemp fibers. Canvas, utilized for everything from mainsails to pitch tents, was always made from hemp. The word canvas literally translates to “made of hemp.”
The plant was of such importance during the era that King Henry VII passed a law deeming it illegal for a farmer to eschew hemp as part of their crops. If a denizen didn’t grow hemp, he paid for it with fines or jail time.
This devotion to hemp spread across the American colonies, too. Every state from New York to Texas grew hemp during the 18th and 19th centuries. Its oil kept Abraham Lincoln’s lamps lit, and hemp paper cradled the words of the original Declaration of Independence.
But hemp’s influence waned around 1900 because the cotton gin sped up the processing of its fiber to 100 times that of hemp. This does not mean the plant faded from consciousness. Up until 1920, 80% of all clothing could be traced to hemp textiles. Even so, the sun was setting on hemp in the West.
Politicians, not Scientists, Outlawed Hemp
Historians argue to this day why, in 1937, the US passed the Marijuana Tax Act. Many believe that the government feared the influx of migrants from Mexico, so they banned cannabis, including hemp. This allowed them to jail any migrant worker who happened to possess cannabis.
Other historians cite a more sophisticated conspiracy between the wood pulp industry and the invention of synthetic plastics. Either way, after 1937, hemp became a controlled substance, and the federal government taxed farmers who grew it without permission.
There was a notable spike in hemp production during World War II, with the government inspiring farmers to “Grow Hemp for Victory.” Hemp was crucial for many items necessary to the war front, including canvas tarps, rope, and uniforms.
The need for hemp waned after the war, and it was effectively outlawed by 1970. Following the criminalization of hemp, the US entered a cannabis dark age. Not a single farmer cultivated hemp for decades, and its consumers forgot how much their ancestors relied on its fiber, seed, and oil.
Vaping CBD Is the Future of Hemp
Today, hemp has returned from the vestiges of agriculture. The fact that you can now purchase one of our CBD starter kits and enjoy your favorite CBD oil is a small miracle.
Because of the nearly 80 year ban on cannabis research, we only know that CBD has potential. It’ll require many years of study before we comprehend the extent of CBD’s benefits for our bodies and minds.
But if we buttress our curiosity with the wealth of historical fact, we discover that this versatile plant has never harmed a society or a population. If anything, hemp has been our kindly chaperone, ushering us into the modern age with clothed, fed, and healthy.
Vaping CBD merges our past with our future. By purchasing our POD vape, you’re bridging the gap created in the last century, and contributing to the millennia of human experiences with the cannabis plant. From what we’ve learned here, it’s clear you’ll be in good hands.