Top 10 Events in Hemp History and 3 Key Take-aways

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]So much has been written and said about the ills of plastics. It is widely known that plastics are causing irreversible damage to the environment. The surprising thing is that we still find them everywhere. Is there a way we can get rid of the harmful effects of plastics?

Thankfully, the answer is a resounding ‘Yes’. Most plastics are made from synthetic polymers. But some animals, plants, and microorganisms also produce polymers through biochemical reactions. Hemp is among the foremost plants that offer a safe alternative to today’s plastic.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/4″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][tm_image align=”center” image=”21812″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Let’s try and understand hemp in a bit more detail. Hemp is cultivated for its fiber and for its edible seeds. It is known to contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a compound that produces psychoactive components in humans. In other words,

THC could make people get high. However, the variety of cannabis cultivated for hemp has a relatively low amount of THC compared to that grown for marijuana or hashish.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Environment-friendly Alternative:

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Hemp has been the earth’s most sustainable natural resource. It finds wide applications in the field of medicines, building construction, etc. However, perhaps its most important use is as an eco-friendly alternative to traditional plastics. Hemp plastic is recyclable and can be manufactured to be 100% biodegradable.

We can have standard plastics reinforced with hemp fibers. It’s even possible to have plastics made 100% from hemp plants.

Hemp plastic has been in existence for well over 2000 years! As an entity that has existed for millennia, it has had a chequered history too. From an all-powerful king encouraging its cultivation to be banned to then being reinstated … hemp has seen it all!

In this article let’s take a look at the key events in the history of hemp. Knowing the history is fine but what good is it if we do not learn anything from it. So let’s try and identify three important messages to take home.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

1. A Historic Invention

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]An event happened in China around 200 BC which is among the major milestones in the history of the world: Paper was made using hemp.

Prior to the invention of paper, many different materials were used for writing – like clay, wood, and parchment. But this invention made writing easier and laid the foundation for many subsequent revolutions.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

2. A Western Revolution

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]In the year 1454, the Gutenberg Bible was printed on hemp paper. It marked the start of the “Gutenberg Revolution” and the age of printed books in the western part of the world.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

3. Royal Support

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]In 1533, King Henry 8th made a royal decree that mandated the growing of hemp, for the benefit of the Royal Navy. Farmers that did not comply with it were made to pay fines.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

4. History Repeats

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]George Washington, the first President of the USA, was a hemp farmer himself. In 1789 he advocated that Indian hemp seed be sown everywhere.

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson – the second and third presidents of the USA echoed similar sentiments as well. They had been hemp farmers too![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

5. A Marquee Moment

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Hemp powered yet another innovation in 1853: Levi Strauss & Co, founded in the USA, made something that set the trend for centuries to come. They made a pair of jeans for the very first time. They had used hemp for the same.[/vc_column_text][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/3″][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/3″][tm_image align=”center” image=”21813″][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/3″][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

6. Setback

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]The hemp processing technology was undergoing substantial improvements. This was not to the liking of three big bankers in the USA – Mellon, Rockefeller, and Carnegie. They had huge investments in industries that would suffer a major blow from a hemp revolution.

Thanks to the efforts of these gentlemen the US congress approved a bill in 1937 prohibiting the cultivation of hemp.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

7. Super Car

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]In 1941, Henry Ford, the legendary automobile maker, completed building a car mostly from hemp. Also, it ran on clean-burning hemp oil. What’s more, the car was 30% lighter than steel cars and therefore required less fuel. The car had lightweight bioplastic parts and was much stronger than steel cars. The awesome strength of the panel was demonstrated successfully.

Watch the video here:[/vc_column_text][vc_raw_html]JTNDaWZyYW1lJTIwd2lkdGglM0QlMjIxMDAlMjUlMjIlMjBoZWlnaHQlM0QlMjIzNDUlMjIlMjBzcmMlM0QlMjJodHRwcyUzQSUyRiUyRnd3dy55b3V0dWJlLmNvbSUyRmVtYmVkJTJGcnlPMkpMekZQVFklM0ZhdXRvcGxheSUzRDElMjZtdXRlJTNEMCUyMiUzRSUwQSUzQyUyRmlmcmFtZSUzRQ==[/vc_raw_html][vc_column_text]Henry Ford made a statement that underlined the importance of preserving the environment. In order to achieve this, he suggested the use of hemp.

Advice worth recalling now – many decades later, right?[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

8. Hemp for Victory

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]The year was 1942. World War 2 was in progress. Hemp was needed for supplies to the military. The US government needed hemp now. So a campaign was launched for encouraging farmers to grow hemp. A video called Hemp for Victory was released.

Watch this video:[/vc_column_text][vc_raw_html]JTNDaWZyYW1lJTIwd2lkdGglM0QlMjIxMDAlMjUlMjIlMjBoZWlnaHQlM0QlMjIzNDUlMjIlMjBzcmMlM0QlMjJodHRwcyUzQSUyRiUyRnd3dy55b3V0dWJlLmNvbSUyRmVtYmVkJTJGZDNyb2x5aVRQcjAlM0ZhdXRvcGxheSUzRDElMjZtdXRlJTNEMCUyMiUzRSUwQSUzQyUyRmlmcmFtZSUzRQ==[/vc_raw_html][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

9. U-turn

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]In 1945, after World War 2 was over, the US government began its campaign against hemp. It even disowned any video called Hemp for Victory! When the US soldiers returned home from the war they were asked to burn hemp crop in the fields.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

10. Back in the Saddle

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]After Canada in 1996, the US also started encouraging research and pilots on hemp. The Farm Bill passed in 2014 authorized hemp research and pilot programs by state departments of agriculture and institutions of higher education.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Key Take-aways:

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]So what does this long history of hemp tell us? What are the important takeaways that we can carry home?

Without a doubt, synthetic plastic is ruining our world. As of 2018, 335 million tons of plastics were produced globally each year. Beach litter is 40 to 60% plastic, most of it washed ashore by the sea. Imagine the plight of creatures living in the sea!

We had better get our act together sooner than later. Else we will end up leaving a non-liveable world for our future generations. It is high time we resorted to smart options like hemp.

What are the actions that are called for? We can look at it from three angles:

  1. Government support: It is obvious that governments have, in the past, given in to pressure from lobbies. Possibly aided by some misinformation. It would be great if they would, going forward, act in the best interests of the people. They must encourage research and education related to hemp and other natural resources. In addition, governments would do well to incentivize people to use alternatives to save the planet.
  2. Fundamental research: As we saw earlier, there was a time when hemp research was giving ground. As early as 1938, Popular Mechanics magazine published an article calling hemp a billion-dollar crop thanks to the new hemp processing technology. Unfortunately, that was when the prohibition happened. More and more research should be carried out by entrepreneurs and educational institutions alike, to make sure we move towards becoming a healthy planet.
  3. Consumer awareness & attitude: All said and done, the end consumer decides the fate of any product or technology. Nothing is possible if they reject the new products for any reason. We must not only have the right attitude to eco-friendly products but must also try and educate others around us. As responsible citizens, all of us must switch to eco-friendly products, even at the cost of some convenience. We owe it to our planet after all!

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