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CBD 101 - The History of Hemp


Everywhere we look, it seems that CBD, medical marijuana, and cannabis in general is right there. Facebook, the media, your neighbor, family, and friends have all been talking about it. It sounds like the latest and greatest thing to hit the mainstream market. The truth is, though, that it's been around forever--so let's talk about the history of this amazing plant!


Hemp's history goes back thousands of years. It's origins date all the way back to the beginning of agricultural movements, making it one of the world's oldest cultivated crops. Hemp fibers that were spun into pottery have been discovered dating back up to 10,000 years. Ancient cultures have used hemp seed and oil for food, the fiber has been woven into textiles & rope, and eventually it was used for paper. Hemp rope was the standard on European ships. In the mid-sixteenth century, the Spaniards introduced hemp to South America and from there it made it's way to New England during the seventeenth century.


Here in Kentucky, our hemp roots run deep. Early settlers brought hemp to the state to have a resource for textile production and the first recorded hemp crop was raised in Danville, KY in 1775. Cotton did not grow well in this area, but the climate and soil conditions in Kentucky served as a prime setting and hemp became the best option for fabric in our area. Between 1790 and 1800, settlements were transformed into attractive communities of fine homes, landed estates, and diverse manufacturing and mercantile enterprises — and hemp was regarded “the most certain crop and the most valuable commodity” produced in the region.


Kentucky's hemp production thrived and the state remained the nation's leading hemp producing state into the mid-19th century. In the 1850's, the industry began to decline until the Civil War, which brought American hemp production to a halt. The nation experienced a brief revival of hemp production during the first World War as foreign sources of fibers were cut off. The government turned to domestic hemp to fill the need for rope, cables, twine, and engine packing for the war industries.


The "Reefer Madness" campaign of the 1930's deeply entwined with it's cousin, marijuana. Despite it's many differences, in 1937 Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act which required farmers to pay a marijuana tax on their hemp crop, leaving farmers with very low profitability in a market with little to know outlet for sale. By 1970, hemp was federally banned when cannabis was classified as a Schedule 1 controlled substance.


A Resurgence: The 2018 Federal Farm Bill changed the game. It allowed for hemp cultivation broadly, not simply pilot programs for studying market interest in hemp-derived products. It allowed the transfer of hemp-derived products across state lines for commercial or other purposes. It also puts no restrictions on the sale, transport, or possession of hemp-derived products, so long as those items are produced in a manner consistent with the law.


The passing of the Farm Bill opened the door for the CBD industry to expand across the United States. This great plant that we were given that can feed you, house you, clothe you, and HEAL you was ours.



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