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History of Hemp

Magnifying glass with pen resting on an open book with a world globe

The Grand History of Hemp

History book with spy glass and globe

We travel far and wide with Hemp to find its origins

A journey from the East to the West. Many ancient manuscripts are written on Hemp paper, and archaeological discoveries show Hemp used in ancient daily life.

We go back 10,000 years with Hemp, journey back to Ancient China and Mesopotamia; both referred to as the Cradles of Civilisation.

Mesopotamia was an ancient region in Asia. Today home to Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Kuwait.

This region’s many inventions remain crucial to our lives today — the concept of time, Writing, The wheel, sailboats and maps. Hemp played a vital part; grown and used for materials; cloth, fishnets, rope, paper and for the plants’ therapeutic properties.

History tells the storey; Hemp fibre was relied upon as much as wood is to us today.

Ancient monuments roman empire

Going back to 3000BC when the ‘Shekel’ was first introduced

 to Mesopotamia as a currency. Hemp is frequently used as a medicine, and for cloth, now that’s versatile

Chinese historical records show the ancient civilization using Hemp Oil for its therapeutic benefits and using it to create paper since 740AD; Hemp used for paper, Teabags, writing paper, toilet paper, and rope. In 907AD China was the leading bookmaker.

Throughout the 1000AD paper created with Hemp moved onto Korea with a Monk, along the Silk Road and then onto Japan, Tibet and India.

Between 800AD and 1000AD

Hemp rope is found in Italy homelands of the Romans. Continue North to Sweden and see Vikings using Hemp for rope and sails

We are next moving on to Spain, the Spanish in 1150AD

 creating the first paper industry in Europe, reaching the UK by 12th Century, The Magna Carta was drafted on Hemp paper in 1215.

Right through to 1453 AD Byzantines; The East Roman Empire used the Cannabis flowers for their therapeutic properties – CBD is nothing new, only now has a fancy name

Ancient monuments roman empire

In 1533, King Henry VIII made it compulsory

 by Royal Order for Farmers to dedicate a quarter of an acre of land to Hemp (or Flax for every 60 acres)

Most Bibles of this time were printed on hemp paper, the famous Gutenberg Bible was written on Hemp paper

In 1563 Queen Elizabeth ordered

 farmers/landowners to grow Cannabis, anyone not adhering to this law would have to pay a £5.00 penalty. She insisted this was cultivated to build up her Navy and for her household

There is a rumour Queen Elizabeth 1st also used the flowers to ease her pains, once a month.

Decorative banner made of Hemp Leaf

 The 1600s in the early days of America

Hemp was a vital material for this newly developed nation, and the Founding Fathers insisted Farmers grow this fantastic crop. Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and George Washington flew the flag for the Hemp industry and assisted in its hearty creation in the early days of the US

The first drafts of the Declaration of Independence also written on Hemp paper, the final copy was, however, written on animal skins.


American Presidents Mount Rushmoor

So valuable was the Hemp crop it was used as legal tender, it became Mandatory to grow this product as the American colonies grew. In the 17th and 18th centuries, became part of American Law for Hemp to be cultivated. But what blew me away, It was illegal NOT to grow Hemp in some colonies.

Such is this valuable plant and its assets were necessary to grow a developing nation. Its properties abundant, so versatile, we made ropes, sails, clothes, food, paper, oils (that is just a snippet)

By the 1700s around 75% of the worlds writing material

 was Hemp, In the 1700s the King James Bible, the works of Alexander Dumas and Mark Twain and in 1865 Lewis Carol’s Alice in Wonderland was on Hemp paper

Since the 18th Century Russia was the largest producer

 of Hemp producing around 75% of Europe’s Hemp, for Sails, Nets, Rope and paper. Britain became so reliant on Russia for it’s Hemp Napoleon started ‘The Hemp War’ signing a treaty with Russia in 1807, The Tilsit Peace Treaty, one of the conditions being, Russia would no longer supply Great Britain with much-needed Hemp. Napoleon’s attempt to weaken the British Navy.

Just a few short years later, Russia resumed trade with Great Britain, the beginning of the end for Napoleon.

In 1865, the beginning of the end in Europe

we began to use Wood pulp, Hemp is then phased out by the end of the 1900s most printers in the Western world were using wood pulp.

So given all of the above

this plant giving so much, proved itself a valuable asset through the ages. We are looking for an alternative to wood; this is a no brainer. We tried to reinvent the wheel, and our depleted rain forests show we’ve made an error, let us reverse it!

This incredible plant can provide us with so much, often as a replacement to environmentally harmful products – industrial products (paper and rope), textiles (bags and clothing), foodstuffs (milk, cold-pressed oil and tea) and herbal remedies (tinctures creams, balms, and other topicals). Industrial Hemp is also cultivated for insulation, biofuels, in car manufacturing and carpet production

Hemp seeds scattered on wooden surface

Biodiesel is created from Hemp Seeds and Stalks called ‘Hempoline’; You can produce alcohol by fermenting the whole plant. There is a form of hemp oil that can power a diesel engine.

Have you heard of Hempcrete? It’s a thing! You can use Hemp materials to build a home; it truly never ends.

Today we have rediscovered another use for this amazing plant. We are now around to using extracted CBD’s, and it’s all perfect for the environment and safe for all the family



Let’s follow our colourful history. This industry can provide us with a sustainable product with a multitude of uses, be environmentally friendly and harvest Job creation, what’s not to like?!

For more information see our article Everything you need to know about CBD