Hemp was first brought into North America in 1606. French botanist Louis Hebert sailed to Port Royal, Acadia (Present day Nova Scotia) and there planted the first hemp crop. From then on other farmers followed, to the point where it was illegal NOT to grow hemp. In the late 1600’s it was required by law to grow hemp. Made way by King James I, requiring any and all home owners to grow and cultivate 100 hemp plants. Back then, it was being used to make sails and rigging for British ships. Even founding fathers of the United States of America, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp. Thomas Jefferson was a breeder, creating new, stronger strains of Cannabis Sativa L. As well as helping create a breaking system for hemp stalks to collect fibers. As hemp caught on across the nation, Upper Canada’s Lieutenant Governor distributed free hemp seed to all Canadian farmers.
In the early 1900’s USDA shows that Cannabis Sativa L. (hemp) produces four times more paper per acre than trees. Canadian’s again jumped at the opportunity, with the Canadian House of Commons encouraging all farmers to grow hemp.
Not long after, hemp was starting to raise a brow of interest in the law. Knowing that Cannabis Sativa L. and Marijuana stem from the same family, in 1937, hemp was restricted by the Marijuana Tax act. With this law set in play, hemp could only be cultivated under the terms and government issued tax stamp. Without this stamp, any and all use, growth, or transportation of this plant was made illegal.
In a time of war, the US Department of Agriculture created a program encouraging farmers to grow hemp, “Hemp for Victory”. At the time there was a shortage of imported hemp, due to shipping cost etc. The answer to the problem was simple, grow hemp in the US. So, between 1942-1945 the US cultivated 400 000 acres of hemp for World War II. After the war ended, the hemp demand demolished. Hemp production was once again scarce, having the last commercial crop was harvested in Wisconsin in 1957.
Hemp has only become legal in the US as of December 20th, 2018. Here in Canada, Hemp has been seen as an agricultural crop and legal to cultivate since 1998. And still, to this day, there are some who turn their noses up to the agricultural practice and cultivation of this due to it’s distant relative.
With Cannabis being legal all across North America, and its almost CRUCIAL standing in our very own history, how is this possible? Cannabis was North America’s FIRST agricultural crop, and on CANADIAN soil at that, it’s history helps write our own…
Today, I am thankful for Hemp. For its history, its power, its greatness.