History of Hemp & CBD

History of Hemp & CBD
History of Hemp & CBD
Hemp and CBD have taken the world by storm in recent years, but their history is anything but new. These ancient plants have deep roots in human civilization, dating back thousands of years. Let's take a brief journey through the fascinating history of hemp and CBD.
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  • Cannabis sativa, a versatile plant cultivated for centuries, has diverse applications.
  • Hemp’s historical roots trace back to ancient China around 2800 BCE.
  • Ancient Hindu scriptures highlight Indian Hemp’s pain-relief properties and its use in traditional drinks like Bhang.
  • 19th-century developments shaped industrial hemp’s role in various industries.
  • Early 20th-century research by Adams laid the foundation for understanding cannabis chemistry.
  • Hemp faced a decline due to prohibition in the early 20th century.
  • Hemp products & CBD is now widely accessible in various forms.
  • Industrial hemp production provides numerous benefits for farmers.

Table of Contents


The history of hemp and CBD is a fascinating tale that spans thousands of years. Hemp, derived from the Cannabis sativa plant, has been cultivated by humans for centuries for its versatile uses. In ancient times, hemp was used extensively as a source of food, fiber, and medicine. From the earliest plants cultivated in China and India to its introduction to different regions and cultures around the world, hemp has been a vital crop with a wide range of uses.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, hemp played a crucial role in the industrial revolution. Its strong fibers were used for making ropes, textiles, and paper, making it an important raw material for various industries. Notably, the psychoactive properties of cannabis plants led to the prohibition of hemp in many countries. However, recent scientific research has focused on the therapeutic properties of CBD (cannabidiol), a non-psychoactive compound found in hemp. This has led to a resurgence of interest in CBD as a popular therapeutic aid for a variety of ailments.

Today, CBD is being incorporated into a wide range of products, from oils and tinctures to creams and capsules. Its medicinal potential is being explored for various purposes, including pain relief, anxiety reduction, and even epilepsy treatment. As more countries recognize the value of hemp and CBD, there is a growing movement to reintroduce hemp as a valuable agricultural crop and industrial commodity. With its rich history and promising future, the story of hemp and CBD continues to evolve.

Early Production of Hemp & Cannabis

Hemp is one of the earliest plants cultivated by humans for various purposes. Its history dates back thousands of years, with evidence suggesting its use in ancient civilizations such as China, India, and Mesopotamia. In fact, historical records indicate that hemp was first cultivated in China around 2800 BCE. The Chinese emperor, Shen Nung, recognized the value of hemp and encouraged the sowing of its seeds [1]. Hemp quickly spread to other parts of the world, becoming an essential agricultural crop in many regions.

The history of hemp dates back centuries and has served various purposes throughout the years. The fibrous nature of hemp plants made them ideal for producing textiles, ropes, and building materials. In fact, in ancient China, hemp fibers were even used to make clothing and shoes. Furthermore, the development of hemp paper provided an affordable alternative to traditional parchment.

In addition to its versatility as a material, hemp seeds were also highly valued as a nutritious food source due to their high protein content. Different cultures consumed these seeds and utilized them in the production of oils. Additionally, cannabis-infused teas gained popularity in certain regions for their believed medicinal properties.

As the use of cannabis expanded across continents, its therapeutic benefits became more widely recognized. Historical records highlight its use for pain relief and treating various ailments in early civilizations such as the ancient Egyptians and Greeks. The rich history of hemp demonstrates its significance in numerous aspects of human life throughout time.

Earliest Plants Cultivated

Archaeological findings in China and Siberia have revealed charred cannabis seeds and mummified marijuana, indicating that these plants also had psychoactive properties. This discovery suggests that cannabis was not only cultivated for its practical benefits but also for its mind-altering properties.

The origin of hemp cultivation is a subject of much debate and speculation. There are various theories, including the Altai Mountains, the southern Tien Shan Mountains, the Himalayas, and the Yellow and Yangtze rivers. These regions are believed to be the birthplace of hemp cultivation and played a crucial role in spreading its cultivation to other parts of the world [2].

Indian Hemp and Therapeutic Uses

Indian Hemp and Therapeutic Uses

Indian Hemp, has a rich historical background and a wide range of therapeutic uses. This plant holds significant importance in Hindu religious texts, where it is believed to have been used for its healing properties for thousands of years. Indian Hemp is extensively mentioned in ancient Hindu scriptures, such as the Atharva Veda, as a beneficial plant for its ability to relieve pain and induce a sense of relaxation [3].

Hemp history has seen the popular traditional use of Indian Hemp in India, particularly in the preparation of a traditional drink known as Bhang. Bhang, made from the flowers and leaves of the Indian Hemp plant, is consumed during religious festivals like Holi and is renowned for its euphoric effects when consumed in moderation.

The history of hemp reveals its value beyond religious significance. Indian Hemp has been highly regarded for its versatile properties, with its fibers being utilized for the production of textiles, paper, and clothing. Dating back to ancient civilizations, the durability and strength of hemp fibers made it a prized resource for creating sustainable and long-lasting materials.

Moreover, the history of hemp illustrates its applications in the field of medicine. Indian Hemp contains cannabinoids, including the well-known compound THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is responsible for its psychoactive effects. Believed to possess analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and muscle relaxing properties, hemp has shown potential in the treatment of various conditions.

19th Century Developments in Industrial Hemp Production

In the 19th century, industrial hemp production witnessed significant developments that played a crucial role in shaping its role in various industries. The demand for hemp soared during this time period, particularly in the rope and rigging industry. Hemp plants were extensively cultivated to meet the growing needs of this industry.

The history of hemp reveals its significance in the manufacturing of ropes and riggings. The natural strength and durability of hemp fibers made them an ideal choice for these purposes. Over time, the history of hemp shows that ships and boats heavily relied on hemp ropes and riggings, thanks to their ability to withstand harsh weather conditions and carry heavy loads. As the demand for stronger and more reliable ropes increased, hemp production played a crucial role in meeting the needs of the rope and rigging industry.

Throughout the history of hemp, various technological advancements greatly improved the efficiency of hemp production. During the 19th century, innovative mechanical aids for processing and harvesting hemp plants, combined with improved breeding techniques, revolutionized cultivation practices. As a result, the history of hemp witnessed a surge in production, enabling the rope and rigging industry to meet the ever-growing demand. This period of advancement not only satisfied the industry’s needs but also contributed to economic growth.

20th Century: The Rise and Fall of Hemp Production

The 20th century witnessed both the rise and fall of hemp production. At the beginning of the century, hemp was a vital crop, widely cultivated for its versatile and valuable properties. The industrial hemp industry flourished during this time, with hemp plants being used to produce a wide range of products, from ropes and riggings to building materials and paper. However, the production of hemp faced a significant decline in the mid-20th century due to various factors, including the association of cannabis plants with psychoactive properties and the increasing popularity of synthetic alternatives [4]. Despite its decline, hemp has made a comeback in recent years, thanks to its therapeutic properties and the growing recognition of its potential for various industrial purposes.

Roger Adams and Psychoactive Properties of Cannabis Sativa

Roger Adams is renowned for his groundbreaking research on the psychoactive properties of Cannabis Sativa. In the early 20th century, Adams dedicated his work to understanding the chemical composition of cannabis plants, most notably the psychoactive compound known as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Through meticulous research and experimentation, Adams was able to isolate and identify the THC compound in cannabis. His findings provided valuable insight into the effects of cannabis on the human mind and body. This research marked a significant milestone in the understanding of the psychoactive properties of Cannabis Sativa.

Adams’ discoveries not only advanced the scientific understanding of cannabis, but they also had profound implications in various fields. His research laid the foundation for further exploration into the therapeutic properties of cannabis, opening up new possibilities for medicinal purposes. Moreover, it contributed to the development of regulations and policies surrounding the use of cannabis and its derivatives.

Today, thanks to Adams’ groundbreaking work, we have a much deeper understanding of the chemical composition of cannabis plants and their psychoactive effects. His contributions have become an integral part of the history of cannabis research and continue to shape advancements in this field [1].

Prohibition and the Decline of the Hemp Industry

During the early 20th century, the hemp industry faced a significant decline due to the impact of prohibition. Prohibition, which referred to the period when the production and consumption of alcohol were outlawed in the United States, also had unintended consequences for other industries, including hemp.

One of the major factors contributing to the decline of the hemp industry was the criminalization of cannabis itself. In the 1930s, the government began associating cannabis with criminal activities, leading to the passage of The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. This act imposed onerous restrictions and taxes on the production and sale of hemp, effectively hindering the industry’s growth [5].

The Marijuana Tax Act greatly limited the cultivation of hemp plants and imposed heavy taxes on hemp farmers. This, coupled with the negative perceptions surrounding cannabis, led to a sharp decline in hemp production and the industry as a whole. This decline was further exacerbated by the strict regulations and penalties for possession and use of cannabis.

It wasn’t until World War II that the hemp industry briefly experienced a revival due to the need for raw materials. The United States government encouraged the cultivation of hemp for the production of materials like rope, fabric, and paper. However, after the war, with the reintroduction of stricter regulations and the reestablishment of negative perceptions surrounding cannabis, the decline of the hemp industry continued.

Resurgence in Recent Years

In recent years, there has been a remarkable resurgence in the popularity and acceptance of hemp and CBD products. This resurgence can be attributed to several factors that have contributed to a shift in public perception and increased awareness of the potential benefits of these natural remedies.

One of the key factors driving the resurgence of hemp and CBD is the growing body of scientific research highlighting their therapeutic properties. Studies have shown that CBD offers a wide range of potential health benefits, including pain relief, anxiety reduction, and anti-inflammatory effects. This has led to a surge in interest from consumers seeking natural alternatives to traditional pharmaceuticals.

Moreover, changing legislation and increased advocacy efforts have played a significant role in promoting the acceptance of hemp and CBD. In many countries and states, laws have been amended to decriminalize cannabis or allow for the medicinal use of CBD. This shift in policy has opened up opportunities for individuals and businesses to explore the potential of hemp and CBD as a viable industry.

As a result of this resurgence, various industries and applications have emerged around hemp and CBD products. The market now offers a wide variety of CBD-infused products, ranging from oils and tinctures to edibles and cosmetics. CBD is also being incorporated into wellness and beauty products, further expanding its reach and appeal.

The resurgence of hemp and CBD in recent years signifies a growing acceptance and appreciation for the potential benefits they offer. As more people discover and experience the positive effects firsthand, we can expect this trend to continue, with even more industries and applications emerging to meet the demand for these natural remedies.

Modern Day Uses for Hemp & CBD Products

Modern Day Uses for Hemp & CBD Products

From oils and tinctures to capsules and edibles, CBD is now widely available in various forms for consumers seeking natural alternatives to support their overall well-being. Additionally, CBD has found its way into the beauty industry, with numerous skincare and cosmetic products incorporating the compound due to its potential anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

The textile and fashion industry has also embraced hemp as a sustainable and versatile raw material. Hemp fibers, derived from the hemp plant’s stalks, are used to craft clothing, accessories, and even home textiles. Hemp fibers are not only durable but also considered eco-friendly, as they require less water and pesticides compared to other fibers like cotton.

Furthermore, the construction industry has recognized the benefits of using hemp-based building materials. Hempcrete, a blend of hemp hurds (the woody core of the hemp stalk) and lime, is gaining popularity as a sustainable alternative to traditional concrete. It offers excellent insulation, is fire-resistant, and even has the potential to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, making it an eco-friendly choice for construction projects.

Wide Range of Applications from Medicinal to Building Materials

Hemp, with its rich history and wide range of applications, has been utilized for centuries for both its medicinal properties and as a source of raw materials for various industries. This versatile plant has played a vital role in human civilization, from ancient cultures to modern times.

When it comes to medicinal uses, hemp has been valued for its therapeutic properties. Throughout history, different parts of the hemp plant, such as the seeds, flowers, and leaves, have been used for their potential health benefits. For example, hemp oil extracted from the seeds has been used for its high concentration of beneficial fatty acids, making it a popular supplement for promoting cardiovascular health and maintaining overall wellness. Additionally, the flowers and leaves of hemp have been used to create cannabis oil, which is known for its potential pain-relieving and calming effects.

Apart from its medicinal uses, hemp has also been used as a valuable source of raw materials for various industries. The fibers of hemp plants have been used to create textiles, ropes, and paper for centuries. Hemp fibers are strong, durable, and eco-friendly, making them an excellent alternative to traditional textiles and paper made from trees. In fact, hemp paper was widely used throughout history, including during the 19th century when it was a vital crop for farmers.

Furthermore, hemp has gained recognition in the construction industry as a sustainable building material. Hempcrete, a mixture of hemp hurds and lime, is being used as an eco-friendly substitute for traditional concrete. Hempcrete offers excellent insulation properties and is fire-resistant, making it an ideal choice for construction projects. Moreover, it has the potential to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, making it a sustainable option to reduce carbon emissions.

In addition to its broad range of applications, hemp cultivation also offers potential benefits for sustainable agricultural practices. Hemp requires less water, pesticides, and herbicides compared to other crops, making it an environmentally-friendly option for farmers. Moreover, the cultivation of hemp can provide economic opportunities for farmers, as it is a high-yield crop that can be used for various purposes.

Raw Materials and Essential Oils Used in Various Industries

Hemp, with its rich history and diverse uses, has become a valuable source of raw materials and essential oils in various industries. The versatility of this plant has allowed it to make its mark in textiles, cosmetics, food, and even automotive industries.

One of the key uses of hemp is its fibers, which are known for their strength and durability. These fibers have been used for centuries to create textiles, ropes, and even paper. Today, they are popular in the production of sustainable fashion, as they provide a natural alternative to synthetic materials. Additionally, hemp fibers are finding their way into automotive manufacturing, where they are used to create lightweight and eco-friendly components.

Hemp is also renowned for its essential oils, which are extracted from the flowers and leaves of the plant. These oils possess a variety of therapeutic properties and have become prized ingredients in the cosmetics and wellness industries. Hemp essential oils are incorporated into skincare products for their moisturizing and soothing abilities, while also being used in aromatherapy for their calming effects.

Moreover, the construction industry has recognized the potential of hemp as a sustainable building material. Hemp-lime panel systems, made from a mixture of hemp hurds and lime, offer excellent thermal insulation and fire-resistant properties. This innovative material has been researched extensively, including studies conducted by the University of Bath, showcasing its benefits in high-quality construction. Additionally, hemp-lime panel systems have been shown to have a lower carbon footprint compared to traditional building materials.

Benefits of Industrial Hemp Production for Farmers

Industrial hemp production offers numerous benefits for farmers. Firstly, hemp is a highly versatile crop that can be grown in a wide range of climates and soil conditions, making it suitable for farmers in various regions. This adaptability allows farmers to diversify their agricultural portfolio and minimize risks associated with relying solely on traditional crops. Additionally, hemp is a fast-growing plant that requires minimal water and pesticides, making it a more sustainable option compared to other agricultural crops. This not only helps to conserve natural resources but also reduces the costs and environmental impact associated with farming practices. Furthermore, the demand for hemp and hemp-derived products is rapidly growing, opening up new and lucrative market opportunities for farmers. From fibers to oils and various other products, hemp can be used in industries such as textiles, construction, cosmetics, food, and more.


  1. “History of Cannabis.” The University of Sydney, www.sydney.edu.au/lambert/medicinal-cannabis/history-of-cannabis.html. Accessed 29 Sept. 2023.
  2. “Cultural Significance of Hemp.” MOUNTAIN Smokes, mountainsmokes.com/history-and-cultural-significance-of-hemp/. Accessed 29 Sept. 2023.
  3. Ledger, Emily. “Cannabis Use in the Ancient World: Ancient India.” Canex, 23 Dec. 2020, canex.co.uk/cannabis-use-in-the-ancient-world-ancient-india/.
  4. Rupasinghe, H P Vasantha, et al. “Industrial Hemp (Cannabis Sativa Subsp.. Sativa) as an Emerging Source for Value-Added Functional Food Ingredients and Nutraceuticals.” Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), U.S. National Library of Medicine, 7 Sept. 2020, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7571072/.
  5. “The Illegalization of Marijuana: A Brief History.” Origins, origins.osu.edu/article/illegalization-marijuana-brief-history?language_content_entity=en. Accessed 29 Sept. 2023.
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