Rediscovering Man’s Original Crop
To understand hemp, you need to understand its past, present and future. The future: a sustainable crop that can produce more than 20,000 hemp derived products, like paper, protein, biofuels and textiles. In turn, creating opportunity, sustainable development and good business for developing countries around the world. The present: an uncertain industry with many misconceptions, where even experts confuse terms like cannabis, hemp and marihuana. The history: a haughty, magnanimous crop that thrives almost everywhere it is planted - Man’s Original Crop.
Hemp is confused by many with marijuana or hashish. This is a commonplace misconception that is not too hard to understand, all three products are derived from the same plant but hemp unlike marihuana and hashish has no psychoactive effects (containing less that 0.3% THC).
But this misconception is a recent one when we consider the history of mankind. We can date it back to around the 1800’s - the first account being that of Napoleon's invasion of Egypt. Napoleon was concerned by his troops' smoking of hashish and drinking of cannabis-based beverages, he banned the drug and the establishments that provided it immediately. This was then followed by Singapore, the Ottomon government in Constantinople and finally Greece in 1890.
In the 1900s prohibition of cannabis was first seen in Jamaica and then began to spread all over the world up until the famous Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 in the United States, effectively prohibiting all use of cannabis on a federal level. This marked a before and after moment for this crop, effectively changing all perceptions and branding cannabis, and by extension hemp, as a drug.
But there was a time when cannabis was not reduced to this definition. Even if it was capable of yielding marijuana, entire communities lived and prospered off its other yields for centuries. In E.L. Abel’s book, “Marihuana: The First Twelve Thousand Years” he writes of cannabis as it must have been seen by it’s farmers long ago “...One of nature’s hardiest specimens. It needs little care to thrive. One need not talk to it, sing to it, or play soothing tranquil Brahms lullabies to coax it to grow. It is as vigorous as a weed. It is ubiquitous. It flourished under nearly every possible climatic condition”.
He goes on to describe the plant writing “It sprouts from the earth not meekly, not cautiously in suspense of where it is and what it may find, but defiantly, arrogantly, confident that whatever the conditions it has the stamina to survive”.
So it is not a wonder why this crop meant so much to so many for hundreds of thousands of years. It’s resilience and yield is almost uncomparable.
To understand hemp is to go back at least 10,000 years - archaeologists have found pieces of hemp cloth at a number of sites dated at 8,000 BC. So is seems that hemp is truly Man's Original Crop.