June: A Month Of Hemp

The plant requires a healthy industry to allow the world to embrace it

For the past ten years, the Hemp Industries Association (HIA) has been staging Hemp History Week, a weeklong celebration of mankind’s ancient and modern husbandry of the plant, as well as its prodigious uses. While it ended last week it’s remains the largest educational campaign promoting hemp in the U.S. It aims to raise awareness about the environmental sustainability, health benefits, and regenerative agriculture potential and new technological applications of industrial hemp. 

The HIA proudly claims that the campaign elevates hemp at the retail, grassroots, and digital levels, encompassing 1,500 retailers, plus over 250 events in all 50 states. All month long, hemp promotions are planned. Take a gander at hempevents.org to view the plethora of workshops, presentations and conferences taking place in June 2019. Furthermore, you’ll see many more informative hemp-themed events that are scheduled throughout the summer.

Everyone wants to make money, but the environmental and health benefits that the cannabis plant provides—industrially, medically and recreationally—are what inspired the modern cannabis movement and the fight for legalization. Promoting hemp education on the retail scene is an excellent way to demonstrate the underlying motivation for owning a cannabis business.

The plant requires a healthy industry to allow the world to embrace this it, thereby ushering in a new respect for the planet. But it’s remarkable that educational efforts never seem to end. The HIA was founded 25 years ago. The history of the plant certainly hasn’t changed.

Here’s a quick lesson in ancient hemp history. Cannabis, hemp, marijuana—whatever you want to call it—evolved about 28 million years ago on the eastern Tibetan Plateau. It still grows wild across Central Asia. Archaeologists believe that Chinese farmers were growing it 4,000 years ago for oil and also for fiber to make rope, clothing, and paper.

Additionally, over the past quarter-century, discoveries of ancient civilizations are further proving that hemp has been an integral part of human existence for centuries. Just this past week, an archaeologist team from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing reported clear physical evidence that mourners burned cannabis in funeral rites on a remote mountain plateau in Central Asia some 2,500 years ago. They believe the psychoactive properties of the smoke may have had a spiritual role in burial ceremonies.

All of the documentation of hemp heritage in the United States is easily accessible, and has been for years. Growing hemp in the American colonies was required by the crown in the 1600s and 1700s. Drafts of the Declaration of Independence were written on hemp paper and Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag using hemp fabric. Cannabis medicines were prevalent throughout the 1800s and the US hemp agriculture flourished.

Hemp’s popularity did dwindle due to the invention of the cotton gin, which made cotton cheaper to produce for textiles. But many believe that a hemp decorticator, invented by George Schlichten in 1917, ignited the anti-hemp campaign that led to its eventual prohibition.

A decorticator is used to strip skin, bark, or rind off nuts, wood or plant stalks in preparation for further processing. The new decorticator promised to revolutionize production and make it much easier to process. But that’s when the trouble started.

The famed publisher William Randolph Hearst, who owned acres of forestland, was concerned that a revitalized hemp industry and the production of paper might threaten his holding in acres of forest that he used for producing his publications. In response, Hearst used his newspapers to run negative, clearly racist stories to demonize cannabis to millions of readers. Dupont, which produced synthetic fibers, was also concerned about the impact that hemp might have.

The 1930s saw a rise in anti-hemp propaganda, fully embraced by Harry J. Anslinger, the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (known as the DEA today). He proposed the Marijuana Tax Act to Congress, which was passed in 1937.

Restrictions were lifted temporarily during World War II to allow farmers to grow the crop in order to assist the war effort. But in 1970, hemp farming was banned altogether with the passage of the Controlled Substances Act. Incredibly, hemp was listed as a Schedule 1 drug, despite the clear evidence that the rise of humankind is inextricably interwoven with the cannabis plant.

The sad truth is hemp research and science has been hindered by lawmakers who have remained deaf to both science and history. Essentially, there’s a century’s worth of lies to undo. It’s a tiresome never ending task it seems—but necessary.

Years have been lost. Genetics of the past have disappeared. Fortunately, a healthy, burgeoning cannabis industry is taking shape. With its advancement, perhaps we can take our history back.

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