Hemp is known as one of the oldest crops that man cultivates. This has been used for textiles, cordage, and paper for thousands of years already. According to the Columbia History of the World revealed that the oldest relic pertaining to human industry is a piece of hemp fabric that is dated 8,000 BC. It was in 1977 when Carl Sagan made a suggestion that marijuana may be considered as the world’s first agricultural crop, which led to the cultivation of the said crop eventually.
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Hemp appeared in Southern Russia around 600 BC. Hemp leaves and seeds were also included in burial sites dated 500 BC. The Chinese found a way to use hemp way back 100 BC and the Arabs discovered their own use of it in 900 BC. Hemp also showed up in England around 100 BC. For the next 700 years, majority of paper production made use of hemp.
Hemp comes from the cannabis plant that contains less than 0.3% THC. The plant has a high amount of CBD. This refers to the non-psychoactive variety of cannabis sativa. Hemp and marijuana are from the same cannabis species. They are distinct genetically and they can further be differentiated by looking at their application, cultivation methods, and chemical composition. Throughout history, hemp has different uses and it’s not like other crops that require people to destroy forests and lands.
Until the 20th century, around 80 percent of the world’s fabric and textile requirements all hailed from the hemp fiber. There is also a rumor that has been in circulation that the final copy of the Declaration of Independence of the United States was transcribed on a piece of parchment while the two original drafts were written on hemp paper. During this time, around 90 percent of paper in the world came from hemp fiber. Hemp was also used in the oldest US naval ship The USS Constitution which was popularly known as old ironsides. About 120,000 pounds of hemp were used for rigging, ropes, lines, and caulking. Hemp was also used for making the canvas to be used for sails. During the days leading to the American Revolution, the law required farmers to use hemp as currency for paying taxes. This also continued for 200 years in certain states such as Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. During the 1940s Henry Ford was able to save farmers during the Great Depression since hemp was used by his chemists to develop plastics used in its car manufacture. This had been proven to be 300 pounds lighter compared to steel and it is also up to ten times more durable. During World War II, hemp was used by the government. The USDA launched a campaign to convince farmers to cultivate hemp once more but the cultivation ended after the war ended.
There are several products in which hemp can be used. It is said that hemp has about 30,000 uses. Hemp is used for food and its seeds are a great source of protein. Hemp is used for health food products such as hemp milk, granola, organic body care items, and protein. Hemp is also used for hair and skin care and detergents. Hemp fiber is also used for several products: medicine, cordage, construction materials, textiles, biofuel, paper, cellulose derived from hemp to be used for composites, and a whole lot more.
Hemp is also a great alternative to wood fiber and cotton. Hemp is known to be 10 times stronger than cotton. It is considered as one of the strongest plant fibers. Cotton is only grown in warm climates and it also requires a lot of water. Cotton is also in need of a lot of pesticides. Hemp on the other hand does not require pesticides and it can grow in 50 states. Hemp can produce 250 more fiber compared to cotton and 600 percent more fiber than flax. Hemp is also easy to harvest. Hemp can be harvested in just four months, at 10 to 20 feet tall. This helps save millions of trees which can destroy the natural environment. It will also prevent the erosion of the topsoil and lessens the pollution of rivers, lakes, and streams. One acre of hemp can produce four times more paper than one acre of trees. The fiber found in hemp is also purer compared to that which is found in wood.
Building materials from hemp are also stronger than wood. They can also be manufactured less expensively than wood and consequently this can reduce the costs of construction. Hemp oil is also rich in protein and it is good for both animal and human consumption. This can also be used as ingredient in highly nutritious foods and also paint, varnish, lubricants, plastic substitutes, and ink. Hemp also has high level of cellulose which makes it great for ethanol fuel production. Ethanol is known as the cleanest biological alternative to gasoline.