Plants - Drugs Mind - Spirit Freedom - Law Arts - Culture Library  
Get the Erowid "Words" T-shirt
Contribute $50 and show support for accurate drug information!
The History you Were never Told.
By John Birrenbach, Founder
The Institute for Hemp
The World History of Commercial Cannabis Hemp or Marijuana
Cannabis Hemp has a history that goes back to pre-historic time.
Cannabis Hemp has been found in Tombs dating back to 8,000 B. C.

    Hemp Travels The World:
    1. 8500BC China         2. 1000BC India
    3. 500BC Africa - Asia  4. 500AD Europe
    5. 1495 N America       6. 1545 S America
    7. 1992 Australia       8. 1993 England
    Cannabis use can be documented as far back as 2700 BC (1) in
ancient Chinese writings. These writings tell us that cannabis was
used by the Chinese for a variety of uses. These included fiber, oil,
and as a medicine. By 450 BC history tells us that hemp was being
cultivated in the Mid-East region. From Afghanistan to Egypt hemp was
cultivated for its fiber and drugs. It appears that hemp was first
introduced into Europe around 500-1000 AD. It is known that hemp was
in wide cultivation in Europe by the Sixteenth century. It was
cultivated for its fiber and its seed. The seed was cooked with
barley and other grains and eaten. In 1537 Dioscorides called the
plant Cannabis Sativa, the scientific name that stands today as its
true name. He noted its use in "the stoutest cords" and also its
medicinal properties (2). Hemp was introduced into Chile about 1545
(3) where it was grown for fiber. Hemp was introduced in New England
soon after Puritan Immigrants settled, noting that it grew "twice so
high"(4). In Virginia the early legislature passed many acts to
promote the hemp industry. Before the revolution hemp seems to have
flourished in the area around Lancaster PA. Hemp was first grown in
Kentucky in 1775 (5). In 1802 two extensive Ropewalks were built in
Lexington Kentucky. There was also announced a machine that could
break "eight thousand weight of hemp per day"(6), a huge quantity for
the time. Hemp spread to other states including Missouri by 1835,
Champaign IL by 1875, Nebraska by 1887, California by 1912 (7),
Minnesota by 1880 (8), Wisconsin and Iowa by the early 1920Us. The
cultivation of hemp was stalled by federal action in 1937 by the
imposition of a heavy tax on producers known as the Marijuana Tax
Act. By 1940 the US government reduced the tax so production could
take place during WW II. After WW II, with the heavy tax, cultivation
declined until 1968 when the last legal crop was grown in Minnesota
    1 Yearbook of the Dept of Yearbook of the Dept of Agriculture, L
Dewey, Pg. 296, 1913:
    2 Dioscorides. Medica Materia, li bri sex, pg 147, 1537;
    3 Husbands, Jose D, US Dept of Agriculture, Bureau of Plant
Industry, Bulletin #153, pg 42, 1909;
    4 Yearbook of the Dept of Agriculture, L Dewey, pg 291, 1913;
    5 Moore, Brent. A study of the past, the present and future of
the hemp industry in Kentucky, p 16,1905;
    6 Michaux, Andre, Travels to the west of the Alleghenies, pg 152,
    7 Yearbook of the Dept of Agriculture, L Dewey, pg 293, 1913;
    8 Schoenrock Ruth, Hemp in Minnesota During the war time
emergency, pg15,1966;
    9 Robinson, Bob Dr., Hemp experimenter at U of MN 1960-1968
Uploaded by John Birrenbach, founder of the Institute for Hemp