History of Hemp

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The term hemp gets thrown around quite a bit in our culture, with many people still being unsure of it’s actual definition. Hemp is a species of the Cannabis sativa plant, legally defined as having less than 0.3% THC. Although marijuana and hemp both come from the same species of plant, they are different varieties of Cannabis all together. First, hemp has low levels of THC and a high CBD concentration. Conversely, marijuana typically has high levels of THC and low levels of CBD.

Hemp is one of the oldest industries on earth, dating back 10,000 years to the origins of pottery in Central Asia.  It was also one of the first plants to be spun into functional fiber and made its way to North America in the Colonial Era. The founding fathers wrote early drafts of the Declaration of Independence on hemp. Moreover, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp, while all Americans farmers were legally obligated to grow as a staple crop. President Abraham Lincoln was also known to use hemp seed oil to fuel his lamps. During this time Irish doctor, Sir William Brooke O’Shaughnessy, published findings in regards to how hemp helped with cholera and digestive issues. The medical field then began using hemp seed oil as a medical treatment in the United States, India, and parts of Europe. 

In 1916, the USDA officially published discoveries showing that hemp produces 4x more paper per acre than trees. Hemp was being recognized as necessary commodity with numerous uses.  This all changed in 1937 with Congress passing the Marihuana Act, beginning an era of hemp prohibition. The newly enacted licensing and tax regulations made hemp farming extremely challenging for Americans. In addition, the government began to push anti-marihuana ideals toward the public, resulting in misnomers for years to come.

By 1942, World War II had prompted a resurgence of American hemp production. The attack on Pearl Harbor closed “manila hemp” fiber production in the Philippines, sparking a world-wide shortage. The USDA’s film “Hemp for Victory” pushed for American farmers to grow hemp for the war effort. The government then established the War Hemp Industries Department and financed hemp farming. American farmers grew about a million acres of hemp as part of the effort, but the government then shut down production after the war had ended.  Throughout the 1937-1960s, the government recognized the obvious  differences between industrial hemp & marijuana. Unfortunately, the government went back to its original stance with the passing of the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, categorizing hemp as an Schedule 1 drug.

As the late 1990s and early 2000’s approached, the United States government began allowing businesses to import hemp products for cosmetics, clothing & textiles.  Barack Obama’s signing of the Farm Bill in 2014 helped paved the way for the hemp industry today. Section 7606 of the statute “Legitimacy of Industrial Hemp Research” gave pilot states and higher learning institutions the right to cultivate hemp under the guise of research.  Hemp (defined as cannabis with less than 0.3% THC) and its derivatives were removed as a Schedule 1 controlled substance through the passage of the Agricultural Improvement Act (Farm Bill) of 2018.  The Farm Bill differentiated hemp from marijuana, creating a legal distinction. As the hemp movement grew, farmers had licensed over 500,000 acres of hemp across 34 states by 2019. Today, countries such as China, Canada, and various European nations are ahead of the United States in terms of hemp usage and production. For example, China has a massive hemp textile business, while Canada is a major exporter of hemp derived goods to the American market. Here in America, the hemp industry continues to grow at a rapid rate, as more states are now allowing for hemp cultivation.

What daily products do you use that are hemp-derived?

Hemp History https://www.thehia.org/history
History of Hemp in the US https://ministryofhemp.com/hemp/history/
Hemp https://www.britannica.com/plant/hemp

History of CBD

history of cbd

Cannabinoids were first discovered in 1940 by British chemist, Robert S Cahn. Several years later, Roger Adams isolated the individual cannabinoids, including CBD. At the time, researchers had little understanding of the cannabinoid structure itself or which cannabinoid was causing which effect. That all changed in 1963, when Israeli organic chemist, Raphael Mechoulam pinpointed the stereochemistry of CBD. A short time later, Dr. Mechoulam also uncovered the chemistry behind THC. His discovery created a clear line of separation between the two compounds and established CBD as a compound which lacks the mind-altering effects associated with THC. Throughout the 1980’s, Mechoulam would conduct several studies on the use of CBD for treatment of epilepsy. Although Mechoulam claimed the test looked promising, there was no concrete publication substantiating the actual results.

By the 1990’s, further interest in the healing properties associated with cannabinoids led to the discovery of the body’s Endocannabinoid system. In 1998, GW Pharmaceuticals initiated official medical trials to better grasp the potential uses of CBD. Such efforts prompted other global studies performed by medical groups and set the path for clinical efforts on CBD moving forward. In the mid-2000s, America was introduced to a young girl, Charlotte Figi. She was born with an extremely rare form of chronic epilepsy known as Dravet Syndrome. By age four, she had lost a majority of her mobility and was experiencing 300 seizures a week. After exhausting every form of modern medicine, her parents turned to CBD oil as a remedy. Miraculously, Charlotte’s seizures decreased by 99% and most of her normal bodily functions were restored.  The media attention surrounding her story thrust CBD into the public consciousness, while people took note of its medicinal benefits. In 2014, another milestone occurred with the legalization of medical CBD in Alabama, Florida, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah & Wisconsin. This was the first time CBD was legally accepted in a state where medical marijuana was illegal.

Most recently, the 2018 United States Farm Bill legalized hemp (defined as cannabis with less than 0.3% THC) on a federal level. This also paved the way for legal cultivation, possession, sale and distribution of the hemp plant. These efforts all helped prompt the rise of CBD. In June of 2018, another milestone in the CBD space occurred with the FDA’s approval of the drug Epidiolex. The drug, it’s active ingredient being CBD, is used in the treatment of seizures and two distinct pediatric diseases. It’s worth noting that approval of Epidiolex was based on sufficient and properly-controlled clinical studies, implying confidence in the drug’s safety and effectiveness for its specified use. Today, the usage and science behind CBD continue to grow as people are continuously experiencing the healing benefits. The future looks bright and we cannot wait to be a part of it!

The History of CBD: Where Does It Come from (2019) https://www.cbdcentral.com/the-history-of-cbd/
CBD and Epilepsy: Charlotte’s Web https://www.zamnesia.com/content/337-cbd-and-epilepsy-charlotte-s-story
Hemp Production and the 2018 Farm Bill (2019) https://www.fda.gov/news-events/congressional-testimony/hemp-production-and-2018-farm-bill-07252019