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The History of Hemp

The History of Hemp

By Meredith Summers   |   August 05, 2019

The Historical  Importance of Hemp

Some events in history are nearly impossible to forget. Names like Abraham Lincoln and dates like 1776 are just burned into our brains at this point. And yet, sometimes these major events tend to drive out some of the less sensational solutions that humankind has managed to accomplish.

And this may not be such a good thing, especially when it comes to how we view hemp today. This incredibly useful and versatile plant has already proven itself to people all over the world — long before there were scientists and researchers in the lab were able to confirm it all. See why it may make sense to learn more about its history before you dismiss it completely. 

It All Started in 1500 BC…And Earlier

Hemp may have been first spotted for the durability of its fibers far before the historical proof was ever admissible. From ropes to clothing, hemp has been used for a variety of inedible purposes to keep our ancestors protected from the natural elements and the inevitable chaos of their world. 

From sails, to rope to clothing, hemp fiber has been known to be one of the strongest naturally occuring fibers in the world, making it essential to many ancient cultures. 

But we also  know that around 1500 BC, people started consuming hemp for its unique properties. Hemp was likely given to one of the most enduring historical figures of all time — Jesus Christ — when he was on the cross. The wine that was given to him would have likely been some version of a hemp/wine combination based on the historical knowledge of that time period. 

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In the 1800s, Queen Victoria was known for using it during her monthly cycle, and she started a bit of a movement when it came to the industry. The popularity of the product was unparalleled during her reign. Even in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the United States was entirely onboard with cannabis, listing over 100 suggested uses for the plant.

Horray for Hemp! By Royal Decree

Unsurprisingly (given Queen Victoria’s propensity for hemp) Great Britain has a lot of history when it comes to cannabis. In the 1500s, Henry VIII had farmers grow the plant to help the Naval Fleet. They used it for their ships, sails, and pendants. They even used the fibers to make the maps. In the 1600s, farmers in the New England states were also ordered to grow certain varieties of hemp. If they weren’t growing it by the early 1700s, they could have gotten into legal trouble (talk about a role reversal).

Hemp has been used as currency, and bales of hemp were common on shipping registers from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in the United States. One of the most compelling uses of hemp in U.S. history was the manufacture of hemp rope and fibers during WWI, bringing both war support and industrial growth to the nation.

Going Back to Our Literal Roots 

It’s not always the right thing to look to our ancestors when it comes to achieving a better world. There are plenty of things to criticize earlier generations for when it came to their problem-solving approaches (ahem: slavery, snake oils, mass displacement of native populations etc.). But hemp isn’t one of them! CBD is a part of the cannabis plant that won’t get a person high, but may help them feel better in a variety of ways. The plant has been known and used for centuries for its natural health-supporting properties. And it’s high time people started accepting it the way our ancestors used to. 

CBD American Shaman has watched the cannabis debate take place, and we’re certain that things are changing in the industry. We can only hope that politicians and pharmaceutical companies don’t come together to destroy or corporatize what is really one of the  most natural ingredients in the world. We’ll continue to fight on the side of the people by offering high quality organic products that they can’t find anywhere else. Luckily, like those who came before us, our results speak for themselves.


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