10,000 BC: In Taiwan, the earliest-known hemp relic in existence.
8000 BC: In China, the earliest known cloth fabric is woven
5500 BC: Earliest known depiction of hemp in existence from Kyushu Island, Japan
4500 BC: China: Hemp is used for rope and
4000 BC: China uses hemp foods.
c. 3500 BC: Hemp rope was used in the construction of the pyramids because its great strength was ideal for working with large blocks of stone.
2800 BC: China makes first rope from hemp fiber.
2800 BC: Lu Shi (500 AD) mentions an Emperor who taught people to use hemp at 2800 BC.
2700 BC: China: Hemp was used for fiber, oil, and as a
medicine. Examples of each were purposefully left in tombs with bodies.
1200 BC: Hemp cloth found in tomb of Pharaoh Alchanaten at El amarona. Records of apothecary form the time of Ramses III suggest hemp's use for an ophthalmic prescription.
c. 1100 BC: City of Carthage uses hemp to dominate Mediterranean Sea as hemp is used in ships, rope, and as medicine.
1000 BC: Hemp is cultivated in India.
650 BC: Hemp is mentioned in cuneiform tablets.
450 BC: Greek historian Herodus claims that "hemp garments are
as fine as linen." From Asia to Afghanistan to Egypt,
hemp was widely cultivated for its fiber.
c. 400 BC: Buddha was nourished with hempseed.
300 BC: A Carthaginian galley sank near Sicily was found with hemp onboard that was still identifiable after 2,300 years of salt water exposure.
200 BC: Greek Moschion wrote of hemp ropes used in the flagship Syracusi, and other ships of the fleet of Hiero II.
2nd Century BC: Roman writer Pausanaius noted hemp was grown in Elide.
100 BC: Chinese make paper (oldest surviving piece)
from hemp and mulberry.
1st Century AD: Pliny recommends hemp from Alabanda, a city of Cairn, in Asia Minor as the best hemp.
1st Century AD: Lucius Columella writing during the time of Agustus put forward hemp cultivation methods.
70: Hemp cultivated for the first time in England. By
400, hemp was a well-established crop.
3rd Century: Sample of hemp paper with Sanskrit characters in India.
500-1000: Hemp cultivation spreads throughout
600: Germans, Franks, Vikings, etc. make paper, sails,
rope, etc. from Hemp.
6th century: A hemp-reinforced bridge is built in
France. The bridge actually petrified and is still strong
7th Century: First known mention of hemp as a medicine in work of Suskota in India.
716: Shoes are constructed from hemp.
850: Viking Ships used hemp for their sails, ropes,
fishing nets, lines and caulking.
8th Century: Arabs capture Chinese craftsman and learn to make paper from hemp.
8th Century: Japan Princess Shotoku sponsored the first recorded printing in her country using hemp. Japan continued to use hemp throughout thier history. Shinto priests, and royal family wore special hempen clothes.
10th Century: A treatise on hunting by Syrian Sid Mohammed El Mangali records hemp's use for game netting, and hemp seeds for bird lime. Hemp was used in these times in the mid-east as food, lamp oil, paper and medicine.
1000: Europe introduces hemp butter.
1000: The English word 'Hempe' first listed in a
1150: Moslems use Hemp to start Europe's first paper
mill. Most paper is made from hemp for next 850
Middle Ages: Knights drank hemp beer.
1215: Magna Charta was printed on Hemp paper.
14-15th Century: Renaissance artists committed their
masterpieces to hemp canvas.
1456: Guttenberg Bible printed on hemp paper.
1492: Hemp sails and ropes make Columbus's trip to
America possible (other fibers would have decayed
somewhere in mid-Atlantic).
1494: Hemp papermaking starts in England.
1535: Henry VIII passes an act stating that all
landowners must sow 1/4 acre, or be fined.
1537: Hemp receives the name Cannabis Sativa, the
scientific name that stands today.
1563: Queen Elizabeth I decrees that land owners with
60 acres or more must grow hemp or else face a £5
1564: King Philip of Spain follows lead of Queen
Elizabeth and orders hemp to be grown throughout his
Empire from modern-day Argentina to Oregon.
16th Century: Hemp has wide cultivation in Europe for
its fiber and its seed, which was cooked with barley and
other grains and eaten.
c. 1600: Galileo's scientific observation notes
written on hemp paper.
16th-18th Century: Hemp was a major fiber crop in
Russia, Europe and North America. Ropes and sails were
made of hemp because of its great strength and its
resistance to rotting. Hemp's other historical uses were
of course paper (bibles, government documents, bank
notes) and textiles (paper, canvas), but also paint,
printing inks, varnishes, and building materials. Hemp
was a major crop until the 1920's, supplying the world
with its main supply of food and fiber (80% of clothing
was made from Hemp).
17th Century: Dutch Masters, such as Van Gogh and
Rembrandt, painted on hemp canvas. In fact the word
canvas derives from the word "cannabis".
1807: Napoleon signs a Treaty with Russia, which cuts
off all legal Russian hemp trade with Britain. Then The
Czar refuses to enforce the Treaty and turns a blind eye
to Britain's illegal trade in Hemp.
1812 -- 24th June: Napoleon invades Russia aiming to put
an end to Britain's main supply of Hemp. By the end of
the year the Russian winter and army had destroyed most
of Napoleon's invading forces. The Royal Navy depended on
the Russian hemp to stay afloat during their war with the
U.S., the War of 1812.
1545: Hemp was introduced into Chile, then in 1554 to
1606: French Botanist Louis Hebert planted the first
hemp crop in North America in Port Royal, Acadia
(present-day Nova Scotia).
1611: British start cultivating hemp in Virginia.
1631: Hemp used for bartering throughout American
1619: It became illegal in Jamestown, Virginia not to
grow hemp because it was such a vital resource.
Massachusetts and Connecticut passed similar laws in
1631, and 1632.
17-18th Century: Hemp was legal tender in most of the
Americas. It was even used to pay taxes, to encourage
farmers to grow more, to ensure America's
1715, 1726 and 1730: Pro-hemp acts were signed to cut
European imports, to help the struggling colonies, who
spun hemp cloth, and printed bibles and maps on hemp
paper, drive for self-sufficiency.
1720 - 1870: Every township in Lancaster County
Pennsylvania grew hemp, flourishing just before the
Revolution. There were more than 100 mills that processed
1775: Hemp was first grown in Kentucky.
18th Century: Benjamin Franklin started the first Hemp
paper mill. This allowed America to have its own supply
of paper (not from England) for the colonial press.
Thomas Paine's patriotic literature, which helped spark
the revolution, was printed on hemp.
1776: Declaration of Independence drafted on Hemp
paper. The U.S. Constitution was also printed on hemp
paper fourteen years later.
18th Century: Betsy Ross sews first American flag out
1791: President Washington sets duties on Hemp to
encourage domestic industry. Both George Washington and
Thomas Jefferson grew hemp on their plantations.
Make the most of the hemp seed. Sow it everywhere. --George Washington
Hemp is of first necessity to the wealth and
prosperity of the nation. -- Thomas Jefferson
1801: Canada, on behalf of the King of England,
distributed hemp seed free to farmers.
19th Century: Hemp became the first crop to be
subsidized in Canada.
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" a huge
quantity for the time.
1812: War of: Sailors outfitted and propelled the U.S.
frigate Constitution "Old Ironsides" with more than 60
tons of hempen rope and sail.
Early 19th Century: The advent of steam and oil
powered ships reduced demand for hempen rigging.
19th Century: Center of hemp production shifted to the
1835: Hemp spreads to Missouri. Hemp grown at
1850: The United States Census counted 8,327 hemp
plantations growing it for cloth, canvas, and other
After 1850: Hemp lost ground to cheaper products made
of cotton, jute, sisal and petroleum. Hemp was processed
by hand, which was very labor intensive and costly, not
lending itself towards modern commercial production.
1863: Abraham Lincoln wrote the Emancipation
Proclamation under light of hemp oil lamp.
1875: Hemp is introduced to Champaign IL, Minnesota by
1880, Nebraska by 1887, California by 1912, and Wisconsin
and Iowa by the early 1920s.
Late 19th Century: The American west was tamed with
hemp lassos and hemp canvas covered wagons. Hemp oil was
used extensively in lighting oil, paints, and
Late 19th & early 20th centuries: Increasing labor
costs encouraged a gradual shift away from hemp to
cotton, jute, and tropical fibers which were less labor
intensive. Hemp was used only for cordage and specialty
products like birdseed and varnish.
1892: Rudolph Diesel invented diesel engine, intended
especially for vegetable and seed oils.
1915: California outlaws Cannabis.
1916: Recognizing that timber supplies are finite,
USDA Bulletin 404 calls for new program of expansion of
Hemp to replace uses of timber by industry.
1917: American George W. Schlichten patented a new
machine for separating the fiber from the internal woody
core ("hurds"), reducing labor costs by over 90% and
increasing fiber yield by 600%. That, combined with
new technology to fashion paper and plastics from
hemp-derived cellulose, gradually breathed new life into
1919: Texas outlaws cannabis.
1920-1940: Economic power is consolidated in hands of
small number of steel, oil and munitions companies, such
as Dupont, which became the US's primary munitions
manufacturer. Dupont developed and patented fuel
additives such as tetraethyl lead and other petroleum
based products like nylon, cellophane and plastics during
this time. Mexican rebels seize prime timberland from
land belonging to newspaper magnate, paper and timber
baron, William Randolph Hearst.
1920-1970: Oil Barons Rockefeller, Standard Oil, and
Rothschild of Shell, etc., realized the possibilities of
Henry Ford's vision of cheap methanol fuel, so they kept
oil prices at between one dollar and four dollars a
barrel (almost 42 gallons in a barrel), so that no other
energy source could compete with it, until 1970, after
all competition was erased, when the price of oil jumped
to almost $40/barrol over the next 10 years.
1931: Andrew Mellon, The Treasury Secretary, and Head
of Bank of Pittsburgh, which loaned Dupont 80% of its
money, appoints his niece's husband, Harry J. Anslinger, to
head newly formed Federal Bureau of Narcotics (later
becoming the DEA).
1930s: Following action by the Federal Bureau of
Narcotics and a campaign by William Randolph Hearst,
propaganda is created against hemp from companies with
vested interest in the new petroleum-based synthetic
textiles. Even though hemp reinvented itself, thanks to
new technology that eased processing and expanded its
use, the timber (Hearst) and oil interests (Dupont,
Anslinger, Mellon) crushed competition from plant-based
cellulose by demonizing marijuana, and paralleling its
use to Mexican immigrants and later Black jazz musicians.
The effects of marijuana are demonized with such movies
as "Marijuana: assassin of youth," Devil's weed," and
"Reefer Madness." Throughout this assault hemp's link to
marijuana is exaggerated.
1937: DuPont Corporation patents processes for making
plastics from oil and coal. The Marijuana Tax Act is
passed, a prohibitive tax on hemp in the USA, effectively
destroying the industry. Anslinger testifies to congress
that 'Marijuana' is the most violence causing drug known
to man. The objections by the American Medical
Association (The AMA only realized that 'Marijuana' was
in fact Cannabis or Hemp two days before the start of
hearing) and the National Oil Seed Institute are
1937 - late 60s: US government understood and
acknowledged that Industrial Hemp and marijuana were not
the same plant.
1938: Popular Mechanics magazine, nearly at the same
time as the Marijuana tax act goes into effect, touts
hemp as first "billion dollar crop" and lists over 25,000
In 1938: Canada prohibits marijuana, and thus hemp
production, under the Opium and Narcotics Control
1940: World production of hemp peaked at about 832,000
tons of fiber.
1941: Popular Mechanics Magazine reveals details of
Henry Ford's plastic car made using hemp and fueled from
hemp. Henry Ford continued to illegally grow hemp for
some years after the Federal ban, hoping to become
independent of the petroleum industry.
1941-1945: Hemp for Victory
During World War II, Japan cut off our supplies of
vital hemp and coarse fibers. The hemp was needed for
making, among other things, rope, webbing, and canvas, to
be used on navy ships. So a program was started to grow
hemp for military use under the banner of "Hemp For
Victory". After the war, licenses were subsequently
revoked; concurrent with the last hemp crops being
grown in the U.K.
The U. S. Department of Agriculture
released an educational film called "Hemp for Victory",
which showed farmers how to grow and harvest industrial
hemp. Hemp harvesting machinery was made available at low
or no cost. From 1942 to 1945, farmers who agreed to grow
hemp were waived from serving in the military, along with
their sons; that's how vitally important hemp was to
America during World War II. The fields of hemp were
termed victory gardens, as were the backyard vegetable gardens also urged by the government.
1942: Patriotic farmers plant 36,000 acres of seed
hemp, an increase of several thousand percent from the
1943: Both the US and German governments urge their
patriotic farmers to grow hemp for the war effort. The US
shows farmers a short film - 'Hemp for Victory' which the
government later pretends never existed. The United
States government has published numerous reports and
other documents on hemp dating back to the beginnings of
1945: The war ends and so does "Hemp for Victory".
Feral hemp, "ditch weed", still lines the back roads,
waterways, and irrigation ditches of most Midwestern
states, 60 years descended from "Hemp for Victory!"
1961: UN treaty allows for the cultivation of
1968: The last legal hemp crop is grown in
1970: The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) of 1970
recognizes industrial hemp as marijuana, despite the fact
that a specific exemption for hemp was included in the
CSA under the definition of marijuana. "Marijuana
Transfer Tax" declared unconstitutional by the US Supreme
1971: In Canada, cannabis, thus industrial hemp,
became caught up in the politics of the Opiate laws and
became classed as a restricted plant under the misuse of
1970s: 'Spinning Jenny' is invented and cotton prices
fall dramatically, making hemp's demise in the Americas
Early 1990s: Global hemp production sank to its lowest
1991: Hempcore become the first British company to
obtain a license to grow hemp.
Since 1992: France, the Netherlands, England,
Switzerland, Spain, and Germany have passed legislation
allowing for the commercial cultivation of low-THC hemp.
In fact, the E.U. has recently been promoting hemp
cultivation by providing subsidies of approximately $1400
per hectare to grow hemp.
1992: 124,000 tonnes of hemp fiber are produced by
mainly India, China, Russia, Korea and Romania, countries
where the cultivation of hemp has never been
1994: One license granted to Canadian company, Hempline
Inc., to grow low-THC hemp under the strict supervision
of the authorities, for research purposes only. President
Clinton included hemp as a strategic food source in an
1995: In England, The Cornish Hemp Company Ltd was set
up to produce hemp and set up the infrastructure to
realize the current potential for industry.
1996: The American Farm Bureau Federation, the largest
farming organization in the United States with 4.6
million members, passed a resolution unanimously to
research hemp and grow test plots.
1998: March: Canada passes proposed regulations, and
as a result hemp can be grown commercially in Canada for
the first time in sixty years.
1998: The Oglala Sioux Tribe on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota legalized hemp.
1998: While running for governor, Jesse Ventura
announces his support for industrial hemp. Within weeks
Venturaís numbers jump from 7% to 38%.
1999: 14 States introduced legislation that endorsed
the commercialization of industrial hemp with varying
success. Hawaii gets permit from DEA to plant an
industrial hemp test field.
2000-2002: Alex White Plume grows hemp on Pine Ridge
Lakota Sioux reservation in SD and the DEA destroy the
crops near harvest time, not making any arrests, thereby
distinguishing between marijuana and hemp.
Nov. 2000: Alex White Plume and his family receive
hemp from the Kentucky Hemp Growers to replace the hemp
destroyed in the two years prior by the DEA.
2001: "Hemp car" crosses North America using hemp
bio-diesel fuel, stops in Watertown SD.
Oct. 9, 2001: DEA arbitrarily bans all hemp foods in
order to disrupt the domestic market. Hemp importers and
their suppliers sue. Supreme Court temporarily injoins
implementation of DEA's unilateral proclamation. Still in
May 2002: South Dakota becomes first state to get the
issue of industrial hemp farming on the state ballot. A
poll indicates that 85% of registered South Dakotans
favor legalizing industrial hemp.
Aug 2002: Alex White Plume becomes first farmer since
1968 to cultivate and sell a hemp crop in the United
States. The crop is bought by Madison Hemp &
Flax, a Kentucky company.
Nov 2002: So. Dak. voters reject industrial hemp, but
38% vote for it. Hemp wins on Indian reservations.
Feb. 2004: 9th Circuit US Court of Appeals holds that
DEA can not regulate hemp foods.
Currently: Hawaii's, West Virginia's, Minnesota's, Montana's, and North Dakota's legislatures have passed laws removing state barriers to hemp production, but the federal government refuses to allow them to grow hemp.
To review the history of hemp policy within the US and on an international scale, as well as during war time, some of the following degree programs could be useful.
An Online Masters in History, a Masters Degree in Military US History and a Diplomacy Relations Graduate Programs can all provide you with the information you are looking for.
Resources for Hemp
Abel, Ernest. Marijuana, The First 12,000 Years (Plenum Press, New York 1980)
Conrad, Chris: Hemp: Lifeline to the Future (©1993 Chris Conrad, Los Angeles)
Herer, Jack: The Emperor Wears No Clothes,
(©1985 HEMP Publishing, Van Nuys CA)
Michaux, Andre, Travels to the West of the
Moore, Brent. A study of the past, the present and
future of the hemp industry in Kentucky, 1905
Robinson, Bob, "Dr. Hemp", experimenter at U. of MN
Roulac, John: Hemp Horizons
Schoenrock Ruth, Hemp in Minnesota During the
Stratford, Peter. Psychedelics Encyclopaedia (ISBN 0-9114171-51-8)
Yearbook of the Dept of Agriculture, 1913
US Dept of Agriculture, Bureau of Plant
Industry, Bulletin #153, 1909