Hemp is one of the most ancient, cultivated plant species on the planet. We now have evidence of its use dating back an incredible 5000 years, with the likelihood of it being grown and used even beyond that. Historically, it’s believed hemp has over 25,000 uses, including textiles, paper building materials, eco-fuel, eco-plastic, paint, nutrition and medicine. Yet still, even with this extraordinary level of real world application as a ceremonial, spiritual, medicinal, structural plant with a seemingly endless array of uses, we still face scepticism and a skewed perception of cannabis – simply another name for hemp – after a comparably short stint of century-long propaganda and misinformation.
As a brand not only invested in, but impassioned by this remarkable plant, it is part of our goal to help re-educate the world and spread awareness about the wonders of cannabis, and how it remains arguably the most significant plant species in human history.
The first paper was made out of hemp
Paper is something we take for granted now, but thousands of years ago the lack of something so simple meant that written records were very scarce – carved into stone, or painted onto walls. However, in around 150BC (yes, we’ve been cultivating hemp for THAT long!) the Chinese produced the first paper entirely out of pounded and disintegrated hemp fibre. This marked a monumental jump forward, offering the opportunity for wisdom to be passed down with ease and clarity from ancient masters. We now know that hemp was used to make the world's oldest piece of paper, recovered from a tomb near Xi'an in Shaanxi province dating from 140-87 BC.
Hemp was essential for England’s economic growth
It’s hard to imagine that a plant could play such a vital role in economics, but cannabis doesn’t do things by halves. From around 800AD, hemp became the most important crop in the UK and was used to make clothes, ship sails, ropes, paper, fishing nets, fuel, medicine and much more. At that time, it far exceeded cotton cultivation. In fact, it was so integral to the economic growth and overall progress in the UK that Henry VIII famously ordered all farmers to grow an acre of hemp for every 60 acres of other agricultural crop.
“Hemp for Victory”
Even after the cannabis prohibition began in 1914 (which later included a complete ban on even THC industrial hemp), hemp was still needed for many reasons. But to keep things quiet the US often imported from other countries. However, World War II changed this and, in an act which goes against the decision(s) to prevent anyone from growing or using hemp, the US and Canadian governments actually encouraged farmers to grow the plant for the war effort. More than 120,000 pounds of hemp fibre was needed to rig the 44-gun USS Constitution, America’s oldest navy ship – and that’s just one example.
During this period, the United States Department of Agriculture released the film “Hemp for Victory”, which stated, “In 1942, patriotic farmers at the government’s request planted 36,000 acres of seed hemp, an increase of several thousand per cent. The goal for 1943 is 50,000 acres of seed hemp.”
Naturally, many farmers rose to the task as requested of them. But once the war was over the ban was put back into place.
Building with hemp could halve UK carbon emissions
In 2010, The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills published a report on Low Carbon Construction which revealed that almost 47% of the UK’s carbon dioxide emissions stemmed from building materials, such as steel and re-enforced concrete. At such a critical time for climate change action, this was (and still is) clearly something that needed to be addressed – fortunately, we already had the answer: ‘Hempcrete’.
In stark contrast to these problematic materials, hemp offered a solution that not only served as a high performance, energy efficient alternative, but it actually absorbs atmospheric Co2, releases water vapour and strengthens over time.
Building with hemp is something that has been done for an incredibly long time, but now we are seeing the drastic positive impact it can have, both as a way going forward and to undo some of the damage looking back.
Hemp could help save the planet
A new study performed at Cornell University published in the journal of Environmental Entomology found that bees love cannabis plants, and researchers are now exploring how this information could help revive the dwindling numbers of these essential pollinators. Hemp also has the ability to restore soil fertility, by leaving behind densely nutritious remnants and strengthening the earth with its deep roots. We can create bio-degradable plastics from hemp, to replace the terrifying levels of regular plastic making its way to our landfills and oceans every year. It can eliminate toxic waste from its surrounding environment – including radiation, as demonstrated at the Fukushima site. It can replace trees as a source for paper and wood, without causing deforestation. It can help clear air pollution and conserve water (as it takes far, far less water to grow than cotton). It could even help feed millions of starving, undernourished people all across the globe.
Hemp – which is just a form of cannabis – is something we all need. It’s time to change perceptions and bring this plant back to the forefront where it rightfully belongs.