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A Brief Journey Through the History of Hemp

Cannabis sativa in a Vintage Book

Ever worn a hemp-based t-shirt, nibbled on some hemp seeds, or tried one of our top-tier CBD products? If you have, then you’ve enjoyed something with 10,000 years of history behind it.

Hemp has been a part of human society for millennia. It has a history as long and fascinating as the list of things it can be used for, and has shaped the cultural and economic development of the world since the start – but not without sparking some controversy along the way.

Here at BudBros, we believe in the power and potential of hemp to make a positive change in people’s lives. Read on for our brief recap of hemp’s history, from its ancient applications to its current revival.

The Ancient Roots of Hemp

Hemp is a variety of Cannabis sativa, a plant species that first evolved about 28 million years ago on the eastern Tibetan Plateau. It looks nearly identical to its cousin marijuana, but has one key difference: it contains very low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound responsible for the cannabis “high.”

The exact origins of hemp cultivation are hard to pinpoint, but it’s believed to have started in Central Asia over ten thousand years ago; archaeological evidence of hemp has been found in China and Taiwan dating back to around 8,000 BCE.

Turning the Silk Road Green

As trade routes expanded, so did hemp’s influence. It eventually found its way to India, most likely through the Silk Road – the vast network of Eurasian trade routes active from the second century BCE until the mid-15th century.

The cultivation of hemp continued to spread to the Middle East from there, with historical records indicating its use in ancient civilisations such as Mesopotamia and Persia. Eventually, the plant reached Europe, where it became an important crop for fibre production. The plant’s use in sailing ropes and canvas also contributed in a major way to maritime exploration and trade during the Age of Discovery.

Hemp's Journey to the New World

Hemp’s journey continued to the New World, with European settlers bringing it to the American colonies in the early 1600s. Its fibres were essential for crafting sails, clothing, and paper, which is why some colonies actually used hemp cultivation as a form of taxation.

Hemp’s popularity even reached the very top. A few of the Founding Fathers, like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, were known to have grown hemp themselves, and drafts of the US Constitution were actually written on hemp paper!

Budding Problems

Hemp continued to be cultivated globally for fibre, food, and oil well into the late 1900s, but this would all change at the turn of the century. Many countries started restricting the growth and sale of hemp due to its association with marijuana, coupled with the spread of misinformation and racial prejudice.

The Dangerous Drugs Act of 1928 saw hemp completely banned in the UK, following years of increasingly strict regulations. Across the pond, the US’s Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 lumped hemp together with marijuana, imposing major restrictions and fueling widespread misconceptions. It would take almost fifty years for attitudes to begin to shift in the other direction.

Hemp’s Renaissance Period

The latter part of the 20th century saw a renewed interest in hemp. Many countries began revisiting their regulations, recognising the difference between hemp and marijuana and acknowledging its economic, environmental, and health benefits. The UK government lifted the ban on hemp cultivation in 1993, and the US’s Farm Bill in 2018 legalised industrial hemp cultivation statewide.

As of the 21st century, hemp is experiencing a renaissance. Its versatile fibres have become key to sustainable textile production, and hemp-derived CBD products (like the kind offered by BudBros!) have exploded in popularity for their potential health benefits. Today, the global hemp industry is thriving – it’s believed that the global market could hit $18.6 billion by 2027, almost four times the amount in 2020!

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The history of hemp is a story of adaptation, resilience, and rediscovery. Evolving from a valuable trading tool into a solution to modern eco concerns, it’s played a key role in shaping society into what it is today – and it will keep doing so for millenia to come.

After experiencing the many benefits of hemp ourselves, we at BudBros are passionate about its ability to boost health and happiness. Our mission is simple: we want to share this potential with people across the UK through our premium CBD products, including flowers, hash, and more.

Want to give it a try? Check out our full range of CBD products here!