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What is hemp?

What is Hemp? Its History and Relationship to Cannabis.

Due to hemp’s relationship with cannabis, many people disregard hemp and a useful, versatile, and beneficial plant. The fact is, hemp has a deep and complex history. As it continues to make headlines for a variety of reasons, we seek to help you better understand this complicated, under-appreciated, and versatile plant. 

The History of Hemp

For over 10,000 years, hemp has been planted, cultivated, and harvested by humans for a variety of reasons. This is substantial, as agricultural practices often shift. Interestingly, hemp has remained a steadfast and constant resource for many societies. 

To get to know the hemp plant more, we must look back to ancient Mesopotamia and China for answers.

Applications for the hemp plant focused on the fibers of the plant. From hemp fibers, societies created textiles and rope, which evolved into paper, sailing materials, garments as technology progressed. 

Hemp is mentioned in many old texts, displaying the significant role it played in different cultures.  

According to The Yearbook (1913) of the United States Department of Agriculture, “Hemp was probably the earliest plant cultivated for the production of a textile fiber.

Ancient Chinese Hemp Farmers Making Clothes

The “Lu Shi,” a Chinese work of the Sung dynasty, about 500 A.D., contains a statement that the Emperor Shen Nung, in the twenty-eighth century B.C., first taught the people of China to cultivate “ma” (hemp) for making hempen cloth.”

According to The Columbia History of the World (1996), the oldest relic of human history is a piece of hemp fabric that dates back to 8,000 BCE. This displays the profound history of this plant in the Eastern regions of the world.   

Historians also point to the prevalent mention of hemp used for medicinal purposes throughout ancient times. 

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Again, Emperor Shen Nung appears to be a part of hemp’s narrative.

Interestingly, the leader, known as the “Father of Chinese Medicine,” believed that hemp, known as “ma,” represented the yin and yang of bodily balance. (symbol for “ma” to the left)

More specifically, he mentions using hemp topicals and salves to alleviate a variety of ailments. 

Others who referenced hemp for medicinal purposes include: 

  • Pliny the Elder, a philosopher in the Ancient Roman Empire 
  • Dioscorides, a physician in Ancient Greece  
  • Major religions, like Hinduism and Buddhism 

As you learn more about present-day uses and conversations surrounding hemp, keeping its history in mind is vital. 

Hemp in The United States 

Hemp, specifically in the United States, has a complicated history.  

Not only was George Washington the first President of the United States, but he grew hemp on his famous Mt. Vernon estate. According to communications from the Mt. Vernon historic site, Washington even once considered that hemp might be a more lucrative crop than tobacco. 

Despite the founding fathers and their ties to hemp cultivation, The United States as a whole has had a tumultuous relationship with hemp. 

It formally began with the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act. The passage of this law initiated a tax on the sale of cannabis (psychoactive products, like THC) and imposed restrictions on the cultivation of hemp as an industrial crop. Interestingly, politics were at play through the passage of the bill, as many key players sought to boost the economics of other textile producing synthetics.

While the hemp crop became more governed, efforts to boost its production continued.  

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In 1942, the Hemp for Victory campaign was launched. The campaign encouraged US farmers to grow hemp as a part of the WWII homefront effort. It’s estimated that hundreds of thousands of acres of hemp were planted as a result of the patriotic campaign.  

If we fast forward a few decades, we see a complete shift in how US political figures and government agencies treat hemp. 

During the height of the “hippy” movement, and amid a contentious Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement, The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act was passed in 1971.

The law specifically sought to confront drug abuse and classified substances into different schedules. More specifically, marijuana and cannabis were listed as a Schedule I drug, alongside the likes of heroin and ecstasy, and said to have no medical or therapeutic potential.  

This put a definite halt in all things cannabis and hemp in the United States, leading to decades of political disputes, disproportionate and biased prison sentences, and a society that would be impacted by this shift for generations.

Cannabis vs. Hemp: What is Hemp? 

Essentially, the Controlled Substances Act lumped cannabis and hemp into a single category. This took years to “undo” in the minds of those who were taught that hemp was synonymous with THC, “getting high,” and violent crime.   

Decades later, in 2018, the United States federal government reissued their definition of hemp, helping to pave the way for hemp research and the cultivation of hemp products. Per the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp is no longer a Schedule I substance and “to include a cannabis plant, or derivative thereof, that contains not more than 0.3 percent delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (“THC”) on a dry-weight basis.”  

So, what is hemp exactly? 

Hemp is cannabis that contains no more than 0.3% THC.  

Cannabis, on the other hand, contains higher levels of THC. For example, states with legal medical and recreational marijuana programs grow cannabis containing THC levels up to 30%.  

As you can see, it took a long time for things to shift in the United States – nearly five decades to appeal, educate, and undo the misinformation surrounding hemp and cannabis, which just recently paved the way for legal cannabis and hemp products.  

How Does Infinite CBD Use Hemp?

Infinite CBD uses organic Colorado-grown hemp to create premium and high-quality CBD products. 

From the hemp plant, our scientists are able to extract phytocannabinoids, like CBD, and create a variety of products. At Infinite CBD, we believe that hemp and CBD can play a role in creating a positive lifestyle.

Through the creation of our products, we aim to continue to champion hemp as a versatile and beneficial plant.