Breaking Down the History of Hemp

July 5th, 2018

In today’s society, the perception of hemp and its uses is largely confined to the sociopolitical debate over the legality of marijuana. However, the story of hemp goes back much further than most people realize. In fact, the origins of human hemp cultivation date back as far as 8,000 BCE and may very well extend further than scientific research can confirm.

As the culture and attitude surrounding hemp changes in the present, there shines an opportunity for people across all generations to gain perspective on how hemp fits into the course of human history. Innovative Separations recognizes the impact that hemp has had — and continues to have — on our society. With that in mind, we’ve outlined some of the different uses and ideologies surrounding hemp which have changed significantly over the course of its long and storied history.  

Ancient Agriculture

Up until approximately the 20th century, hemp remained one of the most significant crops in the history of mankind. Using carbon dating, scientists have determined that a piece of cloth containing hemp originated over 10,000 years ago in ancient Mesopotamia — making it one of the oldest cultivated crops in human history. This finding indicates that hemp may have been among the first plants used to create textiles in the ancient world. From there, scientists and historians estimate that hemp surfaced in Europe in roughly 1,200 BCE, where it was subsequently spread throughout the remainder of the ancient world.

Worldwide Use

As hemp made its way across the developing world, people began to find more and more uses for the versatile plant. Around 150 BCE, the Chinese used hemp to develop the first paper ever created. In fact, many of the oldest Buddhist writings ever discovered were written on a combination of hemp and other materials.

As human understanding of hemp grew, so did the list of ways to utilize the plant. Many European countries began using it to create canvas, rope, and textiles for use on ships. In approximately 1535 CE, King Henry VIII of England even issued fines and punishments to those who did not grow hemp on their land. From this point up until the 1920’s, hemp textiles were among the primary materials used to make clothing throughout countries on nearly every continent, including North America.


Despite hemp’s rich history and range of available benefits, most people immediately associate the plant with the widespread prohibition that took place in the 1930’s. This comes as no surprise, as America’s aversion to cannabis and those who use the plant is well-documented in the history books. From the 1936 propaganda film Reefer Madness to the Reagan Administration’s “War on Drugs,” much of the 20th century was spent trying to suppress and eradicate hemp from public reach. Approaching the turn of the 21st century, however, individual states and their citizens began to recognize the health benefits of cannabis, with California leading the charge for legal medicinal use in 1996. Over the last twenty years, this reborn idea of cannabis as a tool for mental and physical health has exploded, leading us to where we stand today.

Present Day

While not everyone (and certainly not every lawmaker) is sold on the idea of legal cannabis, the tide is surely starting to turn. As of now, eight states have rescinded laws prohibiting the use of cannabis and made it recreationally legal and taxable throughout their state. Additionally, twenty-nine states have legalized some form of medicinal use for the plant. Despite federal illegality, the ideological change surrounding cannabis seems to have taken hold — giving much hope for full national legality in the not-so-distant future.  

At Innovative Separations, we aim to create some of the best CBD oils possible by handling every step in the growing process — from seed to extraction. We are proud to produce all-natural CBD oil in southern Oregon with the hope of providing relief to as many Americans as possible. To learn more about Innovative Separations, CBD extract, or our process, feel free to call 800-787-0018 today.

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