The History of Hemp: From Ancient Times to Modern Day

Cannabis, also known as hemp, is a close relative of the common hops found in beer. It evolved about 28 million years ago in the eastern Tibetan plateau and still grows wild in Central Asia. Hemp, or industrial hemp, is a botanical class of Cannabis sativa cultivars that are specifically cultivated for industrial or medicinal use. It can be used to manufacture a wide range of products, such as paper, rope, textiles, clothing, biodegradable plastics, paints, insulation, biofuels, food and animal feed.

Hemp is one of the fastest-growing plants on Earth and was one of the first plants to become usable fiber 50,000 years ago. George Washington imported the hemp plant from India from Asia, which was used as fiber and, by some producers, for the production of intoxicating resin. During World War II farmers were encouraged to grow hemp as a rope, replacing Manila hemp that was formerly obtained in Japanese-controlled areas. The porous materiality of hemp insulation allows air and moisture to penetrate, with an apparent density of up to 20% without losing any thermal properties.

In the early 1990s, industrial hemp agriculture in North America began with the University of Manitoba's Hemp Awareness Committee. Hemp for Victory, a short documentary produced by the United States Department of Agriculture during World War II, was released to encourage farmers to grow hemp for the war effort. HEMP as a construction material provides solutions to a variety of problems faced by current construction regulations. Completed nine years later, the buildings were discovered to be one of the most technologically advanced structures made of hemp-based material.

In the early 17th century, the colonies of Virginia, Massachusetts and Connecticut required farmers to grow hemp. These diseases rarely affect the performance of a hemp field, so hemp production is not traditionally dependent on the use of pesticides. The first to initiate modern research into the potential of cannabis was the state of Tasmania, which pioneered the licensing of hemp in the early 1990s. Hemp insulation is naturally lightweight and non-toxic, allowing for exposed installation in a variety of spaces, including floors, walls and ceilings.

Traditionally, hemp stalks were first moistened with water before the fibers were separated by hand from the inner fiber - a process known as cutting. As mechanical technology evolved, the separation of the fiber from the core was achieved by grinding rollers and brush rollers or by hammer milling. HEMP plants can be vulnerable to several pathogens such as bacteria, fungi, nematodes, viruses and other diverse pathogens. The cognates of hemp in other Germanic languages include Dutch hennep, Danish and Norwegian hamp, Saterland Frisian hoamp, German hanf, Icelandic hampur and Swedish underworld.

Micaela de Gallardo
Micaela de Gallardo

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