Hemp History Timeline – A Look At Hemp Through The Ages

Hemp History

With the recent hemp craze in full swing, many of the folks who enjoy hemp today are unaware of it’s significant role throughout human history. Indeed Hemp’s first appearance in human history dates back 12000 years but that is not to say that it was not used before this.

As Hemp, CBD and Marijuana inevitably continue to grow in acceptance and understanding, we are sure more and more people will want to have a look at this colourful and storied human history throughout time:

10,000 BC – Hemp Shows Up In Taiwan

Hemp makes its first know appearance in a neolithic site in Yuang Shan, Taiwan where a piece of potter was discovered including hempen cord. There was also a stone beater which was used to pound the hemp.

8,000 BC – A Hemp Cloth Relic is discovered in Ancient Mesopotamia.

This is one of the oldest relics in human history suggesting Hemp was the first plant cultivated by humans around the world.

4,000 BC – Hemp Is Know To Have Been Used Widely In China.

Hemp In Ancient China

Hemp and silk textiles were found in another neolithic site in Zhejiang Province and hemp cloth is discovered elsewhere in China.

Hemp is said to have been used widely for clothing in China as silk was a luxury of the wealthy and cotton had not been introduced from Africa at this time.

Around this time, plenty of other Hemp textiles, cloths were found, leading to the belief that hemp was widely cultivated at this time.

3,500 BC – Hemp Shows Up In Egypt.

Hemp was used as rope in the construction of the pyramids according to the pyramid texts. noted for its effectiveness.

3,000 BC – Evidence That Hemp Was Used As Food In China.

Hemp History In Ancient China

In Liangzhu province, remains of consumed hemp were found on pottery objects excavated from a house in Lin-Chu. Carbonised Hemp fruit were also found at the site.

2,700 BC – Hemp Used As Medicine in China.

While it was probably used long before this, the first recorded use of hemp and cannabis as medicine by Emperor Shen Neng in China.

2,500 BC – Hemp Makes It’s Appearance In Mongolia.

Microlithic burial pits in Mongolia have contained hemp items which were used in the burial process in Inner Mongolia

2,300 BC – First Written Record Of Hemp In A Book

Shu Chingi is one of the oldest books recorded that humans have access to and it spoke of hoe the Shantung Province was laden with hemp. How its warlords used Hemp in the uniforms were woven with hemp cord and the strings in their bows were made of hemp. Hemp was used in their helmets, buckles and clothing, hardened with the use of vinegar.

Hemp was of upmost importance and was grown around every lords castle to provide for their military efforts. It was also paid by the royals by the peasants as a gift

2,000 BC – Around This Time In History Hemp Begins To Show Up All Around The World

1,500 BC – The Shang Culture Are Self Sufficient Agriculturally Using Hemp

The Shang Culture live along the Huang river and are known to have been self sufficient economically, by creating a Hemp weaving industry and they are said to have had a superior method for making Hempen garments.

1,400 BC Hemp Shows up in India

Records of Hemp show up in India around this time and it is said to have been a very central player in their cultures, held in high esteem. It is referred to as “Sacred Grass” and is used widely for medicine, food and clothing.

It is referred to as Bhanga and is brought in as gifts by the Scythians.

Hemp is the favourite food of deity Indra and is considered a holy plant by the Indians.

1,300 BC Scythians raid Europe Bringing Hemp with them

Scythians Raid Europe and Asia, introducing and growing hemp heavily in their new territories.

1,200 BC Plant Shows up Again In Egypt

Hemp cloth is found in the tomb of Pharaoh Alchanaten which dates back to around this time in history.

1,100 BC The Phygrian Empire Weave with hemp for their war efforts

Hemp clothing and textiles found in excavations of their sites near Ankara in Turkey.

800 BC The Punic People Dominated The Mediterranean Sea Used Hemp

The Punic people dominated for about 400 years until they were crushed by the Romans. Shipwrecks found belonging to the punic show that they may have used Hemp stems in large quantities for Caulking

600 BC – Hemp Enters Greece And Russia With Human Migrants  From Asia

Hemp comes from Asia through Greece And Russia and continues on into Europe where it is heavily harvested.

500 BC Greek Writer Herodotus Writes Extensively About Hemp

Hemp Male And Female

Herodotus speaks of how the Scythians were introduced to Hemp by the Thracians who had defeated them in battle. He also goes on to mention how the Scythians now used Hemp in their burial rituals. He also mentions how they grew hemp far and wide.

The practice of fumigating with hemp was commonplace for the Scythians.

200 BC Hemp Rope Is Used In Greek Ships

The tyrant Hiero 2 bragged about how he used ‘Superior’ Hemp to make rope, suggesting that it was more durable than conventional ropes

140 BC Evidence That China Is Using Hemp For Paper

The first hemp paper extracts are found in various tombs dating back to this period. different materials are used to make hemp paper in different parts of China including mulberry and bamboo. Hemp was noted as being tough, durable and waterproof.

79 AD – The Roman Empires Use Of Hemp Begins To Surface

Carbonised Hemp Seeds are found in Pompeii from the eruption of Mt Vesuvius in 79AD.

Hemp is also mentioned by Galen in De Facultatibus Alimentorum which states that the Romans made cannabis pastries at their parties to promote hilarity.

A Physician in Nero’s army also notes marijuana and hemp as part of his pharmacopeia.

100 AD – Stash Box For Hashish Shows Up In Siberia

A Samaritan gold and glass paste container used for keeping precious herbs including marijuana is found in a Siberian Tomb.

140 AD – Hemp shows up in Britain

Hemp shows up in a Roman fort in Britain that was occupied in 140 AD. The romans brought hemp to Britain and Hemp rope was recovered. Hemp would not be culitvated in Britain still for some time.

140 AD – Chinese Doctor Uses Hemp as Anesthetic

Chinese Doctor Hua Tuo use “Hemp Wine” and “Hemp Powder” as anesthetic during surgeries he performed at the time.

Around this time Medical marijuana is also being used in Greece.

400 AD Hemp Is First Cultivated In Britain

Hemp is first cultivated in Britain at Old Buckeham Mare for the first time.

570 AD French Queen Buried in Hemp

The French Queen Arnemunde was draped in Hemp cloth when she was buried in 570 AD which shows the hemp was held in high esteem at this time in Europe.

770 AD – First Paper Book Is Made With Hemp In China

Darani, a book of prayers is the first religious book made using hemp paper.

800 AD – The Vikings Rely On Hemp As They Invade And Conquer

The Vikings relied on Hemp ropes, sailcloth, caulking, and fishing lines on their great adventures and they may have introduced hemp to Northern America at this time. They also consumed hemp seed for food. They also introduced hemp to Denmark and Iceland.

900 – 1000 Ad – Hemp Becomes A Popular Talking Point In Arabia

Ibn Wahshiyah wrote about hashish in his book “Poison”, warning that it can be a deadly substance. This at a time when debate about eating hashish was widespread. He is most likely to have meant that it was deadly, not on its own but when combined with other intoxicants.

Aqrabadhin of Al-Samarqandi an Arabic medic writes that hempseed can be used as a enema in certain cases of colic.

1150 AD – The Persian saint Haydar Discovers Cannabis

The Persian saint Haydar who founded the Sufi Hadari, who sometime call hemp the wine of Haydar, is given credit for discovering the mental effects of hemp on the mind. On a walk alone one day he discovered it’s inebriating effects and shared with his followers.

1253 AD – Garden of Cafour – Hashish Garden In Cairo Is Attacked And Closed By The Army

Cannabis Use For Pleasure Is Rampant In Egypt and the military moves in to try and stop those who indulge. The Hashish Garden of Cafour is attacked and closed and harsh penalties are imposed on those who partake. The apparently doesn’t no dissuade its use.

1320 Ad – Hashish Pipe Found in Ethiopia

A hashish pipe found in Ethiopia suggests that smoking cannabis for pleasure has spread from Egypt around the rest of Northern Africa.

Indeed, the writer A. T. Bryant notes how various tribes may have smoked cannabis before battle and how other tribes were not permitted to do so. Hemp was smoked through an antelopes horn at the time.

1393 AD – Maqrizi, Egyptian Historian writes of the popularity Of ‘Kif’ among the people.

Many North African people smoke kif, which they carry in a mottoni (pouch). Each compartment contains a different grade of Kif that is offered to guests according to the degree of respect or friendship due to them. Kif is smoked in chquofa, clay pipes designed for the purpose

1490 AD – The Pope Decries Cannabis And Its Use In Witchcraft

The Pope issues a Fiat warning of the use of hemp in witchcraft.

1492 AD – Christopher Columbus Sets Off For The New Found Lands

Columbus Hemp Sails

His Sail cloth and rope were made entirely from Hemp due to its inherent toughness and durability.

1533 AD – Hemp Becomes Compulsory For Farmers To Grow In Britain

Hemp had become so important to Britain’s dominance at see that King Henry ordered that 1/4 acre be used for hemp out of 60 acres tilled. Queen Elizabeth repeated these orders in 1563 but it was repealed in 1593. It is said that the British were also importing hemp from Russia at this time for their sea efforts.

1545 AD – There is a shortage of Hemp as few countries produce enough to meet their needs

The Spanish planted Hemp successfully in Chile at this time in the hopes that they could use it for rope and sail cloth.

The Dutch used the power of their windwills to crush hemp and this gave them a huge advantage with the savings in labor.

Hemp was so vital in the great sailing age that the word canvas derives from the word cannabis.

1600  First Hemp Is Cultivated In The New Found Land

English Settlers In Jamestown first cultivate hemp in the new found land. They use the hemp for clothing, rope, sail cloth and other textiles.

1611 King James 1 Instructs The Investigation Of Hemp For Trade

King James releases the Book of Rates which includes Hemp and instructs his commission on Trade to study hemp as a commodity.

1630  – Pilgrims Bring Hemp To New England

Pilgrims from the east begin cultivating hemp for clothing, rope and paper. Hemp clothed young America at this time as resentment towards the English grew and the clothes from England couldnt be afforded by the regular people so they began spinning their own hempen clothing.

1700 – Us Farmers Required by law to Grow Hemp

US farmers in Virginia and several other colonies are required by law to grow hemp for its many uses or face a severe fine or even prison time. This occurred as demand for Hemp from England far exceeded production around this time.

1762  – Hemp Is Used As Legal Tender

Hemp can be used as legal tender and is more valuable than cash in these times.

Medical Marijuana also appears in a New England Dispensary.

1776  – The Constitution of The United States Is Drafted On Hemp Paper

Founding Fathers

The Constitution and Declaration of Independence are both drafted using Dutch Hemp paper.

1776 – Continental army fighters under George Washington are clothed in hemp

The patriots wives and mothers spin clothing out of hemp. It is said they would frozen to death in Valley forge without hemp.

1794  – Construction Of The USS Constitution Requires 120 Lbs Of Hemp

USS Constitution

The construction of The USS Constitution is build using 120 Lbs of hemp for its lining, rope and sail cloth. The boat still survives to this day and is the first US Navy ship ever built.

1798  – Napoleon Bans Hemp Use In Egypt

Napoleon launches a total prohibition on Hemp in Egypt as his soldiers are using it to get high in place of alcohol which is banned in Egypt and he is worried about its effects on the troops.

1800  – US Founding Founders Are Using Hemp

US Founding Founders Are Know To Have Been Using Hemp For It’s Benefits around this time.

Abraham Lincoln is known to have used hemp seed oil in his lamps, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and John Adams are all growing hemp to extol its benefits.


1842 – Irish physician, O’Shaughnessy, begins writing about marijuana For British Medical Journals.

1850 – Marijuana Is Widely used In The USA as a medicinal Drug

Marijuana is in common use in the States and is readily available in pharmacies during this period.

1850 – United States Consensus finds over 8000 Hemp farms in the USA

Hemp Fields

The Census counts that there are over 8000 farms each of which is 2000 acres or more large.

1890 AD – Queen Victory Is Given Cannabis By Her Physician

Sir Reynolds went on to say that cannabis is one of the finest medicines we possess.

1900 AD – Immigrants from Mexico introduce marijuana for recreational use

A flux of immigrants from Mexico introduce marijuana for recreational use and it quickly becomes popular and widespread.

1914 – Government Signs Harrison Narcotics Act

This would be the first attempt by the government to control the use of recreational substances.

1916 – US Government Produces Report On Hemp vs Trees

The US government publishes a report on how an acre of hemp can produce 4 times as much paper as an acre of trees and can grow much more quickly.

1920 – Dupont Is US Governments official Supplier of Munitions

Dupont as a company is gaining a lot of leverage within the government. The will and intentions of Dupont will eventually lead to prohibition. Dupont created the first synthetic fibre around this time which was a competitor to hemp.

1925 – The Panama Canal Zone Report Is Commissioned

It is conducted over worries of soldiers ingesting marijuana and the report finds no harmful effects

1936 – William Hearst Newspaper Goes Into Propaganda Overdrive

William Hearst’s newspaper continuously blasts marijuana as a substance that elicits crazed behaviour in those who ingest it. This would lead partly to the marihuana tax act being introduced

1937 – The Marihuana Tax Act Effectively Begins Prohibition

The new imposes new regulation and taxation that effectively makes hemp production very difficult, while still allowing for the difference between marijuana and hemp. The Tax Act was promoted extensively by Harry Anslinger who went on to encourage prohibition all around the world.

1940 AD – Henry Ford Builds The Model T With Hemp Panels

The Hemp Plastic Panels on the model T has an impact strength ten times that of steel. It is also build to run on hemp seed oil.

1941 – Japans Attack On Pearl Harbour Cuts Off US Hemp Supply From Philippines.

Japans attack on Pearl Harbour lead to the United States joining world war 2 but it also cut off the US supply of hemp from the Philippians. As hemp was so crucial to the war effort, the US government released a “Hemp for Victory” campaign which lead to a million acres of hemp being grown throughout the war.

1970 – The Controlled Substances Act No Longer Recognises The Difference Between Marijuana And Hemp

1976 – The Ford Administration Bans Research Into Cannabis For Medicinal Purposes

1990 – The American Drug War Turns Ugly

390,000 Americans are arrested in 1900 on Marijuana related offences.

1998 – America Begins To Import Hemp Seed and Oil

2004 – Hemp Industries Association Beats The DEA in Ninth Circuit Court

This leads to the protection of Hemp foods and Body care products in The USA.

2007 – 2 Hemp Growing Licenses Are Issued In North Dakota

The first hemp licenses issued in over 50 years.

2018 – The US Farms Act Is Passed – Industrial Hemp Is Legal Again

A huge win for hemp which has lead to the booming hemp and CBD industries