The Origins of Smoking Hemp

by | Jul 28, 2020 | Culture | 0 comments

We should always practice consciousness about what we put in our bodies—after all, we only get one! In light of our new products, CBD pre-rolls & loose flower in two groovy strains, Lifter and Suver Haze, we wanted to take y’all all the way back to the beginning of hemp history…

The most comprehensive history of hemp usage dates back to 2,737 BCE, when Chinese Emperor Shen Neng began to use it as medicine. While the fibers of the plant had been used as far back as 8,000 BCE in Taiwan for weaving, the actual practice of smoking became popularized in herbal and medicinal guides in China. In India, hemp was named one of the 5 sacred plants in the year 2,000 BCE and used as offerings for the god, Shiva. Marijuana was used as an anesthetic during childbirth in Jerusalem and written about in the Jewish Talmud. From here, the method of smoking became more and more commonplace throughout history. 

When Christopher Columbus colonized the Americas in 1492, he also found a rich tradition of smoking tobacco. He brought this back to Europe, where people adopted the practice, often adding their own herbs to make the tobacco taste better. This habit quickly became commonplace for sailors, artists and soldiers, who would spend time in smokehouses (the equivalent of today’s coffeehouses) after work. Some Dutch painters depict these practices, but these paintings often served as warnings not to participate in smoking cannabis, as it was against church morals. Although it was seen as morally wrong, the hemp industry began to grow. 

In 1600, England began importing hemp from Russia. Around this same time, the settlers in Jamestown began cultivating hemp crops to use for fibers. This sudden flood of hemp allowed much more research to be done. Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy outlined a treatment for depression involving smoking marijuana, and scientists officially give the plant the latin name cannabis sativa. 

In the Americas, cannabis became a major crop and by 1840 was available in most pharmacies as an everyday medicine. It is mentioned as an ‘intoxicant’ for the first time in 1850 by John Greenleaf Whittier, but was still widely accepted in pharmacology. However, this changed in 1910, as Mexican immigrants brought their own traditions of smoking for recreational purposes to the United States after fleeing the Mexican revolution. Beginning in 1914, the narrative surrounding hemp changes. In the Harrison Act of 1914, the use of cannabis is defined as a criminal act, along with the use of many other drugs and is outlawed in many states including California (1915), Texas (1919), Louisiana (1924) New York (1927). 

As Prohibition started in the United States, many turned to marijuana as an attractive alternative, despite its being criminalized by the 1914 act. When Prohibition was overturned in 1933, attention was quickly turned to the outlawing of cannabis consumption which led to the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act. This act sought to once again criminalize cannabis and was contested by physicians who testify to there being little-to-no ill effects of the drug. Despite this, the United States ceases to recognize cannabis for its medicinal properties and republishes their Pharmacopeia to exclude it. 

More recently, the War on Drugs under President Reagan further punished those who use marijuana. Harsh minimum sentencing laws forced many Americans into jail