The Rich Global History of Cannabis Hemp

c. 8000 BCE

The early origins of Cannabis are not perfectly clear, but believed to be the highlands of the Himalayas. Hemp was there when the textile industry began circa 8000 BCE.

"The earliest known woven fabric was apparently of Hemp, which began to be worked in the eighth millennium (8000 - 7000 BCE)." -

Columbia History of the World,
Harper & Row, 1981

c. 2700 BCE

China. Shen Nung's Pen Ts'ao, the world's oldest medical text, calls Cannabis ('ma') a superior herb. Subsequent additions list more than 100 ailments for which Cannabis was prescribed.

c. 1800 BCE

References to "plant medical marijuana" begin to appear in Ancient Egyptian medical texts.

One of the few remaining pieces of the Ramesseum III Papyrus (c. 1700 BCE) describes a medical use for Cannabis.

Others include the Berlin Papyrus (1300 BCE) and the Chester Beatty VI Papyrus (1300 BCE). The Ebers Papyrus, the oldest known complete medical textbook in existence, describes medical marijuana c. 1550 BCE. Most scholars believe that it is copy of a much earlier text from around 3100 BCE.

c. 700 BCE

Morter and pestle found in shaman's tomb was used to grind Cannabis

A man in the Gobi desert is buried with nearly two pounds of marijuana, in what is the world's oldest known stash. He was most likely a shaman.

NBC News - World's Oldest Stash

c. 100 BCE

Paper is invented using Hemp and Mulberry. Civilization greatly advances due to this Chinese invention. China becomes known as the "Land of Mulberry and Hemp".

Cannabis is used for sustainable paper to this day, and prior to 1883 up to 90% of the world's paper was made from hemp.


Hempe is first listed in an English dictionary, derived from the German Hanf.


Christopher Columbus sets sail to 'discover' the 'New World' with a fleet of ships each decked out with 80 tons of Hemp sails and rigging.

Anything made from canvas including sails was made from Hemp. The Dutch word canvas derived from Cannabis.


Queen Elizabeth I

Queen Elizabeth I orders land owners with 60 acres or more to grow Hemp or face a £5 fine.

1564: King Philip of Spain orders Hemp to be grown throughout the Spanish empire, from Argentina to Oregon.


Settlers bring Hemp with them to cultivate, but don't grow enough to suit England. All farmers are ordered to grow Hemp in Jamestown, Virginia in 1619. Similar laws were enacted in Massachusetts in 1631, Connecticut in 1632 and the Chesapeake Colonies in the mid-1700's. From 1631 until the early 1800's, Hemp was used as legal money, with which one could buy goods and pay bills.

Mayflower hemp sails


The Swedish father of botany, Carolus Linnaeus, standardizes the botanical name 'Cannabis sativa', was was first used as early as 1548. Biologist Jean-Baptiste de Lamarck names a second species 'Cannabis indica' in 1785.

Much later in 1924 Russian botanist D. E. Janichevsky names a third species 'Cannabis ruderalis' in central Russia.


The Declaration of Independence is drafted by Thomas Jefferson on sustainable Hemp paper. Jefferson grew Hemp at Monticello.


The war of 1812 is fought until 1814. The oceanic Hemp trade plays a central role with Napolean attempting to cut off the Russian Hemp supply from Britain. Kentucky builds domestic Hemp production to reduce dependence on foreign Hemp.

Today, Hemp could reduce global dependence on petroleum oil and help reverse global warming.


Irish physician Sir William O'Shaughnessy is credited with introducing medical Cannabis to Western medicine. Soon, Cannabis tincture become the most used pain reliever, made by most US pharmaceutical companies, including Merck, Eli Lilly, Upjohn, Abbott labs, Squibb, and Pfizer.


Congress passes the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act, its first attempt to control recreational use of drugs. The bill was focused on opiates, and this 1914 Federal Reserve Note shows a Hemp farmer.

California bans Cannabis medicinal preparations in 1913. Marijuana prohibition passes in Utah in 1915, with other states following shortly thereafter. Wyoming (1915), Texas (1919), Iowa (1923), Nevada (1923), Oregon (1923), Washington (1923), Arkansas (1923), Nebraska and New York (1927). - California 1913 Laws


The Marihuana Tax Act sneakily ushers in the petro-chemical age by making Hemp expensive. Hearst and Dupont profit for years to come while the Earth suffers.


Popular Science calls Hemp "The New Billion Dollar Crop" in 1938 based on the decorticator, a new invention with the potential to industrialize Hemp harvesting.


World War II. The USDA produces a film, Hemp For Victory, encouraging farmers to grow Hemp. Farmers are made to watch the film. Later Jack Herer officially re-submits the film to the Library of Congress.


President Richard Nixon appoints the bipartisan Shafer Commission which recommends decriminalization, and then ignores their findings. Later he becomes the only US President to resign from office.


California becomes the first state to legalize medical use in the USA, followed by Alaska, Washington, and Oregon in 1998, Maine in 1999, Colorado, Nevada, and Hawaii in 2000, Vermont and Montana in 2004, Rhode Island in 2006, New Mexico in 2007, Michigan in 2008, Illinois and New Jersey in 2009. Pennsylvania has pending legislation. Ten states, plus the District of Columbia, have symbolic medical marijuana laws (laws that support medical marijuana but do not provide patients with legal protection under state law).


Marc Emery, a business man and Cannabis activist, is arrested and extradited to the USA for alleged crimes committed entirely in Canada. The DEA admits in a letter that this arrest had political motivations, in a vain attempt to cripple the global legalization movement. The movement galvanized behind him, yet he was finally sent to American prison in 2010.


16 American states and DC now have medical Cannabis laws. The Obama administration continues the brutality under the absurd "no accepted medical use" stance, threatening state officials and imprisoning innocent practitioners and patients. Reps. Paul and Frank introduce a landmark bi-partisan decriminalization bill.


The people of Colorado and Washington legalize marijuana for recreational purposes in the Nov 2012 elections. The Obama administration announces it will not challenge the new laws (Aug 2013). 20 American states and DC now have medical Cannabis laws.

The regulatory battles continue to be fought over medical Cannabis, and Hemp is still somehow fighting to simply be included in the debate over soaring debts and deepening climate/energy/weather crises.

Compiled by Degauss

Other Hemp Timelines:
Hemp History Week.


Hemp-Sisters timeline of misinformation.

Johnny Marijuanaseed.