Hemp is a very adaptable plant. It grows from the Equator to the Arctic Circle. Hemp is a so-called “culture-accompanying plant” because it has always accompanied mankind on its way on earth.
It’s wild form can be found in the Altai Mountains, on the border between China, Mongolia and Russia.
Hemp is probably the first plant cultivated by man. Hemp-cultivating agricultural societies developed in Mesopotamia between Euphrates and Tigris, in the Nile delta in Egypt and in China.
In the course of migrations, hemp spread around the whole world. The Scythians probably brought it to Europe.
In old Slavic settlements, hemp seeds and blossoms were found as grave supplements. The old sailors needed large quantities of hemp for their ships. Everywhere, where a naval power landed, hemp was cultivated.
The oil of hemp seeds was used as lamp oil and as cooking oil. Clothes, ropes, ropes and sails were made from the fibers, medicine was made from the flowers and seeds.
In ancient cultures, the cultivation of hemp was primarily a matter for women. This tradition lived on, i.g. in Switzerland, until the beginning of our century. With the Germanic tribes the goddess Freya was responsible for hemp.
The first paper in the world was made from hemp and mulberry tree in China.
One of the first written testimonies about hemp comes from there. The legendary emperor Schen Nung is said to have written the “Pen Tsao”, a work about the medical use of hemp, in 2800 B.C., yet researchers assume it was rather in the years 200-300. There are further written testimonies from Mesopotamia (800-600 VuZ.) and Egypt (1600 VuZ.).
Hemp probably already arrived in America with the Vikings, at the latest with Columbus. The Spanish fleet cultivated hemp in America for the production of ropes and sails.
Birds, amonst people, were involved in the worldwide spread of hemp, since its popular amongst them as a nutritious, and therefore important source of food.
Although Cannabis has been banned today by international agreements and its cultivation is either forbidden or subject to conditions, the worldwide figures of hemp cultivation have been rising again since 1992.
First attempts to illegalize Cannabis were made with the first meetings of the League of Nations. A xenophobic campaign against minorities began in the USA. At that time, xenophobic articles in the tabloid press and without any scientific basis were used to create a mood against Cannabis and it’s consumers, mostly ethnic minorities. These bans were consolidated through the United Nations.
Literature sources: Conrad, Hemp, Lifeline to the future, 1993; Herer, Warum wir wieder Hanf…, Zweitausendeins 1992; Rätsch, Hanf als Heilmittel, Der Grüne Zweig; Haag, Hanfkultur weltweit, Edition Rauschkunde, European Industrial Hemp Association
Learn more about the plant hemp in Germany’s only hemp museum: Hanf Museum Berlin