Hemp History Timeline
Through the Years
1606: French Botanist Louis Hebert planted the first hemp crop in North America in Port Royal, Acadia (present-day Nova Scotia).
1770s: In Virginia (and some other colonies), farmers are required by law to grow hemp.
1776: The U.S. Declaration of Independence is drafted on hemp paper.
1797: The U.S.S. Constitution is outfitted with hemp sails and rigging.
1790s: U.S. founding fathers George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams grow hemp.
1800s: Upper Canada’s Lieutenant Governor, on behalf of the King of England, distributed free hemp seed to Canadian farmers.
1840s: Abraham Lincoln uses hemp oil to fuel his household lamps.
1890s: USDA Chief Botanist begins growing hemp varieties at the current site of the Pentagon and continues until the 1940s.
1916: USDA (Bulletin No. 404) shows that hemp produces four times more paper per acres than trees!
1928: The Canadian House of Commons encourages Canadian farmers to grow hemp.
1937: Hemp was strictly regulated by the Marijuana Tax Act, largely due to confusion with other kinds of cannabis. Hemp could only be grown through specially issued government tax stamps, making any type of possession/transfer without a tax stamp illegal.
1938: Popular Mechanics Magazine determines that over 25,000 different products could be made from hemp and declares hemp as the “New Billion Dollar Crop.”
1942: Henry Ford builds an experimental car with panels partially made from hemp fibre. That same year, without any changes to the Marijuana Tax Act, the United States Army used their Hemp for Victory campaign to urge farmers to grow hemp to support them in World War II. Between 1942 and 1945, the U.S. cultivated 400,000 acres of hemp for their war effort.
1957: Once World War II had ended, demand for hemp decreased and so did hemp production. The last commercial hemp fields were planted in 1957 in Wisconsin.
1970: The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act went into effect abolishing the taxation approach of the Marijuana Tax Act, effectively making all cultivation of cannabis illegal by setting a zero tolerance for THC.
1992: Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods’ Co-Founder Martin begins importing and manufacturing handmade hemp items.
1993: Martin conducts research and establishes important relationships with farmers and government leaders.
1994: Martin organizes industrial hemp events and helps establish the University of Manitoba Hemp Awareness Committee (UMHAC).
1995: UMHAC becomes the Manitoba Hemp Alliance and lobbies the Government of Manitoba for assistance in advancing hemp agriculture. Harry Enns, Manitoba’s Agriculture Minister at the time, approves a funding grant and offers the services of a New Crops Agronomist. In less than nine months, the first hemp crops are harvested.
1996: Hemp trial results indicate that hemp can be grown with undetectable amounts (less than 0.003%) of THC.
1998: Industrial hemp is legalized in Canada! Hemp foods begin exporting to the U.S.
1999: North Dakota, Minnesota, and Hawaii legalize the growing of industrial hemp at state level, but federally, industrial hemp is still illegal to grow in the U.S.
2001: The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) begins a campaign to make sales of all hemp foods illegal in the U.S. The Hemp Industries Association (HIA), Dr. Bronner’s, and other companies that offer hemp products take legal action against the DEA.
2004: Ninth Circuit Court rules in favour of the Hemp Industries Association and protects sales of hemp foods and body care products in the U.S.
2006: New innovations in hemp processing and new hemp products hit the market.
2010: Hemp Industries Association estimates $419 million in U.S. retail sales of hemp products.
2012: A record setting year in terms of the number of industrial hemp acres seeded in Canada. The number of acres is nine times the acres seeded in 1998 when industrial hemp was legalized.
2013: Annual U.S. retail sales of hemp products exceeds $581 million. Industrial hemp celebrates fifteen years of legalization in Canada.
2014: U.S. President Barack Obama signs Federal Farm Bill with hemp amendment, allowing states with hemp legislation in place to grow hemp for research purposes.
2015: Hemp food industry pioneers Manitoba Harvest and Hemp Oil Canada merge.
2016: Product innovations continue and hemp as an ingredient gains popularity, making hemp foods easier than ever to add into everyday eating.
Back in the 1700s, farmers in certain U.S. colonies were required by law to grow hemp as an essential crop.