Article by Maverick Baker, Interesting Engineering
Preceding the 1900’s, cannabis was once one of the most significant crops for mankind. It was only in the past century when men forbid its cultivation, grinding cannabis production and all of its subsidiary parts to a halt.
The plant is rooted deep in humanity’s history and was likely the earliest cultivated plant for its textile fiber. Despite many countries’ recent regressions revoking the laws in which made cannabis illegal in the first place, it is largely recognized as a plant with no other use other than “getting people high”.
But cannabis is not one sole entity. It is rather a collection of a family of plants consisting of sativas, indicas, and ruderalis. Cannabis Sativa and indica plants are renowned for their psychoactive effects, but there is a variety of Cannabis Sativa which is grown specifically for its derived products.
The plant in question, otherwise known as hemp – or industrial hemp – is the seed or fibrous part of the Cannabis Sativa, whereas the flower of the plant is legally regarded as marijuana. Unlike marijuana, hemp does not possess a significant amount of psychoactive chemicals and as such, cannot be used to get “high”.
Hemp has been cultivated for thousands of years and has been extensively used in the fabrication of paper, rope, cloth, and medicine. It has played an integral role in the progression of humanity, but despite its practical applications, hemp continues to be prohibited throughout most of the modern world.
“Archaeologists found a remnant of hemp cloth in ancient Mesopotamia (currently Iran and Iraq) which dates back to 8,000 BC. Hemp is also believed to be the oldest example of human industry. In the Lu Shi, a Chinese work of the Sung dynasty (500 AD), we find reference to the Emperor Shen Nung (28th century BC) who taught his people to cultivate hemp for cloth. It is believed that hemp made it to Europe in approximately 1,200 BC. From there, it spread throughout the ancient world.” claims a report by MIT.