Shen Yeng


Evidence of hemp cultivation was discovered in an ancient village in Taiwan dating back over 12,000 years, and the first reported medicinal use of hemp or cannabis dates back to around 2900 BC in ancient China. The Chinese emperor Shen Yeng, considered by many to be the father of Chinese medicine, believed that hemp had medicinal properties and could be used for a wide variety of ailments. He frequently drank tea made with the plant. Yeng authored a text known as the Pen Ts’au. Still used by practitioners of Chinese medicine, it was one of the first medical texts to make reference to the therapeutic powers of the cannabis plant. Many priests and people being treated by Chinese doctors at the time would have been given a form of Cannabis for their maladies.

As the Romans began their devastating military campaigns around North Africa, Europe, and Asia Minor, they discovered hemp in many of the regions they conquered. A Greek physician known as Pedacius Dioscorides accompanied the Romans on many of their campaigns. He gathered many of the plants he discovered in foreign lands and studied them as for their potential curative properties. He compiled his findings into a book, which became known as the MATERIA MEDICA. It covered over 600 different plants and their various effects and included cannabis as one of the plants that held medical potential. Hemp and cannabis continued to spread throughout much of the European, Arabic, and Chinese worlds for the next thousand years. In the 12th century, it had spread throughout Egypt and much of Africa. In the 1500s, Growing hemp was actually required by all farmers in England. Not growing hemp could result in a substantial fine. 

Reefer Madness


The propaganda surrounding cannabis only began to surface in the United States and the Western World throughout the early 1900s, specially following the mexican revolution of 1910, when immigrants brought with them the practice of smoking cannabis recreationally. Racial prejudices of the era demonized the plant by association, and subsequently, massive unemployment during the Great Depression increased public resentment and fear of Mexican immigrants, and thus escalated public and governmental concern about the potential “problem” of marijuana. By 1931, 29 states had outlawed marijuana.

However, the real national, and subsequent international, the backlash against the plant is largely due to the work of Harry J. Anslinger, founder of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, and director from 1930 to 1962; effectively America’s first Drug Czar. From 1917 to 1928, Anslinger had worked on with various government agencies to help tackle international drug trafficking, focusing mostly on things like opium. When he returned to the states from international work, he took a position with the Treasury Department’s Bureau of Prohibition. Following the end of prohibition, he founded the Bureau of Narcotics and began a sweeping anti-cannabis campaign. Anslinger was a staunch critic of the plant, often ignoring medical opinions and outright fabricating negative accounts of cannabis use and its effects. He wanted legislation to get passed to ban the plant and make it illegal for all uses, despite noting in his comments that the resin of male plants had no intoxicating effects.

He knew that by referring to it as “marijuana” rather than cannabis, he could create a narrative that the plant was something foreign that was “invading” the United States, rather than accurately portraying it as something that had been used within the country for hundreds of years.

Utilizing early films and propaganda pieces like the infamous Reefer Madness (1936), despite a general rarity of actual use for smoking, the public’s opinion of cannabis began to change. Anslinger’s smear campaign was furthered by William Randolph Hearst, a newspaper owner who also had a significant stake in the timber industry. Hemp was a potential threat to Hearst’s timber business for paper production. He encouraged advertising and articles in his newspapers citing the dangers of cannabis. Some of these articles were later used by Congress in their decision to ban hemp.

The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 banned both hemp and cannabis from being sold in the United States, cementing its illicit status into law.



CBD was discovered within the hemp plant in the 1940s. Dr. Roger Adams’ team at the University of Illinois were the first to discover the compound. However, they did not realize what exactly they had discovered. Another researcher, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, realized that scientists had discovered the isolated compounds that gave opium and the coca leaf their intoxicating properties and was confused as to why the same had not been done with cannabis.

He successfully isolated cannabidiol, mapped out its structure, and began studying its properties and effects in 1963.

The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 was a proposed law to remove hemp (defined as cannabis with less than 0.3% THC) from Schedule I Controlled substance and making it an ordinary agricultural commodity. Its provisions were incorporated in the 2018 State Farm Bill that became law on December 20, 2018. In late March 2018, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced he would introduce legislation legalizing hemp production in his state, Kentucky, and nationally. McConnell introduced the bill, S.2667, on the Senate floor on April 12, 2018, co-sponsored by Oregon senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley . McConnell announced that Representative James Comer of Kentucky would introduce a companion bill in the House of Representatives.The companion bill, H.R. 5485, was introduced on April 12, with Colorado Representative Jared Polis co-sponsoring.

In addition to removing low-THC cannabis from regulation under the Controlled Substance Act, the 2018 act would avail hemp farmers of water rights and federal agricultural grants, and make the national banking system (in a gray area for the cannabis industry) accessible to farmers and others involved; and allow for other benefits of production of a recognized crop such as marketing, agronomy research, and crop insurance.