By Lace / November 7, 2018
the hidden history of cannabis

The Hidden History of Cannabis and Hemp: What the History Books Left Out... 

Ever wondered what the history of cannabis is? Where does all these medical uses stem from? The true history of cannabis and hemp may surprise you because it's been largely left out of our history books. Now with cannabis and hemp making a come back it's important to understand where it came from and how it was being used before prohibition. Why was cannabis really struck from the books, what were they trying to hide or achieve by demonising this humble plant? In this post we explore this and uncover the truly remarkable hidden history if cannabis and hemp and how it could change our future and they world as we know it.


Cannabis Throughout the Ages

Since ancient times Cannabis has been held as a prized plant of medicinal, spiritual and commercial value among civilisations worldwide. So it comes as no surprise that Cannabis is one of humanities oldest cultivated crops, with the earliest mention of cannabis cultivation said to be 12,000 years ago, in China. Lets take a look at Cannabis throughout the ages and see who was making use of this fabulous plant:

Way Back in the Day: 

Chinese Emperor Shen-Nung recognised cannabis' medicinal proprieties for over 100 ailments including gout and malaria as far back as 2737BC!

India and Ayurveda: Hindu religious texts dated 2000-1000BC speak of cannabis as the "source of happiness" and "bringer of freedom" and in Ayurvedic  medicine it was used to treat anxiety, seizures, even rabies.

Egyptians and Greeks: Egyptian Pharaoh Ramesses II was buried with cannabis pollen and Egyptian medical texts noted how this scared plant could be used to inflammation. The Greeks used cannabis for toothaches and earaches. 

Romans and Arabs: The Romans used cannabis to relieve labour pains in birthing women and the Arabs for asthma and fever. 


Even Neapolean bought some of the good stuff  back to France from Egypt in 1798, it was used to treat tumours and coughs. It was also studied for it's hypnotic and analgesic properties at this time too.


In 1839, cannabis was introduced to Western medicine by Irish doctor William O’Shaughnessy. Dr. Irish O’Shaughnessy concluded there were no adverse medicinal effects from using the plant and cannabis was set to take Western medicine by storm.


By the 1900's one could buy "medical" cannabis over the counter (not the new, patented big pharma gig we're seeing in the UK now, mind you) and was used frequently to treat sickness and labour pain. 

Everyone was taken by the wonders of cannabis and it's diverse uses. So what was hemp being used for? And what's the difference between cannabis and hemp anyway?


  • Cannabis is one of the world oldest cultivated plants
  • Used widely across the earth as medicine
  • Cannabis was well known to our ancestors for treating 100s of ailments
  • 1839 and Irish Doctor William O’Shaughnessy introduced cannabis into Western medicine and proclaimed it safe.
  • Could be bought over the counter in the 1900's for medical use

Hemp is an Ancient Food Source

Firstly, Hemp and Cannabis are the same plant, hemp is just a different part of the plant (fibre and seeds). Side note; Cannabidiols is found in abundance in hemp and is where the newly popular (and rightly so) Cannabidiol (CBD) Oil is extracted.

Hemp seeds provided an abundant source of highly nutritious food to many cultures throughout the ages. Being the highest source of plant protein after soy (and soy isn't so great for us, especially as majority is GMO), hemp is easy on the digestive system and are packed with healthy fatty and amino acids. The flavour is rather earthy and nutty and can be used in a variety of dishes for a punch of additional goodness.

Studies have shown that hemp can help control blood sugar, reduce cholesterol, boost the immune system, promote weight loss and reduce inflammation. Hemp can be used in food as oil, flour, to make "mylk" of the non dairy variety and can even be used to make beer. Wow. It's no wonder folks have been consuming these magical seeds for millennia! 

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  • Hemp seeds are highly nutritious
  • Full of healthy fatty acids and amino acids
  • Easy on the digestive system 
  • Second most abundant source of plant protein
  • Can be used as oil, "mylk" and flour 

Hemp in Industry: Eco-Friendly and Versatile 


Aside from nutrition, hemp was traditionally used to make things like rope, canvas, linen and paper. In sixteenth century Britain, Henry the 8th encouraged hemp's cultivation using it to provide materials for the Navy.

In the Americas cannabis plants were used to make rope and clothing and later for it's psychoactive effects. So precious was this plant, that during the 1800's in the US folks could find themselves in prison for NOT growing hemp on their land! Oh, how things have changed! We are amidst the very backward 21st century. Back then, hemp was huge, so huge it was considered legal tender, you could pay taxes - in hemp!  

These day's hemp can be used to make biodegradable plastics and even bricks for building sustainable homes! It also makes healthier clothing that's gentle on the skin because hemp doesn't need to be drowned in chemicals to process or bleach it. It's naturally bright and beautiful. And while hemp is making a come back, it's still waaaaaay off being utilised to it's full potential. This is not helped by the fact hemp cultivation is still against government policy in many countries.


  • Industrial hemp had hundreds of uses including, clothes, fuel and paper
  • Henry the VIII encouraged hemp cultivation and used hemp in Naval materials
  • Hemp was considered legal tender in the US in the 1800's!
  • US dwellers in the 1800's could be imprisoned for NOT growing hemp on their land
  • Eco-friendly, sustainable homes, bricks and biodegradable plastics can be created with hemp

Hemp as Fuel: Cars Running on Hemp!


Did you know Henry Ford of the Ford Motor Car Company was using hemp to make fuel with which he ran his car engines (he also designed a car made from hemp!)? Oh, yes. Folks were not frantically drilling into the earth in search of crude oil from dead plankton compressed over millions of years, no.In the 1930's Mr Ford was operating a successful biomass conversion plant producing hemp fuel in Michigan.

Mr Diesel on the other hand, had already worked out in 1896 how to run his diesel engines on peanut oil and planned to run his engines on vegetable and seed oils. Yes, hemp, seeds and vegetables. To run cars. You read that correctly. Remember, by 1937 hemp was banned in the US - after much lobbying by the oil industry and it's advocates I might add.

Think about it, pump prices would be a fraction of the cost if we were using hemp and vegetable oils to run cars today. Hemp fuel would make the oil industry somewhat obsolete, profits would plummet! After all, hemp isn't "running out"and never would, quite the opposite actually, it would just keep growing. 

In fact, hemp  creates a very green answer to the pollution caused by petrol and diesel industries.  Yet we are continually taxed on our cars emissions and robbed blind for driving diesel cars because of the pollution they cause... but they still make em and sell em to us, I guess it is a rather fabulous money making scheme, isn't it?

Hemp was too big and with everyone growing it for medicine, a growing number of industrial uses and potentially making their own fuel, hemp and cannabis use was shut down. And a slander campaign against this incredibly useful plant began. Everything from then on and descended into "reefer madness" as the propaganda was spread through media the people were brainwashed. Slowly, the world was made to forget that cannabis was good and sacred.


  • Hemp was used for fuel in the 1800's
  • Ford successfully ran biomass fuel plant using hemp
  • Diesel cars were originally designed to run on peanut and vegetable oil
  • What on earth are we doing using crude oil for fuel??
  • Cannabis and hemp descend into reefer madness slander campaign 
  • Oil rigs take over and fuel cars

The "Reefer" Madness and Prohibition

The beginning of the end for cannabis and hemp as the world knew it was looming. In 1928 Cannabis was banned in the UK. With this incredible plant now being slated the first blow to the United States came in 1937 in the form of The Marihuana Tax Act. This new "rule" from the entity known as government the use and sale of cannabis. The everyday people were no longer permitted to grow and use cannabis. Now, folks could wind up incarcerated for growing a plant they would have been incarcerated for NOT growing only 100 odd years ago... 

Then political nonsense and financial greed resulted in cannabis being falsely painted as an evil "gateway drug" that destroyed the lives of everyone who used it. Cheek! Cannabis was given the street name marijuana and propaganda was circulated by the media essentially brainwashing the masses into believing cannabis was the stuff of the Devil, for want of a better description.

Later, government policies aka statues outlawed the growth and use of this precious plant just about every where in the world. Public health bodies even had the nerve to tout cannabis as having no medicinal value and people are still routinely thrown in cages (prison) to this day for smoking, using or growing a plant. MADNESS!


  • UK bans Cannabis in 1928
  • US bans Cannabis in 1937
  • Rest of the World pretty much follows suit
  • Cannabis renamed Marijuana and slated
  • Suddenly it has no medicinal value after 12,000 years as medicine 

Cannabis Could Change the World as we Know it


So, it appears cannabis has a rich and colourful history of medicinal use worldwide. Certainly not the evil gateway drug so many falsely believe cannabis to be. Medicinal applications of cannabis are well documented and its popularity to treating 100s of ailments is well founded. It seems the cannabis/hemp industry got too big and those wishing to own and massively profit from medicine, fuel, agriculture etc needed to see it shut down.

In the 1900s cannabis and hemp are banned by government and demonised in order to make way for new industry that creates customers for life, that made way for inflating prices on fuels that are "running out" and to justify destroying the earth through logging and deforestation for wood, paper, building resources etc that could EASILY be created through the use of eco-friendly, rapidly growing, super diverse cannabis and hemp. We could even produce such things quite easily ourselves because cannabis/hemp is so damn easy to grow, there's absolutely no need for some giant corporate entity, government or not, to control or distribute cannabis and hemp for us. They certainly do not have more rights to cannabis than you and I. 

Essentially, Cannabis/hemp completely halts the "fossil fuel" and oil industries, big pharma would never get a look in with their allopathic medicine industry - the "pill for every ill" business model and the cancer industry would be liquidated almost over night. Monsanto would not be killing hundreds of thousands of cotton farmers with their toxic pesticides and crippling debt of mass cotton cultivation. And that's just for starters! 

But the history books don't tell you any of this because they don't want you to know the truth. They want to keep us enslaved to their system and way of doing things and it's time we started to wise up and reject the BS. Knowledge is power, they know this and use it to their advantage. Don't you think it's time we did the same? 

Do you have family or cultural history to share on cannabis use in times gone by? What are your thoughts on using cannabis/hemp to it's full potential in medicine and industry?

Sharing is caring, educate your mates and share history with them!



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About the author


Wife, mother and natural health and wellness enthusiast. When I'm not dabbling in natural stuff, I like to eat brie with onion chutney and mull over a good "coincidence" theory. Cooking up a nutritious storm, books with real pages and being barefoot are a few of my favourite things.