Hemp use dates back to the Stone Age, with hemp fiber imprints found in pottery shards in China and Taiwan[45] over 7,000 years old. They were also later used to make clothes, shoes, ropes, and an early form of paper.[45] Contrary to the traditional view that Cai Lun invented paper in around 105 AD, specimens of hemp paper were found in the Great Wall of China dating back 200 years earlier.[citation needed]

The classical Greek historian Herodotus (ca. 480 BC) reported that the inhabitants of Scythia would often inhale the vapours of hemp smoke, both as ritual and for their own pleasurable recreation (Hist. 4:73-75).

In late medieval Germany and Italy, hemp was employed in cooked dishes, as filling in pies and tortes, or boiled in a soup.[46]

Hemp in later Europe was mainly cultivated for its fibers, and was used for ropes on many ships, including those of Christopher Columbus. The use of hemp as a cloth was centered largely in the countryside, with higher quality textiles being available in the towns.

The Spaniards brought hemp to the Western Hemisphere and cultivated it in Chile starting about 1545.[47] However, in May 1607, "hemp" was among the crops Gabriel Archer observed being cultivated by the natives at the main Powhatan village, where Richmond, Virginia is now situated;[48] and in 1613, Samuell Argall reported wild hemp "better than that in England" growing along the shores of the upper Potomac. As early as 1619, the first Virginia House of Burgesses passed an Act requiring all planters in Virginia to sow "both English and Indian" hemp on their plantations.[49] The Puritans are first known to have cultivated hemp in New England in 1645.[47]

U.S. 'Marijuana' production permit. In the USA, hemp cultivation is legally prohibited, but during World War IIManila hemp previously obtained from Japanese-controlled areas. The US government produced a film explaining the uses of hemp called Hemp for Victory. farmers were encouraged to grow hemp for cordage, to replace

George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both cultivated hemp on their farms. Benjamin Franklin started the first American paper mill, which made paper exclusively from hemp, and the Declaration of Independence was drafted on paper made from hemp fibers.[50]

Hemp was used extensively by the United States during WWII. Uniforms, canvas, and rope were among the main textiles created from the hemp plant at this time. Much of the hemp used was cultivated in Kentucky and the Midwest.

Historically, hemp production had made up a significant portion of antebellum Kentucky's economy. Before the American Civil War, many slaves worked on plantations producing hemp.[51]

During WWII, the U.S. made a short 1942 film, Hemp for Victory, promoting hemp as a necessary crop to win the war.

By the early twentieth century, the advent of the steam engine and the diesel engine ended the reign of the sailing ship. The production of iron and steel for cable and ships' hulls further eliminated natural fibers in marine use. Hemp had long since fallen out of favor in the sailing industry in preference to Manila hemp.