At the time, hemp was invaluable to a naval force. The strength of the rope produced by hemp came in handy aboard ships and as such, it was one of the most important crops that could be grown in a country that had an active navy.
The marijuana legalization debate goes on within America, with both sides working diligently to achieve their own goals. Prohibitionists try to point to potential harmful effects that the plant can have on both the body and the population, while legalization supporters try to argue for its merits and health benefits.
Kentucky hemp farmer with his harvested hemp plants, 1942. Photo by Bobeocean CC BY-SA 4.0
One such country was Britain, which saw the necessity to have significant crops of the planet. Growing hemp would be necessity for colonial Virginia to support the British. This is where the growth of hemp was introduced into colonial America.
According to the Washington Post it is true that George Washington grew hemp in abundance, especially on one plot of land he called Muddy Hole. The Huffington Post goes on to say that in his farm journal of August 7, 1765, Washington notes that he “began to separate the male from the female hemp… rather too late.” Thomas Jefferson wrote that hemp “is abundantly productive and will grow for ever on the same spot.” Hemp was a popular plant at that time and had tremendous value for many industrial applications. At times Virginia farmers even had to pay to grow it. Hemp strains were utilized for making rope, creating canvas and even being spun into clothing.
Small Marijuana Leaf.
Marijuana is bred to produce increasingly higher amounts of the psychoactive substance THC.
First President of the United States George Washington, one of the Founding Fathers known to have grown hemp prior to prohibition.
Growing hemp for the rope, linen cloth, and sacks would be useful on his property for a variety of tasks. Indeed, he was a proponent of growing hemp so that he would be able to repair the fishing nets that they used on fishing trips to the Potomac.
The marijuana legalization debate goes on within America, with both sides working diligently to achieve their own goals. Prohibitionists try to point to
John Adams, who actually wanted to kill people with hemp, rather than get them high. Naval Historical Centre
Second president John Adams even left behind this particularly cryptic quote from 1763: “Seems to me if grate Men dont leeve off writing Pollyticks, breaking Heads, boxing Ears, ringing Noses and kicking Breeches, we shall by and by want a world of Hemp more for our own consumshon.”
Even 13th president Franklin Pierce allegedly puffed a few tokes while serving in the Mexican-American War, proclaiming it as “about the only good thing” to come out of the conflict.
Unfortunately, it’s all very, very untrue. Early American presidents may have been enthusiastic growers of low-THC hemp, but there is no evidence whatsoever that any of them ever consumed it.
In fact, the whole thing is largely thanks to a wildly successful 1970s hoax.
Thomas Jefferson, who admittedly looks like a cannabis enthusiast. White House Historical Association
As for the quote about Thomas Jefferson smoking pot on his back veranda, that dates back only about 10 years. The non-profit that runs Monticello, Jefferson’s Virginia home, notes that the quote does not appear in any of Jefferson’s official writings, and only started appearing online in 2008.
The National Constitution Centre now has a dedicated webpage to refute the notion that the likes of Washington and Madison were lighting up 18th century joints.
The Seed, an underground Chicago newspaper, ran a satirical story claiming that seven early U.S. presidents had smoked hemp. Citing a non-existent “Dr. Burke” from the equally non-existent American Historical Reference Society, the story spun convincing descriptions for each president’s encounter with the drug.
The widespread belief that Washington, Jefferson and Adams all smoked hemp is actually just a very successful 1970s instance of fake news