Hemp that was used for industrial purposes barely contained any THC, usually less than 0.3%. The strains of cannabis that produce the euphoric effects are much higher in THC content. Marijuana contains a number of other psychoactive substances, such as CBD. No-one can say for certain which, if any, of these chemicals could have medicinal benefits without scientific research.
Kentucky hemp farmer with his harvested hemp plants, 1942. Photo by Bobeocean CC BY-SA 4.0
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.
And while strains of hemp were grown for the purpose of smoking, there isn’t much evidence that George Washington intended to use hemp for anything other than the many useful products that could be cultivated from a harvest. There is no direct evidence that he ever engaged in smoking or consuming hemp for recreational or medicinal purposes.
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.
Oil from the seeds was used to create things like paints or varnishes. Overall, the plant was primarily looked at as a cash crop for all of its uses.
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.
First President of the United States George Washington, one of the Founding Fathers known to have grown hemp prior to prohibition.
On top of that, the British, still seeing hemp as a necessity for their own naval strength, offered lucrative bounty programs in the hopes of gaining exports from American hemp farmers.
The marijuana legalization debate goes on within America, with both sides working diligently to achieve their own goals. Prohibitionists try to point to
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.
Thomas Jefferson, who admittedly looks like a cannabis enthusiast. White House Historical Association
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.
“James Madison once remarked that had it not been for hemp, he would not have had the insights he had in the work of creating a new and democratic nation,” read one claim.
George Washington in 1772, just before the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War. Washington and Lee University
George Washington smoked it to soothe the pain of his false teeth, James Madison is said to have conceived the U.S. constitution in a haze of hemp smoke. James Monroe picked up the habit while in Paris and was reportedly puffing away on a hash pipe well into old age.
Part of the confusion stems from the fact that many early U.S. presidents were indeed massive hemp enthusiasts, and indicated as much in letters and editorials. But they grew the crop as a way to make rope and paper, not as a hallucinogen.
“Some of my finest hours have been spent on my back veranda, smoking hemp and observing as far as my eye can see,” reads a quote widely attributed to Thomas Jefferson.
Ever since, the alleged cannabis usage of early U.S. leaders has been an oft-repeated argument by pro-legalization activists.
The widespread belief that Washington, Jefferson and Adams all smoked hemp is actually just a very successful 1970s instance of fake news