History of Hemp in Florida: How Hemp Came to Florida
Hemp can be found growing wild all over the state of Florida. However, it hasn’t always been this way. Long before the plant named “Cannabis” inhabited the Sunshine State, it could be found growing in remote regions of China where it was used as anesthesia by surgeons.
Since then, it has traveled a long path through history, making appearances in some of the most important places in American history and in the history of Florida.
This article tells the story of the history of hemp and how it came to the state of Florida along with current events that could have a profound affect the future of the plant in the state.
Early History of Hemp
Long before hemp was well known as a plant that thrives naturally in the Florida climate, the plant was produced for thousands of years in parts of China.
It became popular in Europe in the 1500’s as a raw material used in the production of food and textiles.
How it came to the United States in the first place is often up for debate. However some common theories center around two primary themes. The first theory suggests when Puritans sailed from England in 1645; they brought hemp with them to New England. The second theory assumes it migrated from the south, where it was grown for years in Chile.
Regardless of how it made its way to the United States, the natural growth of hemp has become commonplace in many areas across the country. Hemp has been slowly taking root in the state of Florida and can now be found flourishing in areas across the region.
History of Hemp in the United States
Hemp has a long-standing history in the United States and in Florida. Over the years it has been a critical component in everything from paper products to nutritious food products. In the past, hemp was typically used to make rope, canvas, paper and clothing.
In fact, it is often said that a draft of the Declaration of Independence was written on paper made from hemp (the original was written on parchment). Even Thomas Jefferson and George Washington are said to have grown hemp on their respective farms.
Most people don’t realize this, but in 1941 Henry Ford used hemp fiber to create an experimental car body. Although the experiment never made it to the assembly line, it is a testament to the diversity and usefulness of the hemp plant and its place in American culture.
History of Hemp in Florida
While a number of states now allow the industrial production of the hemp plant, it is not permitted in the state of Florida.
Under Florida law, as defined under Statute 893 of the criminal code, prohibits the growing, distribution, selling, or possession of “cannabis plants.” This emphasis on the term “cannabis plants” means that hemp is included in the law.
This is why many Floridians have pushed to get the law changed for a multitude of reasons. Perhaps, the most powerful of all the reasons is the prohibition of commercially growing hemp has restricted a potential revenue opportunity for the state of Florida.
One proposed change to the Florida law centers around adding definitions for the words “hemp” and “marijuana” to put a clear separation between the two varieties of Cannabis.
Every year, supporters of hemp celebrate the history of hemp in Florida and across the globe during Hemp History Week.
One installment of the event was held in Fort Myers Beach where local restaurants served hemp-flavored drinks and a hemp fashion show was held to showcase the many uses of the versatile plant.
Looking to the Future
From its first known beginnings in remote regions of China all the way to present day, the story of hemp and its history in the state of Florida is filled with fascinating accounts.
Hemp can be found present in the lives of some of the most famous and influential Americans in history. It has been cultivated on the land of past U.S. Presidents and Founding Fathers and in the factories of a pioneering entrepreneur in the automotive industry and is celebrated for its usefulness and uniqueness still today.
At the moment you’re reading this article, there are many legal and societal factors that are working to influence the future of hemp in Florida and beyond. It is these legal and political issues that will likely shape the history of hemp in Florida was we look back a few years from now.