Nature Wins! A brief history of hemp

The history of hemp is inextricably entwined with that of the human race. From the dawn of agriculture to the latest in nanotechnology for batteries, hemp has found uses through every stage of civilization. HempFlax is proud to continue this tradition, and contribute to the ongoing story.

It is not possible to detail every single application that humans have found for hemp on one page, since there are thousands of uses for this versatile plant! However, it is possible to create a brief history of hemp, which you will find below.

  • Hemp is one of the oldest crops, cultivated for over 8000 years
  • Grown in China for seeds (food, oil) and fibres (textiles) since 4,500 BCE
  • Hemp has been used in Europe, especially for rope, cloth, clothing and oil, since 600 CE
  • Hemp was first industrially grown in the Netherlands in the 17th century, on numerous small farms
  • After wood, hemp was the most important component in shipbuilding during the Golden Age
  • Following the Industrial Revolution, hemp had to compete with cotton, wood pulp, plastics and other mass-produced materials
  • Hemp processing rapidly became more sophisticated. In 1861 the first hemp decorticator was invented; in 1917 and 1935, even better models appeared
  • Hemp fell under the Opiumwet (Opium Law) in the Netherlands in 1928 and the Marihuana Tax Act in the US in 1937. Apart from a brief revival in the US during World War II, hemp cultivation became difficult, if not impossible, in most parts of the world
  • In 1989 industrial hemp for seed and fibre production became legal in Europe once again
  • In 1993 HempFlax was established by Ben Dronkers with the aim of reviving the Dutch hemp industry
  • HempFlax harvested its first crop of industrial hemp in 1994
  • In 2014 HempFlax harvested 1200 hectares, yielding 10,320 tons of raw material, and continues to be the forerunner of the industrial hemp revolution
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