Chapter 4 - (2nd Edition)
Virginia -- Industrial Hemp


Historical Industrial Hemp use in Virginia:

1.1 - Industrial Hemp, from the Colonial times to the 1830’s:

The importance of Hemp, at least to the early economy and culture of Virginia cannot be underestimated.   A quick scan of the Internet shows the following:
Mount Jackson, Virginia “Benjamin Allen acquired land near Mount Jackson and there he built a mill which was in operation prior to 1746. .. . Today the Benjamin Allen Mill Creek has been shortened to Mill Creek.   In addition to . . . These streams fostered the construction of numerous waterwheel gristmills, a hemp mill, a carding mill, a sawmill and a cabinet shop powered by Smith and Mill Creeks. “ --

Allegheny County (Va.)... a concise history “From about 1790 to after 1825 the principal cash crop in this area was hemp. Hemp production was encouraged by the state with a bounty being paid from each unit delivered. Locally produced hemp was hauled by wagon to a rope factory in East Richmond.   As ship stores accumulated, prices for hemp declined and agriculture shifted to grains, hay, and livestock.   Early farmers of the area aimed to be as self-sufficient as possible.” --
However, Industrial Hemp growth within the State of Virginia has an even much longer history.   In fact, at one time Hemp was so important to the economy of the State, that it was even against the law NOT TO GROW IT.

Hemp history

Hemp history
Hemp history

Journals of the House of Burgesses of Virginia - Pages 8-10
Burgesses   Burgesses   Burgesses   Burgesses  

The actual quotation is as follows:
“For hempe alfo’ both Englifhe & Indian & for Englifhe Flax & Annifeeds, wee doe require & enjoine all houfeholders of this Colony, that have any of thofe feeds, to make tryal therof the next feafon.”
However, taking into account that (back then) the letter "s" looked more like the letter "f", etc. We therefore come up with the following (modern day spelling) versions:
"For hemp also both English & Indian & English Flax & Anniseeds, we do require and enjoin all householders of this Colony, that have any of those seeds, to make tryal thereof the next season." Or "For hemp also, both English & Indian & for English Flax & Aniseeds (anise), we do require & enjoin all householders of this Colony, that have any of the seeds, to make trial thereof the next season."
The reader should note that the above (from the House of Burgesses) IN EFFECT carried the weight of Law --- It was NOT a suggestion.   Thus in effect, America’s first Marihuana law, required farmers to grow it.   However, it should be pointed out that other States also passed similar laws. Examples:

Nov. 1736 - to- March 5, 1737 - South Carolina: [B]
Provided economic incentives for farmers to grow hemp.
“On Motion the following Gentlemen were appointed a Committee to consider the State of Hemp in this Province, and the Bounty that is given for encouraging the Production thereof, and what has been done in Consequence of such.”:
1718 -- House of Representatives of Massachusetts: [C]
Provided economic incentives for farmers to grow hemp.
“In several preceeding Sessions I have mentioned to You how extreamly Necessary it was for us to find out some means to adsance the sinking Credit of our Publick Bills; As also what measures may be proper to be taken for the Incouragement of the Products of this Province, and especially the raising of Hemp and other Naval Sotres:” . . . A Bill Intitule, An Act in addition to An act for Encouraging the Raising of Hemp within this Province. . . .
Thus we must not see the State of Virginia as being totalitarian.   At the time, forcing people to grow crops (i.g. hemp) was a natural part of government.

[NEXT SECTION - Did George Washington Grow Hemp? ]

“Journals of the House of Burgesses of Virginia 1619-1658/59” pg.10, Edited by H.R. McIlwaine
[B] - The Colonial Records of South Carolina - The Journal of the Commons House of Assembly - Nov 10, 1736-June 7, 1739, pg.164, Edited by J. H. Hasterby
[C] - Journals of the House of Representatives of Massachusetts 1718-1720, Published at the Charge of the Dowse Fund, The Massachusetts Historical Society 1921, pgs 3, 29


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