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Hemp Origins, Evolution & History

Wonderful World of Hemp header
Map showing origins It is nearly impossible to write about the origins of hemp without referencing its psychoactive cousin marijuana, because they originated as one, as Cannabis, and their histories are as intertwined as they are separable. Its origins and evolution are as complex and compelling of a subject as its multifaceted utilization and intricate composition. Initially, distinctions between hemp and marijuana were based on the route it took during its evolution, its adaptation and then later by its narcotic effect. Its history has been laced with the confusion of, is it one in the same or are they different and how? But it was not until the last couple of centuries that a scientific analysis of the percentage of one chemical component, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), became the one distinguishing (and demonizing) factor that separated and characterized the two.

There is still so much that scientists need to uncover to fully comprehend the ancient history of Cannabis, and there are conflicting theories, but most researchers agree that its origins were in Central & South Asia. To this day, the flowering herb grows wild across vast grassland regions of Eurasia that spans western China and Mongolia through Kazakhstan and south toward India and the Middle East. But this does not explain how this one plant evolved so distinctly into either industrial hemp or the psychoactive marijuana. A much greater force than man could have been responsible—the force of nature.

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The Wonderful World of Hemp

Hello Hemp headerThe Journey

Hola, hola Quepolandians and visitors! It has been years since I last wrote for Quepolandia. My articles will still be plant-based, but this time the focus will be specifically on Cannabis sativa L./Hemp and its countless components, uses and benefits, including the ever-so-popular CBD/Cannabidiol.

First, a little of my background to shed some light as to why I feel sufficiently enlightened to be writing on this topic, which I hope will serve to inform and educate you readers on this extraordinary plant. My degree is in Horticulture, and I have been working with plants for over 40 years. Cannabis has been an interest of mine for decades, and I studied and worked with it it in my earlier years. But it was not until I discovered a book entitled Hemp Bound (at the former Jamie Peligro bookstore in Quepos) in 2017 that I realized what Hemp was and its enormous potential to humankind. This book was published in 2014—before we had even heard of CBD. Soon following that enriching read, Smoke Signals—A Social History of Cannabis by Martin Lee was next in queue. By then I was chomping at the bit for more knowledge and ready to return to the states to further my education on this plant and its blossoming, legal industry.

This is a good place to make this distinction: Cannabis includes both Marijuana and Hemp. Hemp is then categorized as either Industrial Hemp—which is grown for its stalk and seed, or Medicinal Hemp—grown mainly for CBD/Cannabidiol extraction. Medicinal Hemp is basically Marijuana with the THC—the psychoactive compound—bred out of it or to levels not to exceed 0.3%, which is the legal limit in the U.S. More on this in future articles.

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