Our Founding Fathers’ History With Hemp

Our Founding Fathers’ History With Hemp
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Yes, the Founding Fathers of this American republic really did embrace hemp as an early symbol of independence. There’s no doubt that the Virginia aristocrats among them, at least, cultivated the plant. A certain mythology about this has emerged among the contemporary “hempsters”—zealous advocates of industrial hemp, who also tend to enjoy the mood-altering effects of cannabis. However, not all the legends that have grown up around these wigged and vaunted progenitors of liberty (for some) actually stand up to scrutiny. Let’s check the historical record and parse the facts. George Washington and Hemp: Myth and Reality Mount Vernon, George Washington’s historic estate in Virginia’s Fairfax County, is maintained today by a private foundation as a tourist destination as well as a working farm. And in 2018, it began to produce hemp again—most likely for the first time in some two centuries. The estate partnered with the University of Virginia to sow and harvest a hemp crop that year. “To bring this crop back it just really helps complete our agricultural story,” Mount Vernon horticulture director Dean Norton told National Public Radio. As NPR reported, the impetus to bring hemp back to Mount Vernon came from a campaign launched by a Charlottesville farmer and self-declared “hemp patriot,” Brian Walden. Walden said the return of hemp to the honored plantation could get “the message across that this is an innocuous plant that has real benefits and our Founding Fathers knew that and they planted it.”  A page on the official Mount Vernon website coyly states: “Yes, George Washington did grow hemp… but not the kind you’re thinking of.”  “Throughout his lifetime, George Washington cultivated hemp at Mount Vernon for industrial uses,” the page states. “The fibers from hemp held excellent properties for making rope and sail canvas. In addition, hemp fibers could be spun…

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