The Times, They Are A-Changing (Hemp & CBD Advocacy, Pt. II--The Pioneers)


When we think of pioneers, we think of those brave, stalwart folk who came before us, forging on through the unknown to a new destination or discovery. Be it in science, space, exploration, literature, or making giant rubber-band balls, someone paved the way. Someone did it first, and it's unsurprising that we often hold them up as models, being that they embody and personify the spirit and character that we as a society think we all should aspire to.

We also keep this memory of “the pioneer spirit” alive by teaching the history of that person or group, their story of discovery/success, and remind those that these characteristics of perseverance, strength, ingenuity, and self-confidence are what made the discovery of that thing/place/result we value so highly possible. It's important and valuable to have a history to look back upon, lest we forget the challenges of exploration and innovation, and fall into an intellectual laziness that takes for granted the hard work of discovery.

When it comes to cannabis-hemp, we too stand on the shoulders of giants. With hemp having such a long history and association with humanity, it's both easy and hard to see the pioneering spirit on the historical timeline. Hemp use is measured by millennia, so there's quite a way to go to touch the true pioneers somewhere on the steppes of central Asia, discovering by either accident or necessity that the plant that they feed their horses also makes seed they can eat, whose stalk can be broken apart into strands that can make incredibly strong cordage, or broken down even more finely to be woven into cloth, shoes, bedding, etc, and can, of course, also be used as an antiseptic, antibiotic, fungicide, poultice, anesthetic, antiemetic, etc, as well as help them feel at one with their environment, and their concept of the divine.

These people, of course, are cannabis-hemp's true pioneers and advocates. What better an advocacy than teaching someone by example and demonstration what value something has in life? Jump forward a few millennia (and change continents), and we have cannabis-hemp in the Americas. The Spanish have brought it to Mexico, and the British to North America. In the newly formed British colonies, the crown actually punished farmers who did not produce hemp.

A bit later, after that squabble between ol' King George and his cranky colonists was settled, the new United States of America—and its leaders like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Ben Franklin, among others—saw in hemp the versatile raw material that they could depend on to help build a new nation from scratch, and encouraged all people with arable land to grow it to support both themselves as well as their community and their young nation. So valuable was the hemp crop that citizens were allowed to pay debts, and even pay their taxes with in. These early Americans were true pioneers in hemp as an agricultural crop, commodity, and currency.

Now, to the pioneers that we all think of. The settlement of the American West—especially that of the Great Western Migration that occurred after the end of the American Civil War (1861-1865)—was powered in no small part by hemp. The classic covered wagon was covered in canvas (there's that word again) often woven of hemp, the oxen who could eat any fodder they cam across were often fed a handful of hemp seed a day to keep them healthy, the ropes used to lash loads were made of hemp, and often, the clothes on people's backs were hemp-made. Hemp seed was sown as one of a settler's first crops to provide food, fuel, and raw materials to help them carve out a life in this vast new land they now found themselves in.

America owes a great debt of thanks to its pioneers, and those pioneers owe a great debt of thanks to hemp. But one American pioneer stands above them all. It's he who we all owe a great debt of gratitude, and it's likely not who you think (we're looking at you, Davy Crockett).

Until we explore hemp history again next week, stay cool...

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