10 Historical Facts about Hemp, Part 2.

10 Historical Facts about Hemp You Need to Know (Part II)

by Power Biopharms

We highly recommend that you read Part I of our two-part series before reading the last five hemp history facts down below. (Read Part I here).

  • Hemp recipes go waaayyy back!

  • In Part I of our “10 Historical Facts about Hemp” series, we mentioned the first recorded cannabis recipe’s origins in 2737-BC China and ancient India’s cannabis-rich concoction bhang in honor of the Hindu god Shiva. 

    We also talked about author Cheri Sicard’s excerpt from her book, “A Brief History of Edibles,” which also includes a timeline of cannabis edibles throughout the years. In the timeline, it reads that Italian writer and gastronomist Bartolomeo Platina included a cannabis oil recipe in his cookbook, “De honesta voluptate et valetudine” (“Of Honest Voluptuousness and Health”), published around 1474. (We should probably add that Platina’s text would go down in history as one of the world’s first cookbooks! Just some food for thought – pun intended – for the cannabis skeptics and historians out there!)

    But Robert Seitsema of culinary website First We Feast goes into more detail about how bhang and other cannabis recipes were made as well as how they came to be. For instance, Seitsema states that bhang involves ingredients such as ground CBD buds and leaves, milk and spices. He also mentions renowned cook Alice B. Toklas, known for her “Haschich Fudge” (or “hash brownies”), a recipe that she included in her 1954 cookbook, “The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook.” This hash brownie recipe was controversial in that it was simply straight, raw cannabis, containing neither fudge nor hash.

    However, not only did Toklas’s recipe lead to the brownie edible we know and love today, but it would also become an integral part of the edibles industry, an industry expected to gain $8.24 billion in net worth by 2025.

  • Shakespeare was rumored to have used cannabis!

  • Yes, that William Shakespeare. The William Shakespeare whose books you were forced to read in high school. 

    Still, the idea that Shakespeare used cannabis may just be that: an idea. Even though a 2020 piece on the Cleveland School of Cannabis assumed that Shakespeare used cannabis because of supposed CBD residue on his Stratford-upon-Avon property, Smithsonian Magazine science and culture writer Helen Thompson claims that the answer isn’t that simple. In her 2015 Smithsonian piece, she confirms that researchers have found four clay pipes containing a cannabis-esque substance and that they were on Shakespeare’s property. But Thompson also adds that whether or not the substance is actual cannabis, let alone whether or not Shakespeare owned the pipes or used the substance, is up for debate among historians.

    So, yeah, it’s pretty disappointing that we might never know for sure about Shakespeare’s relationship with hemp, but it’s still a great discussion to have with your cannabis aficionado friends!

  • There were elite clubs dedicated to CBD use!

  • That’s right! If you love well-known classics such as Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables” and Alexander Dumas’s “The Count of Monte Cristo,” you have French elite cannabis clubs called Hashish Clubs to thank for that! Because Hugo and Dumas wrote their masterpieces in one of those very clubs!

    Known as “Club des Hashischins” in French, a 2019 piece in cannabis and creativity site Pilgrim Soul states that this club would house French literary greats who wanted a side of CBD to go along with their writing sessions. Arts and culture blog Cocosse even describes a cannabis-infused coffee called dawamesk that the club’s guests would drink, a concoction that would also contain ingredients such as orange juice, nutmeg and cinnamon.

  • CBD became a staple in Victorian England.

  • A 2010 editorial on the National Library of Medicine’s website states that Queen Victoria used CBD tinctures, the article claiming that she used them for either period or childbirth pain. Teacher and writer Sara Kate expresses her amazement in her 2020 Ranker piece, saying how impressive it is that the Queen Victoria, who set one of the strictest societal standards for women in British history, would use a plant often associated with laziness and recklessness!

    So, next time you come across that one guy who says hemp users are lazy, tell him to try saying so about the literal Queen of Victorian England. No response from him? Yep, that’s what we thought.

  • Cannabis and coffee have a years-long relationship!

  • This ties back into the rich history of cannabis recipes, but we still think it’s important to dig deeper into the plant’s relationship with our favorite caffeinated beverage! Besides, did you know that King Charles II tried to ban coffee houses during his reign? Well, neither did we! 

    CBD writer Zoe Hudson says so herself in her 2022 article about this “intertwined” cannabis-coffee relationship. According to Hudson, even though King Charles II’s ban only lasted for a few days – in contrast to the years-long legal war with CBD that still persists today – both cannabis and coffee rose to fame quickly. Hudson also indicates that both the plant and the beverage appealed to the masses because they inspired creativity, motivation and productivity. 

  •  John F. Kennedy may have smoked CBD during his presidency!

  • “DID YOU KNOW? JFK SMOKED CANNABIS IN THE WHITE HOUSE, WHILE PRESIDENT, BECAUSE HE SUFFERED FROM SEVERE BACK PAIN & ADDISON’S DISEASE,” read a social media post by Canadian comedian Tommy Chong, the post containing a meme-esque black-and-white photo of Kennedy smoking a joint. 

    Fact-checking sites Snopes and PolitiFact would both dispute the claim. The former indicates that the rumor about Kennedy and cannabis existed way before social media was invented, the rumor first circulating in a 1984 New York Times article. (The social media post is also currently flagged as misinformation on Instagram.)

    According to both Snopes and PolitiFact, the only reliable information available on Kennedy’s relationship with the leaf are accounts from two individuals: Mary Meyer and James Truitt. According to Truitt, a former Washington Post editor, Meyer – believed to have been Kennedy’s mistress – once claimed during a 1976 National Enquirer interview that she and Kennedy smoked cannabis together while his wife, Jackie, was away. Truitt also added that Kennedy smoked three cannabis joints on that day. 

    However, whether or not Meyer and Truitt’s accounts were true is still up for debate (after all, this is Kennedy’s Other Woman and a paid journalist we’re talking about here). And Kennedy’s medical records (now sitting at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library) don’t say anything about cannabis to treat his ailments.

    We guess no one will truly know except Kennedy himself, and dead presidents tell no tales. But wouldn’t the Kennedy-cannabis argument make for great Thanksgiving Day conversation? 


    Now that we know a little more about our highly misunderstood flower, what’s the takeaway here?

    For one thing, there are many different uses for hemp besides consumption. You can use it to make clothing, as a relaxing fragrance, and much more! And there surely must be some merit to CBD if some of the most influential historical figures used it for their daily routines, raving over its benefits and even going so far as to encourage others to plant it or use it!

    Of course, this doesn’t mean that this plant is the answer to all of our problems. What it does mean, however, is that we have to learn more about a topic before we form an opinion about it. There are a lot of myths about cannabis out there. Very persistent ones that scare us out of educating ourselves and others about CBD’s benefits and how to use it wisely. 

    The good news is that more research and news stories are popping up on the Internet that are separating the truth about hemp from the myths, and just like CBD products themselves, the increase in education about the plant is an ongoing trend that probably isn’t stopping anytime soon.

    (*DISCLAIMER: The information above is not a substitute for medical advice. If you are considering adding hemp to your daily routine, consult your medical professional.)

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