Where was the first documented, verifiable planting of cannabis in North America?
Just like ice hockey, the odometer, and instant mashed potatoes, it was a first that originated in Canada. Louis Hebert, a botanist, planted the first cannabis crop in 1606. Hebert was an apothecary as well, which explained his connection to explorer Samuel de Champlain, founder of Quebec. Hebert arrived in Port Royal (now Nova Scotia) after emigrating from France with his wife and children. While cannabis seeds and flowers had been used across Asia and Europe for food and medicine, the primary objective for the Canadian cannabis crops was for textile exports, like ropes and sails for ships.
For hundreds of years, cannabis and the fibers it produced were a global commodity. Cannabis crops were labor-intensive, especially in comparison to food crops, so it wasn’t always a popular crop to grow despite its valuable yield. In the 1600s, the Canadian government strongly encouraged farmers to plant cannabis crops, even confiscating the threads in Canadian textile shops (used for clothing and household items) and holding them for ransom in exchange for cannabis fibers.
Cannabis and the textiles made from it were globally valuable. Incentives, bonuses, threats, they were all tactics used across many countries to produce cannabis. In the “New World” in North America in the 1600s and beyond, the expectation was clear. If you were able to grow cannabis, then you should. Heck, in 1802, Canada even created the “Board for the Encouragement of the Cultivation of Hemp,” appointing several influential farmers to it.
The plant essentially remains the same. So do the uses for it too. And those uses are wide and considerable (especially when it comes to sustainability and versatility). But, cannabis has been labeled as a dangerous substance and treated as such for the last century or so. The motivation for spinning a false narrative has always been complex.
And outright wrong. Wrong on so many levels.
Be assured, this isn’t about the plant.
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