By Stephanie Mercier
Our history shows the way. Hemp was one of the earliest crops grown commercially in this country, long before the United States actually became a sovereign nation. The first formal record of its production appeared in a tax revenue document in the colony of Virginia in 1632. Raw hemp and hemp products were a key export from the American colonies to Great Britain, used for ship rigging, clothing, maps, books, sails and tents. Contemporaneous records indicate that two of our first three Presidents, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, raised hemp on their Virginia plantations. This crop, along with wheat and corn, was commonly planted on farms as the United States expanded westward, although not in large acreage overall.