The use of Cannabis as an industrial crop by humans is as old as the practice of agriculture itself, dating back almost 10,000 years. Originally it was cultivated for the fibres of the stalk in order to make fabrics for clothing or nets for hunting and fishing. The plant now has a diverse range of applications from construction and cosmetics to modern day uses such as 3D printing.
Although Cannabis was one of the earliest crops cultivated by humans for fibre purposes, it would not be until 8000 years later (around 2000 BCE) that the nutritional benefits of the seed were discovered as a viable food source. Consumption of Cannabis seeds has several references throughout ancient religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism, with tales of the Lord Shiva and Prince Siddhartha both proclaiming its benefits.
It would be around the same time period (2147-2041 BCE) that paper making technology was discovered in China. Due to its already dominant use for clothing fabric, some old hemp rags were used in combination with mulberry and other plants to create the first pulp to be dried and cut into a sheet of paper. The use of Cannabis for paper was so dominant that several significant paintings and even documents were created using paper made from Cannabis, such as the King James Bible and an early draft of the US Declaration of Independence.
Although prohibition has, over the past few decades, caused a downsize in human usage of industrial hemp, recent trends to increase sustainability within society have sparked a resurgence of industrial hemp all over the globe. The use of cannabis to create buildings and homes with a negative carbon footprint can also help to lower energy cost throughout the year with improved thermal performance compared to standard brick and concrete. Additionally, we can now manufacture plastics such as door panels, plant pots, tables and chairs or even an aeroplane body with plastic made out of cellulose from the plant.