Cannabis Comes to the New World

Image retrieved from Cannabis Career Institute on June 4th, 2013.

The first settlers who founded the colony at Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607, however, did not make the long journey across the Atlantic to become hemp farmers. Like most Englishmen, they came to America in the belief that the country abounded in gold and silver...

In 1611, formal orders to raise hemp were finally received in the colony. Speaking to a motley gathering of His Majesty''s loyal subjects, the new governor, Sir Thomas Dale, informed the colonist that the king expected them to grow hemp.
The colonists were indifferent to the royal proclamation. They cared as little about raising hemp as they did any other crop. Yet by 1616, colonist John Rolfe could boast that the inhabitants of Jamestown had raised hemp "none better in England or Holland." However, Rolfe also begun to experiment with growing tobacco, and it was not long before the demand for American tobacco was greater than anyone could have anticipated. Faced with a choice between raising tobacco and becoming rich or complying with the Crown's wishes that they grow hemp, the colonists planted tobacco in every nook and cranny of the Jamestown settlement.
To combat this obstinance, in 1619 the Virginia Company directed every colonist in Jamestown to "set 100 [hemp] plants and the governor to set 5,000" and it allotted one hundred pounds to a Gabriel Wisher to hire skilled hemp dressers from Sweden and Poland at ten pounds, ten shillings per man, if they would emigrate to the new colony.
Parliament was also prepared to offer sizable inducements. In 1662, Governor William Berkely was empowered to offer each colonist two pounds of tobacco for every pound of hemp delivered to market. Similar bounties for hemp production were also offered in Maryland in 1671, 1682, 1688 and 1698.

- p. 77, from the chapter Cannabis Comes to the New World in The First Twelve Thousand Years: Marijuana by Ernest L. Abell (1980)

The First Twelve Thousand Years: Marihuana
ShareThis