George Washington and His Use of Hemp

George Washington was a revolutionary leader and founding father of the United States who experimented with hemp as an agricultural crop. Learn more about his use of hemp and why it was so important in colonial America.

George Washington and His Use of Hemp

George Washington was a revolutionary leader, a founding father of the United States, and a successful businessman. He was constantly evaluating, reviewing, and experimenting with agricultural techniques, some of which were revolutionary for the time. One of the crops he experimented with was hemp. Washington initially considered growing hemp as a cash crop, but ultimately decided against it.

Instead, he grew hemp to meet the needs of his own plantation at Mount Vernon. Hemp was used for rope, thread for sewing sacks, tarps, and for repairing seine nets used in fisheries. Hemp rope was strong but would break when it weakened due to prolonged exposure to moisture. During his second term as president, Washington exchanged extensive correspondence from Philadelphia with William Pearce, his asset supervisor.

The letters included detailed instructions for planting and growing crops. Hemp plants do not need to be separated by gender in order to be cultivated. Today, the North American Industrial Hemp Council promotes 25,000 products made from this useful plant, including ropes, clothing, food, paper, textiles, plastics, insulation, and biofuels. Hemp was seen as so important in colonial America that even John Adams mentioned its importance before the Declaration of Independence was signed.

Marijuana hemp has more THC (which causes you to get high) and less CBD (which counteracts any euphoric effects). It is more likely that Washington added the flowering tops of female cannabis plants to distilled alcohol to make an elixir or tincture. This would have been an attractive option for him as a businessman. Hemp canary seed is also popular and is often eaten by birds who then fly into sliding glass doors.

Nobody has any evidence of hemp grown in Washington that affirms THC levels; any claims to the contrary are false inventions.