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1564: King Phillip II orders hemp to be grown throughout the Spanish Empire

In 1492 Columbus 'discovered' America and claimed it for his patrons King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. With the discovery of the New World, the age of sail comes into full force for the Spanish Empire.  Hemp is one of the most heavily used materials in the  building of seafaring vessels, second only to wood. The young super power needed huge supplies of hemp to build the navy and merchant ships that secured the newly found wealth and power.

 

With the conquistadors of Hernando Cortes's army  in 1520 the first cannabis was brought to Mexico. The hot climate of the Spanish Empire in the Americas was perfect for growing the cannabis plant.[1]

Almost immediately upon arrival hemp was sown in many places, in the hope that they could produce their own hemp, and not depend on foreign merchants for this important strategic resource [2]. But in 1550 the governor of New Spain declared that growth of cannabis should be limited because native people used the leaves as intoxicants.

Fourteen years later the Spanish Empire had grown even bigger and  was still depending upon hemp ropes and sails to outfit their big sailing ships. King Phillip II orders hemp to be grown throughout the Spanish Empire.[3]

 

1.W. Scott Ingram. (2008) Marijuana. Infobase Publishing.
2. Erich Forster. (1996) Journal of the International Hemp Association Volume 3 number 2 December.
3 Kayla Morgan. (2010) Legalizing Marijuana,  Abdo.
Research and text © Hempshopper Amsterdam.