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Did George Washington Grow Weed?

Did George Washington Grow Weed?

Culture

Did George Washington Grow Weed?

While the first president of the United States might not have been a cannabis smoker, did George Washington grow weed? The answer is a bit more complicated than you might expect.

If you’ve been a weed consumer for even a short amount of time, you’ve probably heard your share of urban—or HERBan—legends. Some of the most popular of these myths have to do with the founding fathers of the United Staes of America. For instance? That President George Washington smoked weed. Or Thomas Jefferson. Or John Adams. Unfortunately, most of these rumors have proven to be false. Regardless, even if our nation’s first president never smoked it, did George Washington grow weed? Let’s find out.

What Was George Washington Growing?

Did George Washington Grow Weed?

So, what’s the answer? Yes, Washington did grow weed. But not for the uses that you might think.

“Throughout his lifetime, George Washington cultivated hemp at Mount Vernon for industrial uses,” writes the Mount Vernon website. The site is the official information center for all things having to do with Washington.

The site continues: “The fibers from hemp held excellent properties for the making of rope and sail canvas, which was a major need in the age of the sailing ship.”

Washington knew his crop as industrial hemp, a multi-purpose product fiber. Hemp can be used to make things ranging from paper to textiles to the base material for shipping rope.

In reality, Washington was much like his contemporaries. Take Thomas Jefferson, for instance, who also grew industrial hemp. Both Washington and Jefferson wrote about and tracked the agricultural growth of their hemp crops. Even John Adams penned about it publicly.

Here’s what Adams’ writing about hemp look like: “Seems to me if grate Men dont leeve off writing Pollyticks, breaking Heads, boxing Ears, ringing Noses and kicking Breeches, we shall by and by want a world of Hemp more for our own consumshon.”

For the purposes of translation: Adams wasn’t talking about the merits of recreational cannabis consumption. Rather, he was talking about hemp. And he described it as a material used for gallows rope by a hangman. Ergh, a bit ghastly, huh?

Final Hit: Did George Washington Grow Weed?

So, did George Washington grow weed? As we’ve already deduced, yes and no. It seems clear that Washington and his contemporaries were not fans of toking. But they certainly reaped the benefits of growing hemp as an industrial crop.

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J.E. Reich

J.E. Reich is a Brooklyn-based GRD staff writer and a former night/weekend editor at Jezebel. Their work has appeared in Slate, the Toast, the Forward, the Huffington Post, and elsewhere.

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