By Alice Blunt

Like many states in the US, Pennsylvania has a long and fraught history with marijuana. Back in the 1700s, hemp was a booming industry for the commonwealth, before restrictions pushed the cultivation of pot nearly entirely out of the state.  Now, medical use of marijuana is legal in Pennsylvania and Grower’s Choice is pleased to provide the highest quality seeds to Pennsylvania residents looking for relief from their qualifying conditions.

Pennsylvania was Founded on Hemp

When the great William Penn founded the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1681, he actually fully intended for the state to grow hemp as a staple crop.  One of the first laws passed by the General Assembly in 1683 was to encourage every farmer to grow hemp and just a few years later, Penn observed great quantities of hemp growing in his province.  In fact, have you heard of the Hempfield Township in Lancaster County? Yes, the town was named for the “green” crop. Formed in 1729, the place was dubbed Hempfield Township for the “vast quantities of hemp raised there.”  These vast quantities needed equipment to process the crop and between 1720 and 1870 Lancaster County had over one hundred water-powered mills for processing hemp fiber, with hundreds of similar mills operating throughout the state.

Hemp Flourishes in Pennsylvania for 250 years

From 1681 until about 1840, hemp cultivation was rampant in Pennsylvania.  Part of this was due to the large ship-building industry in the state; each ship used about sixty to one hundred tons of hemp fiber for thick anchor cables, rope rigging, and canvas sails.  For ships that sailed hundreds of miles annually, these components had to be replaced every few years. This need helped establish a large and reliable demand for hemp from the areas that cultivated the plant in Pennsylvania.

hemp products early pennsylvania

Other Uses for Hemp: Hemp Oil and Hemp Fine Linen

A by-product of all the hemp material used by the ship-building industry was hemp seed.  There were tons of hemp seeds left over once the shipping materials had been created and much of this product was pressed in the many oil mills that existed throughout Pennsylvania.  In fact, flaxseed oil and hempseed oil were often manufactured in the same mills and used for the same purposes. Hempseed oil became a key ingredient in paints, varnishes, lacquers, printer inks, and lamp oil, with the remaining seedcake fed to livestock.  Much of the hempseed oil was processed in the same mills that also processed hemp fiber.

Usually, people usually think of hemp fiber as a coarse material good for battling the natural elements.  This makes sense, given hemp’s use in ship sails and rigging. It was also used to make grain bags, curtains, bedding, and even Conestoga wagon covers.

It, therefore, may be surprising to learn that during the late 1800s, hemp was also the most popular fiber for clothing created at home.  The Pennsylvania Dutch were reported to have grown some of the best hemp and also to have produced some of the finest hemp linen. Most historians assumed that all home-created linen was made from flax, but hemp historian Les Stark found that Pennsylvania hemp linen was lauded at the time as indistinguishable from flax linen.  This certainly proves the versatility of hemp!

Crackdown on Hemp and Marijuana

Fueled by the reefer madness of the time, in 1933 Pennsylvania Governor Gifford Pinchot signed a law banning marijuana from the state.  This was four years before weed was outlawed on a national scale, in 1937. However, many Pennsylvania farmers continued to grow hemp, partly because of tradition — many farms had grown the plant for years — and also because some farmers were not aware of the new law.  Unfortunately, at this time there was no way to distinguish between “industrial hemp” and marijuana and many farmers were arrested for continuing to grow their hemp crops.

Towards Legalization

In recent years, Pennsylvania has made strides towards the legalization of marijuana.  Though still illegal for recreational use, some cities in Pennsylvania have decriminalized possession of pot in small amounts.  In 2014, Philadelphia decriminalized cannabis. In 2016, Pittsburg and State College also decriminalized cannabis. Other Pennsylvania municipalities have since joined the list, including Allentown, Erie, Harrisburg, Lancaster, and York.  

In 2016, the Governor of Pennsylvania legalized marijuana for medical use within Pennsylvania.  He expressed hope that the legalization will “provide long overdue medical relief to patients and families who could benefit from this treatment.”

Though planting cannabis seeds is still outlawed in Pennsylvania, it is legal to order and purchase them for your collection.  The ease of ordering seeds online, coupled with their high quality, makes Grower’s Choice cannabis seeds an excellent pick for Pennsylvania residents who might seek relief from Crohn’s disease, epilepsy, glaucoma, and other qualifying medical conditions.  Check out these powerful pain management strains from Grower’s Choice:

  1. Cinderella 99
  2. CBD Moby Dick
  3. CBD Critical Mass

We encourage Pennsylvania residents to explore the entire range of cannabis seeds available from Grower’s Choice. Medical marijuana is a natural choice for alleviating symptoms and providing a higher quality of life.   

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