1776 – The men who shaped the creation of our nation chose to construct the first drafts of the Declaration of Independence on Dutch Hemp paper. The choice for American paper was hemp, and that choice came from the people who defined what it meant to be American. Hemp was plentiful in America during those days, and it became the choice of mills for paper production.
Hemp enjoyed some prolonged popularity especially in the Southern states where there was free labor. Hemp replaced cotton as the major cash crop until the surrender by the South to the Union. Cotton production soon replaced hemp because cotton could be sold for a high value overseas. Hemp shortages forced paper producers to consider alternative sources. Eventually they turned to a massive free supply of material, the forests of the United States. Demand for marine rope made from hemp also declined as steam powered ships were replacing the ships that relied on sails to harness the wind. By 1909, Kentucky was the only Southern state still producing hemp, and cultivation had dwindled down to a statewide 6,800 acres.
Hemp is still used to make papers of a special nature. Cigarette paper and filter paper such as coffee filters are made from hemp. Teabags have also been made from hemp. Other papers include greaseproof paper, specialty art papers and security papers can all be made from hemp. Around 80% of all hemp paper is cigarette paper.
Hemp production is not done on a massive scale because it costs more to produce hemp paper. Hemp paper is produced mostly on older equipment, and faces other challenges such as hemp only being harvested once per year. Storing hemp for long periods of time can lead to increased production costs. Around 80% of all hemp paper is cigarette paper.