Take as much hemp seed as you can and plant it everywhere, he ordered his men…
President of the United States from 30 April 1789 to 4 March 1797, George Washington is known to have been the first on many occasions. “First in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen,” says the eulogy for George Washington written by Henry Lee. But did you know that he was also among the first to grow cannabis in America?
The story goes that George Washington’s ancient dentures, made of hippopotamus ivory with gold springs and brass screws, were causing him so much pain that he turned to cannabis to relieve it, as reported in The Daily Beast.
The strongest evidence suggesting that the first American president cultivated cannabis comes from passages in his diary, written in 1794. “Take as much hemp seeds as you can and sow them everywhere,” he wrote, among other things. “I began to separate male and female plants, unfortunately too late,” he also added.
Nevertheless, there is a more plausible answer: he was talking about real hemp. The Washington family grew non-psychoactive cannabis in Mount Vernon. Thomas Jefferson and other colonial Americans also did the same. Hemp was a versatile crop used to make sails, clothing, rope, and many other things. George Washington recognized in his diary “an agricultural error because hemp that is sown (after the male pollen has fertilized the female flower) produces larger and less valuable fibers.
So George Washington did grow cannabis, but there is no real evidence that he did so to smoke it. And doubt will surely forever hang over the president’s practice.