John Dvorak, hemp historian at

“During the Civil War, there was a battle in Lexington, Missouri. It was occurring around the Masonic College, right on the Missouri River. Soldiers found some hemp bales that were about to be shipped downstream. They used these hemp bales as a movable breastwork and pushed them up the hill to win the battle that became known as the Battle of the Hemp Bales.”

That’s just one of the interesting tales told by hemp historian John Dvorak on this week’s hemp podcast.

Dvorak has been researching the history of hemp for over thirty years and has archived his work at, where you can find a trove of historical documents and images from American and world history.

Dvorak uses his research to educate and advocate for sensible hemp and cannabis reform. He gives talks at universities around the country, sharing what he calls his “Cannabis Curriculum" with students, encouraging them to dig deeper into the history of the hemp plant.

“I've been all around all sorts of different colleges talking to the students, letting them know that no matter what class they're taking, they can apply it to cannabis, hemp, marijuana or the drug war,” he said.

Dvorak said his research contradicts the standard narrative of why hemp was prohibited in the 1930s, that it wasn't a diabolical conspiracy by industry tycoons who saw hemp as a threat to their fortunes.

“Hemp was not a threat to anybody in the 1930s. It was an afterthought. So that was one of the biggest surprises that I found doing my research is that it just wasn't a conspiracy,” he said.

Dvorak got his start researching hemp in the 1990s and credits a handful of hemp pioneers with laying the groundwork for the modern hemp industry, folks like Jack Herer, Don Wirtshafter, and Eric Steenstra.

John Dvorak's Hempology

Hemp Hemp Hooray! Video

Ellora Caves

The Battle of the Hemp Bales

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's Ropewalk

A Day in the Ropewalk at Mystic Seaport

News Nuggets

Evacuation orders lifted after hemp plant fire in Grass Valley

Cows That Ate Hemp Produced Milk With THC and CBD

Food sector is chance for Colorado hemp to rebound, U.S. group says

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