Early years in America
(1700s – 1930s)
Up until the early 1800s, hemp was the most cultivated crop in the world and a staple in America. The sustainable crop, grown for food, oil, and fiber, played a major role in the building of a new nation. Our founding fathers, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, grew hemp for its versatility and durability. In fact, the Declaration of Independence is written on hemp paper. In 1916 the U.S. Government predicted that by the 1940s all paper would come from hemp and that no more trees need to be cut down.
The downturn of American Hemp
(1930s – early 1940s)
A company called DuPont owned millions of acres of forest, which they were selling to paper manufacturers for huge profits. Being threatened by the hemp crops potential of quality and sustainability, the DuPont company recognized an opportunity to make hemp a thing of the past. They funded propaganda projects to shed light on the “damage” marijuana was causing on America’s youth. With strong connections to the government, DuPont was able to lobby enough to convince the U.S. Congress to implement the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act on the harvesting and distribution of all Cannabis Sativa plant, which hemp would fall under. Farmers were no longer financially able to grow hemp.
“Hemp for Victory”
(1940s – 1970s)
Leading up to World War II, the United States military was sourcing hemp fiber from Japan to make rope for the U.S. Navy ships. After Japan cut off the supply, the U.S. was forced to turn to its own farmers for hemp production, which was recently made illegal. The federal government launched a pro-hemp campaign titled “Hemp for Victory,” in which they handed out over 400,000 pounds of seeds to qualifying farmers. Between 1942 and 1946, American farmers produced 42,000 tons of hemp fiber annually. After the war, the demand for domestic hemp fiber ended, and farmers’ contracts were canceled.
Hemp Laws Today
(1970s – present)
In 1970, the U.S. government passed the Controlled Substances Act, which regulated all cannabis, including industrial hemp. In 2004, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the DEA did not have the authority to regulate specific parts of hemp, such as hemp seed, fiber, and oil, under the Controlled Substances Act. Hemp could, therefore, still be imported and those parts of the plant used for products and distribution.
After nearly a century of prohibition, cannabis is starting to take root in America. With the passing of the 2014 Farm Bill, states were given the right to implement laws allowing approved organizations to grow cannabis hemp for research purposes.
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