The History of Hemp in the United States

Hemp has been a part of North American life since before colonization, and its cultivation continued during World War II. For generations, hemp was used for basic products such as clothing, shoes, ropes and paper. The oldest remains discovered to date are hemp cords used in ceramics and records showing that hemp seeds and oil were used as food in China. Thomas Jefferson said that hemp was a “staple crop” in North America and that it was preferred in a populated country because it uses more labor than tobacco.

However, in 1937, the passage of the Marijuana Tax Act made all forms of cannabis illegal in the United States. This is why hemp is classified as a Schedule 1 drug, and law enforcement does not differentiate between hemp and marijuana. As a result, hemp became as illegal as cocaine and heroin. Industrial hemp is defined as a non-pharmacological variety of Cannabis sativa with 0.3% delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or less.

Hemp seeds are used as dietary flour, hemp milk, cooking oil and beer, as well as for dietary supplements. Hemp was even used to make the first versions of the Betsy Ross flag during the American Revolution (1775—178). Frightened by the threat posed by industrial hemp, industry leaders DuPont and Hearst pushed against hemp to protect their businesses. The Department of Agriculture began to strongly promote hemp and began to publish several benefits it offered (i).

There has been some controversy over this bill, as some have argued that this policy aimed to reduce the size of the hemp industry to help emerging plastic and nylon industries gain market share. Although hemp doesn't have psychoactive effects like marijuana, agents of the Federal Office of Narcotics couldn't differentiate between hemp and marijuana, causing the hemp industry to collapse. This led to the suppression of the USDA film “Hemp for Victory” until hemp advocates rediscovered it. After all, in the five thousand-year history of hemp cultivation on Earth, the half-century ban does not seem very long.

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Lloyd Pintello
Lloyd Pintello

Incurable pizza nerd. Coffee lover. Wannabe web enthusiast. General music lover. Infuriatingly humble sushi evangelist.