For centuries, hemp was a major crop in North America, used to make ropes and textiles. But in 1937, the Marijuana Tax Act was passed, making it illegal to cultivate hemp in the United States. This law was the beginning of hemp's ban in the US, as it made it difficult for farmers to produce hemp. Hearst and William DuPont had a vested interest in using wood to produce paper, and were threatened by hemp.
This could be one of the reasons why hemp was banned. It is also speculated that hemp was banned because it looks similar to marijuana, but their chemical differences make it clear that they are not the same. Hemp has virtually no trace of THC, while marijuana has about 10 percent; some marijuana strains can have up to 27 percent THC. In recent years, hemp policy in the US has been drastically transformed with new legislation.
Two weeks ago, the North Carolina House of Representatives and Senate approved a bill that would legalize industrial hemp production in the state. The Drug Enforcement Administration has granted several dozen permits to grow hemp in nine states, including Kentucky. The former “Cheers” star and current Senate Majority Leader and the Kentucky State Senator have been instrumental in legalizing hemp in the US. Hemp is now legal with serious restrictions, and research on hemp is still important.
Hemp producers are treated like other farmers, and a state's plan to license and regulate hemp can only begin once the USDA Secretary approves that state's plan. Today, 30 countries around the world allow farmers to grow industrial hemp, with China being the largest producer and exporter. Hemp is also used for practical uses, from clothing to concrete, where marijuana has no practical uses.