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The Historical past of Hemp in America

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Hemp’s Short Resurgence During WWII

With the United States entering World War II in 1941, the nation’s hemp cultivation efforts were resurrected. Japan cut off supplies of hemp from the Philippines, forcing the U.S. to turn to its own farmers for hemp production.

The federal government launched a pro-hemp campaign, which included the distribution of 400,000 pounds of seeds and the release of the film “Hemp for Victory,” to encourage American farmers to grow as much hemp as possible for the war effort. A private company called War Hemp Industries was formed to subsidize hemp cultivation and new processing plants used the crop’s strong industrial fibers to produce products like rope, cloth, and cordage.

Between 1942 and 1946, American farmers from Wisconsin to Kentucky produced 42,000 tons of hemp fiber annually.

Unfortunately, hemp’s comeback ended nearly as quick as it started. Following the war, the demand for domestic hemp fiber was no more and many Midwestern farmers immediately faced canceled hemp contracts.

Laws on Hemp Today

Hemp only recently again became legal to grow and use in the United States under federal law.

In 1970, the U.S. government passed the Controlled Substances Act, a statute that regulates all cannabis, including industrial hemp. However, the definition of marijuana was lifted from the existing 1937 statute and adopted without any change. This definition excluded certain parts of hemp — sterilized hemp seed, hemp fiber, and hemp seed oil — from regulation.

In 2004, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Drug Enforcement Administration did not have the authority to regulate these specific parts of hemp under the Controlled Substances Act. Hemp could therefore still be imported and those parts of the plant used for products.

After nearly a century of prohibition on the cultivation of hemp in America, the versatile plant is starting to again take root. With the passage of the 2014 Farm Bill, which featured Section 7606, states became allowed to implement laws allowing state departments of agriculture and universities to grow hemp for research or pilot programs.

So when did hemp become legal in the U.S.? Only a couple of years ago. The passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, signed into law in December of 2018, contained provisions that removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act altogether, radically overhauling America’s relation to hemp and hemp products. The law made it legal for U.S. farmers to grow, process, and sell hemp commercially. It also legalized hemp nationwide for any use, including the extraction of CBD oil.

To date, over 40 states have passed legislation related to hemp cultivation and the nation’s hemp market was valued at more than $688 million in 2016.

Hemp food products are considered a top 10 food trend for 2019, and the hemp-derived CBD market is on track to reach $22 billion by 2022.

More About Hemp

Now that you have an understanding of the history of hemp in America, you can learn more about the difference between hemp and marijuana and keep up with the growing legal cannabis industry through our news feed.

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Beth Edmonds