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VOL. 42 | NO. 46 | Friday, November 16, 2018

Hemp through the years

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Hemp is among the oldest industries on the planet, going back more than 10,000 years to the beginnings of pottery. Presidents Washington and Jefferson grew hemp. Americans were legally bound to grow hemp during the Colonial Era and Early Republic. Hemp popularity has soared in recent years following its revitalization after the 2014 Farm Bill approving its cultivation.

In 1937, Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act which effectively began the era of hemp prohibition. The tax and licensing regulations of the act made hemp cultivation difficult for American farmers. The chief promoter of the Tax Act, Harry Anslinger, began promoting anti-marijuana legislation around the world.

Then came World War II. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor shut off foreign supplies of “manila hemp” fiber from the Philippines. The USDA produced a film called “Hemp for Victory” to encourage U.S. farmers to grow hemp for the war effort. The U.S. government formed the War Hemp Industries Department and subsidized hemp cultivation. During the war, U.S. farmers grew about a million acres of hemp across the Midwest as part of that program. After the war ended, the government quietly shut down all the hemp processing plants and the industry faded away again.

President Barack Obama signed the Farm Bill, also known as the Agricultural Act of 2014. Section 7606 of the statute, titled “Legitimacy of Industrial Hemp Research,” gave authorization to state departments of agriculture and institutions of higher learning in states that have legalized hemp cultivation to grow the crop for research and pilot programs.

Since the implementation of the Farm Bill, more than 30 states have passed laws regarding industrial hemp. At least 16 of those states have approved laws allowing for commercial production, giving growers rights beyond those listed in the Farm Bill.

Source: Hemp Industries Association

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