The Early Years
The Regulation Roller Coaster Ride
Hemp has been around for thousands of years. In ancient times, hemp was used for the basic necessities: food, shelter, netting, and clothing. Here in North America, hemp has played a fundamental role in our history.
The King of England offered free land (and free seed) to immigrants who moved to Canada and grew hemp. American farmers were required by law to grow hemp in Virginia and other colonies. All ships crossing the ocean were rigged with hemp sails. Pioneer wagons had hemp covers. Even a draft of the U.S. Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper! Ironically, in 1937 hemp was strictly regulated by the Marijuana Tax Act, largely due to confusion with other kinds of cannabis. Hemp could only be grown through specially issued government tax stamps, making any type of possession/transfer without a tax stamp illegal.
1942, the U.S. Department of Agriculture launched a Hemp For Victory campaign to get patriotic farmers to grow hemp in support of war efforts.
For over a decade, hundreds of thousands of hemp acres were grown and the industry thrived. Then in 1957, once World War II had ended, demand for hemp decreased and so did hemp production. The last commercial hemp fields were planted in 1957 in Wisconsin.
In 1970, the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act went into effect abolishing the taxation approach of the Marijuana Tax Act, effectively making all cultivation of cannabis illegal by setting a zero tolerance for THC.
In a mid-1930s issue, Popular Mechanics Magazine declared hemp to be the next billion-dollar crop estimating over 25,000 different uses for hemp.