The Unfortunate Outlawing of Hemp: A Historical Perspective

For centuries, hemp was cultivated in North America for its fibers used in the manufacture of ropes and textiles. Unfortunately, it was declared illegal due to its association with marijuana, a plant from the same species (Cannabis sativa). This was a result of the War on Drugs, which continues to this day. The ban on hemp production was enacted in 1937 with the passage of the Marijuana Tax Act.

Recently, the North Carolina House of Representatives and Senate approved a bill that would legalize industrial hemp production in the state. During World War II, hemp quickly became an important war material. The United States had banned hemp, but imported it from the Philippines. However, when the Japanese invaded the Philippines, supply was disrupted and both the United States and Canada had no choice but to temporarily lift restrictions on hemp production.

Farmers were allowed to grow hemp with special permits, but only for war efforts. Today, state departments of agriculture and the USDA continue to regulate hemp production. The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) of 1970 placed hemp in the same category as marijuana, making it difficult to grow.

Hemp is not

marijuana, but its resemblance to cannabis has kept it banned in the United States for decades despite its many uses for textiles, food, cosmetics and other purposes.

The Drug Enforcement Administration has granted several dozen permits to grow hemp in nine states. The Hemp Industries Association has also named this law as the beginning of the ban on hemp, as it made it difficult for farmers to produce hemp. Despite this fact, hemp is used for practical purposes such as clothing and concrete, whereas marijuana has no practical uses. Hemp seeds have also been found to have important qualities in curing constipation.

According to a February 1938 edition of Popular Mechanics, hemp was about to become a multi-billion dollar crop before the Marijuana Tax Act was passed. This law gave states and universities the right to research a plant whose cultivation of hemp in the United States had long been banned. Ambrose from the University of Kentucky School of Medicine told PBS NewsHour that William Randolph Hearst was so threatened by hemp that he published artificial articles in his newspapers about the dangers of cannabis. Hemp is cultivated for its fibers and health-beneficial compounds called cannabinoids. While both contain THC, hemp has much lower levels so people can enjoy its health benefits without getting high.

Cosmetics and soaps produced with hemp seed oil are becoming more widely available.

Tori Clar
Tori Clar

Subtly charming internet scholar. General music aficionado. Avid beer buff. Evil music expert. Lifelong food advocate. Award-winning beer practitioner.