For centuries, hemp was a staple crop in North America, used to make ropes and textiles. But in 1937, the Marijuana Tax Act was passed, making it difficult for farmers to produce hemp and effectively banning it in the United States. This was part of the War on Drugs, which saw hemp placed in the same category as marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. In recent years, however, hemp has been making a comeback.
North Carolina recently passed a bill that would legalize industrial hemp production in the state. Hemp can be used to make more than 25,000 products, from paper to building materials. And Bruce Dietzen drove from Florida to Colorado in a car made of hemp. The ban on hemp can be traced back to Harry Anslinger, who popularized the name “marijuana” in order to link it to drug use and began publishing anti-cannabis messages.
He also oversaw the passage of the Marijuana Tax Act in 1937, which made the drug illegal in the United States. The Drug Enforcement Administration has granted several dozen permits to grow hemp in nine states, and a team of scientists recently manufactured a supercapacitor with leftover hemp. It is said that Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and George Washington were all enthusiastic hemp growers. But despite its long history in North America, hemp remains illegal in many parts of the United States. Federal guidelines should help reduce operating and compliance costs for both companies and hemp farmers, but until then, hemp remains a controversial crop.