Hemp History

American Hemp History

Jamestown settlers introduced hemp to colonial America in the early 1600s for rope, paper, and other fiber-based products; they even imposed fines on those who didn’t produce the crop themselves. U.S. presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp.

The U.S. Constitution and Flag, two of our most cherished symbols were made of hemp before it was prohibited. Industrial hemp growing was an important part of American agriculture and farmers were encouraged by the government.

Betsy Ross made the first flag of the United States of America out of the finest, strongest fiber available, hemp fabric.

Hemp was a prominent crop in the United States until 1937, when the Marijuana Tax Act virtually obliterated the American hemp industry. During World War II, the crop saw a resurgence in the U.S., as it was used extensively to make military items including uniforms, canvas, and rope. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) even released a short documentary, “Hemp for Victory,” in 1942, which promoted the plant as a useful crop for the war cause.

The World War II hemp resurgence was short-lived, though. Until the passing of the 2014 Farm Bill, the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 kept industrial production dormant. Today, hemp is rapidly becoming an indispensable resource for CBD oil and other CBD products.

Federal Action

Modern American Hemp Cultivation Legal in the U.S.

The 2014 Agricultural Act, more commonly known as the 2014 Farm Bill, signed by Democratic President Barack Obama, includes section 7606, which allows for universities and state departments of agriculture to cultivate industrial hemp, as long as it is cultivated and used for research. Under the 2014 Agricultural act, state departments and universities must also be registered with their state, and defer to state laws and regulations for approval to grow hemp.

As part of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, or the 2018 Farm Bill, signed by Republican President Donald Trump, the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 reclassified hemp (with less than 0.3% THC) from Schedule I, the most restrictive classification of controlled substances by the federal government, and are considered highly prone to abuse and to not have any medicinal benefits. This move to federally legalize industrial production of the plant allowed for cultivation and distribution as a legal agricultural product.

Under the Hemp Farming Act, hemp cultivation is no longer limited to state departments and universities. In addition, the act allows farmers rights to water, crop insurance, and federal agricultural grants, as well as legal access to national banking. Hemp may also be transported across state lines.

What’s the Difference Between Hemp and Marijuana?

  • Hemp and marijuana are both cannabis, but their morphology, chemical makeup, and usages are very different.
  • Hemp isn’t completely absent of intoxicating compounds, but that doesn’t mean it will get you high.
  • In stark contrast to marijuana fields, most female hemp fields include sporadically placed males to pollinate the females in order to produce nutrient-rich seeds.
  • Hemp was a prominent crop in the United States until 1937 when the Marihuana Tax Act virtually obliterated the industry in America.

What Are People Saying?

BastCore’s connection to our broader fiber system will create opportunity for larger retailers looking to make inventive blends of hemp and Climate Beneficial Wool. They will also offer small fiber mills the potential to create farm yarns that combine the beauty of protein fibers and cellulose fibers all grown within the same region.

- A New Breed of Fiber Mill: BastCore Hemp Processing | Nov. 2017

 

Maddy Bartsch

Fibershed Reporter

“Hemp is a more sustainable, organic, and regenerative agricultural crop and most everything that you can make with cotton can be made with hemp, with way less impact on the Earth.” - Morris Beegle, co-founder, and president of WAFBA (We Are For Better Alternatives) told Forbes.com

Morris Beegle

Co-founder and President of WAFBA (We Are For Better Alternatives)
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