History of Hemp

drawing of hemp

About Hemp

Hemp History

Hemp is among the oldest industries on the planet, going back more than 10,000 years to the beginnings of pottery. The Columbia History of the World states that the oldest relic of human industry is a bit of hemp fabric dating back to approximately 8,000 BC.

In 1937, Congress passed the Marihuana Tax Act which effectively began the era of hemp prohibition. The chief promoter of the Tax Act, Harry Anstinger, began promoting antimarijuana legislation around the world. However, he failed to note that hemp does not contain THC, the psychoactive element that makes people “high”.

During 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.

During the period from 1937 to the late 60s, the U.S. government understood and acknowledged that industrial hemp and marijuana were distinct varieties of the Cannabis plant. Hemp was no longer officially recognized as distinct from marijuana after the passage of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) of 1970. This is despite the fact that a specific exemption for hemp was included in the CSA under the definition of marijuana. The recent federal court case HIA vs DEA has re-established acknowledgment of distinct varieties of Cannabis, and supports the exemption for non-viable seed and fiber and any products made from them.

Historical Hemp

Documents and Reports

The U.S. government has published numerous reports and other documents on hemp dating back to the beginnings of our country. Below is a list of some of the documents that have been discovered:

• 1797: secretary of war uss constitution’s hemp
• 1810: John Quincy Adams Russian Hemp Cultivation
• 1827 U. S. navy commissioner water rotted hemp
• 1873 hemp culture in Japan
• 1895 USDA Hemp Seed
• 1899 USDA Secretary Hemp
• 1901 USDA Lyster Dewey Hemp and Flax Seed
• 1903 Lyster Dewey Principal Commercial Plant Products
• 1909 USDA Secretary Fiber Investigations Hemp/Flax
• 1913 Lyster Dewey Hemp soils, Yields, and economics
• 1913 Lyster Dewey Tests For Hemp, List of Products
• 1916 USDA Bulletin 404 Hemp as a Paper Making Material
• 1917 Hemp Seed supply of the Nation
• 1917 USDA Cannabis
• 1927 USDA Lester Dewey Hemp Varieties
• 1931 USDA Lester Dewey Hemp Fiber Losing Ground
• 1943 USDA Hemp for Victory documentary film
• 1947 USDA Hemp Day Length and Flowering
• 1956 USDA Monoecious Hemp Breeding in the US.
• 2004 HIA V. DEA CASE
• 2005 Sen. Paul The Controlled substances act of Industrial hemp farming act
• 2012 Sen. Wyden Set specific standards for what is industrial hemp
• 2014 President Obama Farm Bill Defining industrial hemp
• 2018 President Trump Set hemp growing standards for tribal and state lawmakers.

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