In our last post we covered a brief history of hemp up until the early 1900’s. The future was bright for our favorite plant back in those days, but big changes were on the horizon.
After World War I, farmers dropped their production of hemp drastically as fiber became more available and affordable from foreign sources. In the 1930’s, industries with opposing interests began aggressive anti-hemp campaigns. Lumber companies, synthetic textiles, petroleum, and plastics companies all saw hemp as a competitor and a threat.
In 1937, lobbyists finally convinced the U.S. government to create the Marihuana Tax Act, a set of prohibitive tax laws against hemp. Later that year production of the plant was outlawed altogether.
During World War II, there was a slight reprieve as the Marihuana Tax Act was temporarily lifted in support of the war. At this time the U.S. Department of Agriculture encouraged farmers to grow hemp across the Midwest and the South.
After the war, however, hemp went back to its previously illegal status. Although it’s not the same plant as marijuana, hemp was too closely associated since they are both in the cannabis family. Soon, farmers abandoned their hemp endeavors and returned to their regular crops.
Big industries such as tobacco, and certain political movements continued to lobby against hemp, until in 1970, when the Controlled Substances Act was passed. This classified THC, a compound found in the cannabis family of plants, as a schedule I substance. Unlike marijuana, hemp has a very low THC content, but the law was overarching and made no exceptions.
Today, things are turning around for hemp. Aside from the many states that have legalized marijuana (the cannabis family member with a high content of THC), many states have embraced hemp farming again under the U.S. Farm Bill.
In 2018 hemp was federally legalized, and the sale of hemp products like CBD is a becoming a profitable business for many farmers and retailers. In this rapidly growing industry, things continue to change, and many states are restricting the sale of hemp despite its legal status. North Carolina is one state that has gone back and forth, attempting to outlaw smokeable hemp, but postponing it until at least May of 2020 (as of this blog post).
We will continue to keep a close eye on these developments, and keep advocating for hemp and all of the benefits it offers.