The Rich History of Hemp dates as far back as 8,000 BCE.
Grown first in parts of Asia, then spread to parts of Africa, Europe and later the South American regions. Hemp was commonly found to be used for food and creating tools, clothing and rope. Hemp was valuable as one of the first crops ever grown. It was valued later throughout many religions as cited by religious documents.
The Hemp crops ultimately made their way to North America with the first Colonists in 1606.
Hemp was used for oil in lanterns, in food, to make clothing ropes paper textiles and tools. It was used in herbal remedies before many doctors had become established in North America. Hemp crops made such an impact that in the 1700’s, colonies began to implement laws requiring farmers to grow Hemp. The uses and popularity of Hemp would eventually be exemplified in the creation Automobiles and 25,000 other products that would use Hemp fibers. By 1942, the USDA would initiate the Hemp for Victory program. This led to more than a million acres of Hemp production.
So how did Hemp change from one of the most valuable crops, to one of the most scarce crops in America?
This change was spurred by the Controlled Substances Act in 1970. This Act created five Schedules of Illicit Drugs; level 1 being the most illicit. Cannabis fell into Schedule 1, and as discussed previously Hemp is Cannabis. Therefore, strict regulations were placed on the cultivation of Industrial Hemp as well as Cannabis for consumption. In following years, Hemp products would eventually disappear from shelves and the manufacturing of these products would cease.
By 1998, the U.S. began allowing the import of Food-Grade Hemp Seed and Oil.
However, in 2001 the DEA was back to bat banning the sale of these oils seeds and food containing “any amount of THC”. The Hemp Industries Association, as well as several other plaintiffs, would not allow such poorly defined regulation without a battle. They file for an Urgent Motion for Stay and were granted this by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. This allowed the sale of these products to continue nationwide as the case was litigated.
Eventually, in 2004 the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a unanimous decision protecting the sale of hemp-containing foods, clothing, beauty or body care products.
Industrial hemp remains legal for import and sale in the U.S., but U.S. farmers still are not permitted to grow it.
This is how a crop that once fueled President Washington’s lantern became illegal to cultivate in American soil.