The History of Hemp Prohibition in the United States

Hemp has been around for thousands of years, with the earliest traces found in 8000 BC. C. in the Asian regions that are now China and Taiwan. It is believed to be one of the first agricultural crops, and it was an important part of the early history of the United States.

However, attitudes towards hemp cultivation began to change in the early 20th century, and in 1937, hemp production was banned in the United States with the passage of the Marijuana Tax Act. This law grouped hemp together with its cousin, cannabis, and subjected all hemp sales to high taxes. During World War II, the United States government promoted hemp through its “Hemp for Victory” program, but after the war ended, hemp processing plants were shut down and the industry disappeared again. In 1970, hemp was included as a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act, effectively banning its production.

The main promoter of the Marijuana Tax Act was Harry Anslinger, who began promoting anti-marijuana legislation around the world. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor disrupted foreign supplies of jute fiber (colloquially called “Manila hemp”) from the Philippines, leading to a USDA film called “HEMP For Victory” to encourage US farmers to grow hemp for the war effort. After centuries of cultivation in North America for its fibers used in the manufacture of ropes and textiles, hemp was banned in the United States because it is made from one of the same plant species (Cannabis sativa) as marijuana. Under section 10113 of the Farm Bill, state agriculture departments must consult with their state governor and chief law enforcement official to design a plan that must be submitted to the USDA Secretary.

People and our government are realizing the potential of hemp to have a positive impact on our health, economy and environment. Both Presidents Washington and Jefferson grew hemp, and Americans were legally required to grow hemp during the Colonial Era and Principles of the Republic. Taxes could even be paid with hemp for more than 150 years. The government has published numerous reports and other documents on hemp that date back to the beginning of our country. There has been some controversy over this bill, as some have argued that this policy aimed to reduce the size of the hemp industry to help emerging plastic and nylon industries gain market share.

The height of hemp promotion came when the United States government released a pro-hemp documentary called Hemp for Victory, encouraging farmers across the Midwest and Southeast to grow hemp to support the war. For decades, federal law did not differentiate hemp from other cannabis plants, all of which were declared illegal in 1937 under the Marijuana Tax Act and formally declared illegal in 1970 under the Controlled Substances Act; The latter banned cannabis of any kind. After all, in its five thousand-year history of cultivation on Earth, half a century of prohibition does not seem very long.

Tamara Lutze
Tamara Lutze

General travel nerd. Incurable zombie ninja. Infuriatingly humble food fanatic. Freelance beer lover. Unapologetic travel specialist.

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