Almost A Century Lost

Almost A Century Lost

Regaining ground in the hemp industry and what exactly that means for you.

Up until about the last 100 years or so, the hemp industry was thriving. Hemp was a solution to many problems globally for thousands of years and has arguably been the most significant plant for the forward progress of mankind up until this last century.

Hemp was possibly the earliest plant that was cultivated by different early civilizations and used in the making of textile fibers. The world’s first paper was produced from hemp. Hemp has been used medicinally as well as ceremonially and religiously in many cultures around the world. There are literally thousands of different types of uses for hemp that have been documented in the annals of history.

Nearly everything you can imagine! Hemp has one of the most diverse range of uses of all known plants: paint, printing ink, government documents, bank notes, food, clothing (the first pair of Levi’s Jeans was made from hemp), artist canvas, rope, composite board, plastics, and list goes on - some claim there are up to 25,000 different uses for this mysterious plant.

So why in the world would someone want to demonize this plant and get it banned from being grown when it has so much value to offer to humankind and the forward progress of civilization?

How did we go from using hemp for nearly everything under the sun to a perception that it is just something that “gets you high.”

Excellent questions and I’m glad you asked.

Let’s go back to the turn of the century in North America and take a look at exactly what was going on and see if we can figure out why anyone would want to blacklist this amazing botanical.

At the turn of the 20th century the hemp industry was booming. By the mid 1930’s, major publications were even beginning to talk about hemp as being the next “billion-dollar-crop.” And then, in 1937, the growing and selling of hemp was banned in the United States altogether. Soon after the U.S. banned hemp, Canada followed by banning it under the Opium and Narcotics Act a year or so later in 1938.

So what the heck happened? How did hemp go from hero to zero so fast?

The glory days of hemp were short-lived in the 20th century. And here is exactly what happened.

The tycoons and business barons of the cotton, paper, and lumber industries (among many others) began to realize that hemp was the biggest threat to their businesses and they began to look for ways to overshadow hemp. Not long after they came to this conclusion, due to the lobbying efforts of these businessmen, unfair tax laws were put in place, including an occupational excise tax levied on hemp farmers to make it difficult for them to grow and sell their hemp.

Propaganda from newspapers and other channels began to demonize all cannabis plants, including the marijauna plant that had been recently introduced by Mexican immigrants fleeing the effects of the Mexican Revolution. Publications began to produce studies showing correlations between those who use marijauna recreationally and criminal activity. While we are not here to argue whether or not those studies were accurate or just more propaganda used by the powers that be, regardless, it worked. Unfortunately, cannabis of all kinds began to be all lumped together into the same category and gain an unclean reputation. Cannabis was now being fully associated with laziness, “getting high” and a host of other things that were against social norms of the day - a far cry from the illustrious and prestigious origin stories of hemp’s beginnings.

Fortunately, this prohibition only lasted a few decades. As of recent, hemp has been freed from it’s unjust bureaucratic chains. December 2018 has been the month of liberation for hemp in North America as the 2018 Farm Bill has been signed into law. There are many important provisions in the bill, but maybe none more important for hemp supporters than the fact that hemp has officially been removed from the federal controlled substances list and can now reclaim it’s spot where it belongs…on the “plants that have a whole lot of value to add to humans” list (is that a list?).

It may be a long time before hemp has been fully restored and vindicated. There is certainly a long road ahead of un-brainwashing society and reminding them that hemp is vital and we need it to keep evolving and moving forward. But we are certainly moving in the right direction.

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