“Hemp is of first necessity to the wealth and protection of the country.” 

-Thomas Jefferson


A Brief History of Hemp

Throughout history, Hemp has been used for its strength and durability. Weaving of hemp fiber began over 10,000 years ago. In the 16th Century, Great Britain had a steady supply of hemp for the construction of battleships and their components. In 17th Century America, farmers in Virginia, Massachusetts and Connecticut were ordered by law to grow Indian hemp. Ironic to our time, by the early 18th century, a person could be sentenced to jail if they weren’t growing hemp on their land. This was because, for over 200 years in colonial America, hemp was currency that one could use to pay their taxes with.

However, after Rudolph Diesel created the famous engine to be powered by vegetable and seed oils, and Henry Ford saw the potential of biomass fuels, hemp became a threat to many industries. By 1920 the hemp crop was entirely handled by machinery and smear campaigns against hemp were launched by competing industries, associating hemp with marijuana. One famous propaganda film was “Reefer Madness.” This lead to the marijuana Tax Act in 1937.

From 1937 until the late 1960s the United States government recognized that Industrial Hemp and marijuana were two distinct varieties of the cannabis plant. However, after the Controlled Substances Act was passed, hemp was no longer recognized as being distinct from marijuana…

Here we are 10 years later, and times are changing again. State representatives have stood up to the federal government and have legalized cannabis for medicinal and recreational use. Recently, California Senate proposed SB 1409, which hopes to change California’s industrial hemp laws. This piece of legislation proposes to allow cultivators to harvest hemp for CBD derivation, and related use. It would also authorize the state Department of Food and Agriculture to carry out an agricultural pilot program for industrial hemp. California is now moving toward regulating industrial hemp in a very progressive way.


To read more about the current state of industrial hemp under federal law, as well as what other states have done to regulate it:


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