Hemp is a strain of the Cannabis Sativa plant. Archaeological evidence shows that hemp plants were grown and cultivated by humans over 10,000 years ago for its highly useful fibers which were used to create various textiles, rope, clothing, and insulation. At the time, it was also utilized for food and cherished for its medicinal purposes.
In early America, Hemp was cultivated by the indigenous people who lived here. When the early European settlers began establishing their farms, it was mandated by many of the colonies that each farmer grow hemp where it was used in these settlements and also shipped back overseas for utilization in England and other countries. Hemp was also utilized as legal tender during these early days.
Around the time that America gained its independence from England, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were growing large crops of cannabis on their plantations. Our ability to grow and utilize this extremely useful plant may have been one of the many factors that assisted with winning our freedom.
As time went on, many more states and territories produced large amounts of Cannabis and laws were passed to ensure that the military only used domestically grown hemp. New agricultural technologies were invented and utilized to assist with the harvest and manufacturing of products using this useful plant.
In the late 1930s, the federal government passed the Marijuana Tax Act which added significant taxes on domestic hemp farmers. During this time we saw the introduction of synthetic fibers and cheaper imported fibers that decreased the demand for domestically grown hemp.
During World War 2, domestically grown hemp made a comeback. Seeds were available through the government and films were released to assist in both educating and encouraging farmers to grow hemp for the war effort. This hemp crop was primarily utilized to make clothing, rope, packs, and cord. Once the war was over, the farmers went back to focusing on their other crops and hemp once again faded into American history.
In the 1970s, the Controlled Substances Act was passed which regulated all cannabis plants including hemp. In the early 2000s, the Court of Appeals ruled that the Drug Enforcement Administration did not have the authority to regulate hemp fiber, sterilized hemp seed, and hemp oil.
Since then, there has slowly been progressing made to allow hemp cultivation and research. There has also been renewed interest in domestic cultivation and understanding more about the medicinal uses for the plant. With the demand growing, and congress under pressure, the 2018 Farm Bill was passed which legalized the cultivation of domestic hemp nationwide which also included the sale of CBD products.