How is it possible that such a potent plant's medicinal qualities were overlooked and entirely dismissed for so many years? Public perception and draconian laws robbed us of the opportunity to enjoy the bounty of a plant that taps into our own personal engines (our endocannabinoid system). Let's take a moment to learn a little more about the history of hemp, how it got a bad name, and what the future looks like for this hearty, prolific weed.
What is Hemp
Hemp is a tall widely cultivated Asian herb (Cannabis sativa of the family Cannabaceae, the hemp family) that is cultivated for its tough bast fiber and edible seeds and oil. It is often separated into a tall loosely branched species (C. Sativa) and a low-growing densely branched species (C. Idica).
Another name for it is industrial hemp, which refers to the non-psychoactive (less than 1% THC) varieties of Cannabis Sativa L. Both hemp and marijuana come from the same cannabis species, but are genetically distinct and are further distinguished by use, chemical makeup, and cultivation methods.
CBD is found in both hemp and cannabis, but cultivated hemp is often distinguished from cannabis by possessing very low levels of the psychoactive substance THC. Hemp derived CBD is a great alternative to anyone who is concerned about the potential "high" from ingesting CBD. In fact, hemp-derived CBD can be 100% THC free so it's great for anyone who wants the reassurance that they won't get any of the psychoactive ingredients.
Hemp is not an evil plant that is smuggled over the border but instead a colonial staple of American Industry that's been used to make rope, flour, textiles, plastics & more. Hemp is also known to be ideal construction material because it is lighter and stronger than lumber. For a timeline of hemp's history please click here.
Drug War leads to Hemp's Demise
Although hemp was a big part of early US history, attitudes towards the crop started to change in the early 1900s. When the US government increased its resolve to fight against drugs such as marijuana, hemp somehow got grouped together with its cannabis cousin. The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 severely damaged the hemp industry, as the sale of the plant began to get heavily taxed. Controversy soon followed the bill, as some argued that the policy was aimed at reducing hemp's market share in order to help the emerging plastic and nylon industries.
This led to fewer farmers cultivating hemp and many hemp processors declaring bankruptcy. The last commercial hemp farm in the US was planted in Wisconsin in 1957. Hemp farming was officially banned altogether in 1970 with the passage of the Controlled Substances Act in which hemp was included as a Schedule 1 drug, illogically grouping this crop with drugs like heroin and LSD.
A Modern Day Call To Action
In the nineties, as the marijuana legalization movement gained traction, a number of states began to introduce legislation to allow hemp cultivation to start anew, in opposition of the federal ban. However, a number of legal and practical roadblocks prevented farmers from truly planting hemp on any meaningful scale until recently.
The 2014 Farm Bill included a provision that allowed states to initiate research programs on hemp cultivation. Though the federal ban on commercial cultivation remained intact, this new policy was taken as a sign that federal rules would ultimately be loosened further. In addition, public opinion began to shift as Americans became more educated about hemp as a cash crop and the demand for Hemp Health Solutions grew.
In raw numbers, hemp continues to be a very minor crop, but it is quickly expanding: in 2016, less than 10,000 acres were grown nationwide; in 2017, that number doubled to almost 26,000 acres; by 2018 hemp farmers were cultivating 78,000 acres. The interest from farmers coupled with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, which lifted the federal band on hemp cultivation, the future of hemp is looking very bright. And an added benefit of the hemp industry's explosion is the direct effect the plant has on damaged soil, by putting nutrients back into the ground as it grows.
Expect big things from hemp in the future because it has always been a super plant. It is resilient, growing in almost any climate. It can be used in countless ways for construction, sustenance, and therapeutic purposes. Hemp is not evil. Hemp is beautiful. And you can find pure hemp CBD products in our collection of all natural nutraceutical solutions.
Hemp has come a long way and it's only getting started.