Hemp’s History In America


Hemp’s History In America

In modern-day China and Taiwan, around 8,000 B.C.E, researchers and archaeologists discovered hemp as a daily usage for pottery, as a food supplement in both seed and oil form, and as a medicine. In 2000 B.C.E, Indians also started to use hemp as its sacred plant calling it “Sacred Grass”.

Finally, in 600 B.C.E, Hemp was discovered in Southern Russia and 100 years later, researchers found a jar of hemp seed and some leaves in Germany. Since then, the use of hemp kept spreading throughout Europe. In 200 B.C.E, an archaeological trip provided the researchers' hemp rope. About almost 670 years later, a French queen was discovered while draped in hemp attire.

In 850, Vikings spread hemp around Iceland and 50 years later, the Arabs started to make hemp paper. The usage of hemp was now ubiquitous, and it spread to the farms of England. Farmers not growing were fined by King Henry the Sixth. From those times of 1533 to 12 years later, Brazil, part of South America, witnessed the usage of hemp when the Portuguese colonized the area.

Just 65 years later, when the first permanent English settlement arrived in Jamestown, Americas, hemp was grown for ropes, sails, and clothing purposes. Since then, hemp has been used in the Americas. The earlier laws in the 1700s required farmers to grow hemp throughout the British Colonies. The U.S Founders wrote The Declaration of Independence drafts on hemp paper as well. Abraham Lincoln used hemp seed as fuel for his lamps in 1840.

Post Independence Usage Of Hemp In America

The United States Drug Association (USDA) revealed a finding which stated that hemp produces more paper than normal trees. It further provided a figure which estimated that compared to trees, per acre of hemp provides four times more paper. This report was published in 1916. Later in 1937, The Marijuana Tax Act was the first restriction on hemp and other Cannabis Sativa families. This step led to the decreased production and discouraged its usage as well.

However, Just a year later in 1938, a magazine in operation since 1902 released an article that talked about the benefits of hemp and how it could be used as a versatile supplement in 25,000 products. This led to ambivalent thoughts among the masses as people started to ponder if USDA or the Taxes on hemp were justifiable.


In 1942, Henry Ford used hemp fiber to build a prototype of a car, which proved to be 10 times stronger than steel. In the same year, USDA introduced the “Hemp for Victory” program. Under this program, hemp was farmed on an area of more than 150,000 acres. This went on for almost 15 years and then, there was a restriction once again. Thus, 1957 was the last commercial hemp production year for hemp production. Thirteen years later in 1970, an act known as the Controlled Substances Act decreed hemp as an illegal drug. It was labeled as Schedule 1 and severe regulations were introduced to halt the production of industrial hemp and prevent marijuana as well. For almost 28 years, the regulation on hemp and marijuana continued with full force until 1998. In that year, hemp seed and oil were imported as edible/food products.


For six years, hemp started to catch its potency in the organic market as an edible, and in the industrial market as a commercial product, and in livestock as a by-product for mainly cattle feed. During the Circuit Court sessions between the Hemp Industries Association (HIA) and DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration), the Ninth session was given in favor of HIA and hemp food products, body care, and other uses were allowed in the U.S. The sales of hemp could not be stopped now.


This meant good news to the farmers and in 2007, after 50 years, hemp licenses were granted to farmers. Two North Dakota farmers were the first ones to receive such clearance. This continued as more and more farmers started getting licenses for hemp production. In 2014, the Farm Bill was signed by Barack Obama. This bill allowed institutions to test hemp farming. After one year of results and pilot testing, The Industrial Hemp Farming Act was introduced in both houses. It was a big step for hemp’s legalization which was to ensue.

In 2016, USDA certified a Colorado farm with an organic tag for its hemp production. After continuous progress and farming done at many levels throughout the USA, hemp was finally legalized in 2018 under the Farm Bill which was initiated during Barack Obama’s time. Ex-President Donald Trump’s tenure saw the legalization of hemp as he signed on the bill, and removed hemp and other Cannabis Sativa families from the jurisdictions of the Controlled Substances Act. After more than a century’s struggle, hemp was finally legalized in the USA.


Hemp Production Analysis

During the 20th century, hemp received massive support for hemp production initially, only to end the century with decades of ban from 1970 till the 1998s. This would not have happened if hemp was not a relative to the Cannabis Sativa family. As marijuana continued to grow as a menace for the USDA, all the other related cannabis were also included in The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937.

It was that time when the hemp industry plummeted, not to rise back until 2006. However, many controversies and theories stated the ban and regulation were placed to promote the plastic and nylon industries which were new entrants in the American market. This is validated when the U.S regularized hemp production during World War 2.


The Department of Agriculture started to promote it in magazines and advertisements. The promotions were backed up by the U.S government, who also produced an entire documentary to talk about its benefits and establish a better standing of hemp in the American public’s minds. Hence, the Midwest and the Southeast started to grow hemp to support the war. Therefore, from the years 1942-1945, over 400,000 acres were used for hemp production.

The program was a success and once World War 2 ended, the U.S reverted to its sentence, claiming hemp as a regulated substance once again. The hemp industry which had grown dramatically in the last few years plunged back to its disorderly state. Farmers stopped the cultivation process and many switched towards producing nylon and plastic to yield better profits. The state of Wisconsin saw the last hemp commercial which was aired in 1957. From then on, hemp production fell and in 1970, the ban made the overall hemp usage dormant for almost 30 years. During those times, hemp was grouped in substance 1 drug category which contained heroin and Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD).

Increasing Demand Of Hemp Once Again

From those turbulent times of ambiguous policies which favored and despised the production of hemp at the same time, the future of hemp and its historical perspective looks better than it was in the 1900s. Now, it is being used in the economy for social, financial, and medicinal gain. The uplifting of the ban in 2004 paved the way for the new century, emphasizing how important hemp was to artisans and small businesses. Not only could it be used for edible and medicinal purposes, but the textile industry could also use hemp for its production of diverse attire.

Hemp’s major win was the licensing which we discussed earlier, where two North Dakota were approved for hemp licenses in 2007. This was a breakthrough as it had taken almost 50 years and many appeals and struggles from the hemp farmers and associations. The Farm Bill which was introduced later bulked up the weightage of hemp and its importance in American society and economy.

From the 2018 legalization, the roadmap for hemp is once again set for growth. Interest from industries, medical researchers, and the public have risen over the years. Customers from all circles are studying and trying out the benefits of hemp and CBD (cannabidiol) oil. In 2019, farmers got the approval of 500,000 acres of land for hemp production out of which half of the area was originally used.