The Fate of Industrial Hemp: What Happens Next?
Diving into the History of Hemp in the U.S.
Hemp isn’t a new plant by any means — its usefulness has been recognized for decades, but there’s a lot of confusion about how it can be used and for what purposes. As it gains popularity, an increased number of businesses and politicians around the world are realizing the scope of its potential.
It’s an interesting topic, because the use of industrial hemp touches politics, economics, clinical research, and more. From pharmaceutical advancements to manufacturing materials, hemp is making its utility known, but it hasn’t been an easy road. Today, we’ll give you a short primer on the history and fate of industrial hemp.
The history of hemp in the U.S.
Hemp has a downright fascinating history — it was first cultivated in Colonial America, and fibers were used in the lines, sails and caulking of the Mayflower. In fact, British colonies in America were legally obligated to grow hemp. They could even pay their taxes with it, the plant was that important to the economy.
So, what happened to hemp?
In 1937, the U.S. government passed the Marijuana Tax Act, which was meant to regulate narcotic varieties of cannabis. Further, the regulation of hemp production was handed over to the Department of Revenue, who then handled the licensing of hemp growers. This alone didn’t have an extreme impact, but it did pave the way for more regulations that grouped hemp into the same category as cannabis.
To add to hemp’s troubles, the rise of synthetic fibers made it less attractive to farm and cultivate. Then, in 1970, the Controlled Substances Act was passed and hemp was included as a Schedule 1 drug.
In 2004, the U.S. government finally allowed the import of dietary hemp products, but the big win didn’t come until 2007 when two North Dakota farmers were allowed hemp licenses. Crazily enough, it was the first time this was permitted in more than 50 years. Then, in 2014, the Farm Bill was signed into law, granting permission for hemp cultivation in state-authorized pilot programs. This provided a much-needed opportunity for researchers to continue studying the benefits of this amazing plant.
Now that the legislation around hemp production has changed, there’s no stopping hemp.
States continue to pass regulations permitting hemp production for certain purposes, which allows more farmers to take part, and public support continues to grow. Just have a look at this round-up of the top 17 most compelling studies on hemp extract from 2017. Researchers are studying hemp extract’s impact on everything from treatment-resistant seizures to anxiety and fear.
On the legislative front, the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 has been introduced to the Senate. It hasn’t passed yet, but if it does, many restrictions and regulations on growing hemp will be removed.
The future of hemp in the U.S.
While we can’t predict the future, all signs point to hemp’s comeback as a major player in a variety of industries.
For example, hemp is being used in a number of natural products. It’s even being discussed at industry conferences. Perhaps most importantly, public enthusiasm continues to rise as people learn more about hemp’s uses and benefits. And, as state and local economies start seeing the real economic impact of the hemp industry, they’re likely to break down even more barriers to using this remarkable plant in consumer applications.
– The Weller+ Team
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