Copyright 2006 Francesca Black
In 1619 Jamestown Colony, Virginia enacted laws ordering farmers to grow hemp. Similar laws were enacted in Massachusetts in 1631, Connecticut in 1632 and the Chesapeake Colonies in the mid-1700’s.
Even though the U.S. government encouraged American farmers to grow hemp for WWII and had even accepted it as payment of taxes in Colonial America, it is now prohibited to grow hemp in the United States.
Cannabis hemp was legal tender in most of the Americas from 1631 until the early 1800’s. you could even pay your taxes with cannabis hemp. In the mid-to-late 1800’s the 2nd & 3rd most commonly used medications were concentrated cannabis extracts and resins (a.k.a. hashish). At one time American companies Eli Lily, Squibb and Park Davis produced cannabis extract medicines but clearly that is no longer the case..
Today the THC levels in industrial hemp are so low that no one could ever get high from smoking it. Moreover, hemp contains a relatively high percentage of another cannabinoid, CBD, that actually blocks the marijuana high. Hemp, it turns out, is not only not marijuana; it could be called ‘antimarijuana.’ Although opponents of hemp production claim that hemp fields will be used to hide marijuana fields, this is unlikely because cross-pollination between hemp and marijuana plants would significantly reduce the potency of the marijuana plant.
On March 12, 1998, Canada legalized hemp production and set a limit of 0.3% THC content that may be present in the plants and requires that all seeds be certified for THC content.
In 1942 the US government strongly encouraged hemp cultivation to help with the war effort, going so far as to produce a film entitled “Hemp For Victory”. Hemp was grown commercially (with increasing government interference) in the United States until the 1950s. While congress expressly expected the continued production of industrial hemp, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics lumped industrial hemp with marijuana, as its successor the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), does to this day. Even though the US government encouraged American farmers to grow hemp for WWII and had even accepted it as payment of taxes in Colonial America, it is now prohibited to grow hemp in the United States. While industrial hemp and marijuana may look somewhat alike to the untrained eye, an easily trained eye can easily distinguish the difference.
The European Union subsidizes its farmers to grow industrial hemp. Hemp seed is not psychoactive and cannot be used as a drug. Hemp Seed does not contain THC. From 1842 through the 1880s, extremely strong marijuana (then known as cannabis extractums), hashish extracts, tinctures, and elixirs were routinely the second and third most-used medicines in America for humans (from birth through old age). These extracts were also used in veterinary medicine until the 1920s.
The illogical and unrealistic reasons for not growing hemp should be set aside now, as this crop will be a wonderful economic boon. In 1935 116 million pounds (58,000 tons) of hemp seed was used to make paints and varnishes yet it has been effectively prohibited in the United States since the 1950s.
Hemp was doomed by the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, which placed an extremely high tax and made it effectively impossible to grow industrial hemp. While congress expressly expected the continued production of industrial hemp, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics lumped industrial hemp with marijuana, as its successor the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), does to this day. While industrial hemp and marijuana may look somewhat alike to the untrained eye, an easily trained eye can easily distinguish the difference.
No marijuana grower would hide marijuana plants in a hemp field. Marijuana is grown widely spaced to maximize flowers and leaves; hemp is grown tightly-spaced to maximize stalk and is usually harvested before it goes to seed. It is also the first place where law enforcement officials would look. No one would want to smoke industrial hemp. Industrial hemp has a THC content of between 0.05 and 1%. Marijuana has a THC content of 3% to 20%. To receive a standard psychoactive dose would require a person to power-smoke 10-12 hemp cigarettes over a very short period of time. The large volume, high temperature of vapor, gas and smoke would be difficult for a person to withstand, much less enjoy.
The US State Department must certify each year that a foreign nation is cooperating in the war on drugs. The European Union subsidizes its farmers to grow industrial hemp. Those nations are not on this list, because the US State Department distinguishes the difference between hemp and marijuana. Over 30 industrialized democracies do distinguish hemp from marijuana. International treaties regarding marijuana make an exception for hemp, and trade alliances such as NAFTA allow for the importation of hemp. In fact NAFTA allow for the importation of hemp. All members of the Group of Seven Industrialized Nations permit hemp cultivation except one-the United States.