Industrial Hemp History

History of Industrial Hemp

History of Industrial Hemp

A New Industry...but not really

Did you know the hemp plant was a vital crop to the world, dating back 10,000 years?

Due to the passing of the Farm Bill in 2014, the hemp crop has gained immense popularity. However, hemp has actually played a vital role in our history.

The plant was used for a variety of staples in early civilization, such as food, fiber, clothing, sailcloth, rope and oil. Hemp flowers and seeds were widely used for medical purposes from 2700 BC to around 1400 AD.

spinning industrial hemp fiber

During the colonization of North America in the 1600’s, hemp was planted by the first settlers. In some states it was illegal not to grow hemp. Subsidies were granted in many states during the 1700’s to encourage hemp production for canvas and cordage. 

Hemp was a staple in our agricultural history, due to its strength and versatility. Well-known historical figures such as George Washington, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson all grew or processed hemp. Hemp was accepted currency for paying taxes and other bills for about 200 years, during the colonial days.

So, what happened?

After the rise in the production of cotton, many large companies started to create campaigns to damage the public’s view of the hemp plant to increase paper and cotton sales. 

The Marihuana Tax Act in 1937 made all uses of the cannabis extremely difficult through excise tax and rules. Growers, processors, sellers, physicians, veterinarians, and individuals had to register, pay a special tax, and keep detailed records.

Marihuana Tax Stamp 1942

Industrial hemp production decreased drastically, until World War II, when the need for hemp fiber rose. The Department of Agriculture released Hemp for Victory in 1942. Hemp growth and processing increased again, until the war ended. The abrupt decrease of demand left farmers with unsold harvests and debt from canceled contracts.

In 1970, the US government determined that industrial hemp was considered marijuana and therefore illegal as it stems from the same plant. 
Raw hemp was legal to import from some countries, but the zero-tolerance policy, halted the growth of hemp in the United States on a Federal level, until 2014.

The Farm Bill passed in 2014, allowed for hemp production on state-approved programs. Since then, hemp-derived products have entered the market in increasing numbers.

The new 2018 Farm Bill classified industrial hemp an agricultural commodity, legal to grow, and covered under federal crop insurance. The 2018 Farm Bill reclassified industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity, making it legal to grow and covered under crop insurance.

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As a Hemp Processor, FEN Biotech provides the link between farm and market for hemp-derived products.

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