Before we get started, I would like to share my inspiration for this article: YOU. Many readers were very hemp curious after my last article, “5 Reasons Hemp Should Be In Your Kitchen.” I wanted to answer the questions about why industrial hemp is illegal in the United States. Like you, I share the same curiosity about this fascinating source of food. So much so, that I started Happy Hemp. Without further ado, let’s dive in.
Hemp. Makes. Cents.
I am a jump in head first and ask questions later type of girl. When I decide I am going to do something (and someone tells me I can’t) there is nothing that can stop me. I am 110% committed and that is that. I usually have no idea what I am getting myself into, but with a glass half full attitude I know I will figure it out. Such was the case when I started Happy Hemp. It is illegal to grow industrial hemp in the United States. I had to go to Canada to do everything. Yikes! Really?! But WHY? The bigger question in my mind was why is it illegal to grow, but perfectly legal to sell hemp in the US. I am far from a mathematician, but even I knew that just did not add up. So I started investigating and what I found was shocking.
Here some hemp history:
+1700‘s Early American farmers are required by law to grow hemp in Virginia and other colonies. Hemp has a root system of 2 to 3 feet that naturally plows the ground and restores nutrients into the soil. I actually learned that my great grandfather used to grow hemp!
+1776 The Declaration of Independence is drafted on hemp paper.
+1916 USDA Bulletin No. 404 shows that hemp produces four times more paper per acre than trees do.
+1938 Popular Mechanics article “New Billion Dollar Crop” explains that new developments in processing technology could use hemp to manufacture over 25,000 different products, “from cellophane to dynamite.”
+1942 Henry Ford builds an experimental car body made with hemp fiber, which is 10 times stronger than steel.
+ 1942-1946 American farmers harvest more than 150,000 acres of hemp through the USDA’s Hemp for Victory program.
+1957 The last year hemp is grown in the U.S. due to the government lumping industrial hemp in with schedule 1 drugs.
So what I am failing to see is the bad in the hemp plant. I guess the trouble started when someone had a lot of money to lose. William Randolph Hearst was the owner of newspapers and paper mills that printed paper. Hemp was a faster, smarter, more eco friendly way to produce paper thus creating competition. The propaganda campaign called “Reefer Madness” along with a handful of powerful friends in the government led to hemp becoming illegal. So what does that mean today? Well, if you are following the news it means A LOT. The food revolution is bringing hemp front and center not only in your neighborhood grocery store, but also in your legislature. Many states are exploring and or passing bills to grow industrial hemp for research.What’s even better is that the Agricultural Act of 2014 is further encouraging and supporting the hemp movement on a federal level.
Fingers crossed we will continue to move in this direction. There are so many amazing uses for hemp that it would do wonders for our environment and our economy. Luckily I am not the only one that realizes hemp makes cents. We have seen progress over the last few years and that makes me happy!