Hemp is a term referring to strains (or types) of the Cannabis sativa plant having less than 0.3% THC. Unlike Marijuana (the well known cousin to Hemp), these plants have no psychoactive or intoxicating effects, but do have many other benefits and uses.
The Hemp plant is the earliest known cultivated crop, with fabric samples dating back to 8000 BC. Civilizations were readily using Cannabis for medicine, food, textiles, and building materials until within the last century.
So how did a plant that has thousands of uses and benefits to our health, the economy, and the Earth take on the negative stigma that it has to this day? Government intervention to support private interests along with individual propaganda efforts were more than enough to fuel its demise.
The stigma over Hemp began with the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. It applied a high tax to anyone planting Cannabis, making it unfeasible for most farmers to cultivate. The government continued to see the value of the plant though and even supported the planting of over a million acres as part of the 'Hemp for Victory' campaign during WWII. After the war, these crops were shut down, and their existence silenced.
Then, the early 1940's film Reefer Madness used exploitation tactics to portray Cannabis as a psychosis inducing substance. It was played in theaters all around the world and while no evidence existed to confirm the claims it made, the film was accepted as factual news.
Households all over the World began to view all forms of Cannabis in a negative light, and passed this down to the next generation, the Baby Boomers. This was the age of peace and love, but many viewed the discontent and rebellion of the youth as a direct result of Marijuana consumption. The negative stigma of Cannabis prevailed as the benefits of the non intoxicating Hemp plant had quietly been swept under the rug.
The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 made no distinction between Hemp and Marijuana, so all Cannabis was considered a Schedule 1 drug. This prohibition began a war with not only a valuable medicinal resource, but also with a beneficial and harmless plant with thousands of uses.
Few countries continued to grow Hemp, knowing its true value and quietly supporting the underground need for durable and beneficial products around the World. But the US continued its 'War'. The negative stigma created by wealthy corporations and the media 80+ years ago controlled the opinions and actions of many, and continues to do so today.
Then in 2018, the Hemp Farm Bill removed Cannabis with THC of <0.3% from the Controlled Substances Act, and returned Hemp to its rightful place as an agricultural commodity, where it should have been all along.
So what does the future hold for Hemp? The US is playing catch up for now, as we have lost 80 years of research and product development. But Hemp truly is
The Wonder Crop! The plant will be used for everything from food to bioplastics and building materials to textiles. The possibilities are literally endless for this once misunderstood and wrongly stereotyped little plant.