Hemp has been a controversial topic for decades, and its legal status has been a source of confusion for many. In short, hemp was declared illegal because it was guilty by association, the victim of a war against its identical twin. The War on Drugs has had a lasting impact on hemp production, and the federal ban on marijuana continues to this day. Hemp was once a widely used crop, with farmers in the Philippines growing large quantities of it with the help of government subsidies.
However, corporate interests such as Hearst and William DuPont had a vested interest in using wood to produce paper, and they saw hemp as a threat. This led to the passage of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, which effectively banned industrial hemp production. The CSA classified marijuana as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, meaning that it has no medical purpose and is very likely to be abused. This classification also applied to hemp, even though it does not contain enough THC to produce any psychoactive effects.
This ban on hemp can be seen in the language of the CSA, which makes no distinction between hemp and marijuana. The Hemp Industries Association has also named this law as the beginning of the ban on hemp, as it made it difficult for farmers to produce hemp. The Farm Bill of 2014 allowed for the cultivation of hemp in general, not just pilot programs to study market interest in hemp-derived products. It also guarantees that any cannabinoid derived from hemp will be legal if it is produced in accordance with federal regulations and state laws.
Although hemp offered enormous economic value, there was nothing that could be done to overturn the 1937 ruling. The Farm Bill provides some hope for those who wish to see hemp production become more widespread, as it provides shared state and federal regulatory power over the cultivation and production of hemp. In 1942, the US government released a film called Hemp for Victory which encouraged farmers to grow hemp during World War II. However, after the war ended, new industries such as cotton, synthetic plastics, liquor and wood were able to replace hemp.
This led to its eventual ban in 1970. The Farm Bill reforms are seen by many members of the advocacy community as a first step towards broader cannabis reform. While there are provisions that strongly regulate hemp, and there is concern among law enforcement that cannabis plants used to obtain marijuana are mixed with hemp plants, this legislation makes hemp a dominant crop.