Hemp: America’s Plant
Growing and using hemp products isn’t anything new, it’s not a fad and it isn’t something that will likely go away over time. In fact, hemp is just finally making a comeback after years of discrimination! Growing hemp in America is actually one of the most American things you can do.
It’s common knowledge that the Declaration of Independence was written on paper made from hemp but did you know that the first American flag (the one Betsy Ross made), was made of hemp as well? In his diary, George Washington said, “Hemp is greatly viable for winning the war and sustaining a future fantastic for America.” From the founding of the U.S. until the end of WWII, hemp played a prominent role in American industry.
The young country relied on the strength and rot resistance of hemp sails and riggings for warships and merchant ships during the Revolutionary War. Hemp was also often used to make many household goods including paper, clothing, sacks, and ticking for mattresses.
Hemp was a #1 crop in those days because of it’s ability to bring life back to soil and survive all but the most frigid climates. Thanks to it’s ability to provide so well the original settlers were able to rely significantly less on British imports than they otherwise would have without it. George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams all spoke highly of the benefits of hemp and urged farmers to grow it as an act of patriotism.
Hemp farms spread from the east coast throughout the U.S. from the Revolutionary War until WWII. By 1850 there were 8,327 hemp “plantations” (farms that had at least 2,000 acres) in the U.S. according to the U.S. Census of that year. There were tens of thousands of small scale farms. Though demand for hemp briefly waned in the early 1900s as steamboats replaced sailing ships, demand again picked back up when the U.S. entered WWI and new uses for hemp were found. Hemp was used to make uniforms, shoes, baggage, parachute webbing, and many more goods to support the military.
In 1938, an article was published in Popular Mechanics Magazine that called hemp “New Billion Dollar Crop”. They wrote that hemp could be used to manufacture more than 25,000 various products “from cellophane to dynamite.” Henry Ford then used hemp to manufacture a new form of plastic in 1941 and it was reported to be 2,000 times stronger than steel and 1,000 pounds lighter. He demonstrated the strength of his revolutionary hemp-based plastic on film. In the film, he hit the fender of his prototype car made from hemp-plastic repeatedly with an axe. Not a single dent was left in the car’s body.
Unfortunately due to the Marijuana Tax Act being passed in 1937 hemp farmers were now being penalized for growing hemp making it harder and harder to produce. There was confusion about the difference between marijuana and hemp which led the federal government to pass the act which put a tax on all cannabis farming whether farmers were growing either hemp or marijuana. During WWII, this tax was temporarily waved.
In 1942 the Japanese cut off supplies of hemp from Manila which forced the U.S. government to distribute 400,000 pounds of hemp seeds to American farmers in Kentucky and Wisconsin. Due to the need for products from 1942-1945, any farmer who would grow hemp for the government ensured that he and his sons would be exempt from military service. throughout the war, farmers were able to annually produce 42,000 tons of hemp fiber to help support the military in their war efforts.
However, despite all of the incredible things the hemp industry did during the war, fear over the difference between marijuana and hemp along with continued harassment from law enforcement and the rising popularity of newer synthetic materials a rapid post-WWII decline in hemp farming occurred. In 1958 the final hemp crop was grown in Wisconsin before the Controlled Substance Act completely outlawed growing hemp in 1970.
Even though growing hemp is completely illegal in most states, the hemp industry is beginning to thrive again in the U.S. Ford Motor Company, Nike, Calvin Klein, and Nutiva are just a few of the big manufacturers who import hemp from other countries to use in their products. We are very happy to be able to grow hemp in our state and provide you with quality, organic, American grown hemp products. Our hope is that hemp popularity continues to grow within the United States!
COOKING WITH HEMP
HEMP EXTRACT PRODUCTS
Grown, processed, and packaged in Colorado, Aja Hemp controls the process from start to finish. We take pride in the quality and consistency of our products.