Hemp, a variety of the cannabis plant, has been grown and used in the United States since colonial times. Its popularity has grown exponentially in recent years, with an estimated 1 in 7 adults currently using a hemp-based product to support their health and wellness. However, its legal status and use for medicinal purposes have varied throughout the years. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the history of hemp in the United States and its medicinal use in each time period.
Hemp during the Colonial Times
Hemp was an important crop in colonial America, with the first hemp crop being grown in Jamestown in 1611. It was used to make a variety of products, including rope, paper, and clothing. In addition, hemp was used medicinally for a range of ailments, from pain relief to constipation. Hemp seeds were also used as a food source, making oils, flours, and more.
Hemp during the Prohibition Era
In the early 20th century, there was a push to criminalize cannabis in all forms, including hemp. In 1937, the Marijuana Tax Act was passed, which placed a tax on all cannabis products, including hemp. This effectively made it too expensive to grow and sell hemp, and it was largely phased out as a crop in the United States. The medicinal use of hemp was also banned during this time.
Hemp during World War II
During World War II, the United States government encouraged farmers to grow hemp as part of the war effort. The crop was needed to make ropes and other materials for the military. The government even produced a film called “Hemp for Victory” to promote the growing of hemp. During this time, hemp was legal and widely grown in the United States. Medicinal use of hemp was not widespread during this period.
The Controlled Substances Act
In 1970, the Controlled Substances Act was passed, which classified cannabis, including hemp, as a Schedule I drug. This meant that it was considered to have no medical use and a high potential for abuse. As a result, hemp was effectively banned in the United States, and it became illegal to grow or sell.
The Farm Bill of 2014
In 2014, the United States Congress passed the Farm Bill, which included a provision allowing states to establish pilot programs for hemp cultivation for research purposes. This allowed certain states to start growing hemp again, but it was still considered illegal at the federal level. There was renewed interest in the medicinal use of hemp during this time, particularly for the treatment of epilepsy.
The Farm Bill of 2018
In 2018, the United States Congress passed another Farm Bill, which removed hemp from the list of controlled substances. This effectively made it legal to grow and sell hemp in the United States, as long as it contains no more than 0.3% THC, the psychoactive compound found in cannabis. This has led to a resurgence in the hemp industry in the United States, with farmers growing hemp for a variety of products, including food, textiles, and medicinal as well as recreational products. The legalization of hemp has also opened up new opportunities for its use as a medicine.
Today, hemp is used medicinally for a variety of ailments, including chronic pain, anxiety, and epilepsy. CBD, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in hemp, has been particularly popular for its potential therapeutic benefits. While research on the medicinal use of hemp is still ongoing, there is growing evidence to support its use for a wide range of conditions, including seizures and inflammatory illnesses.
The history of hemp in the United States is a story of fluctuating laws and regulations, as well as changing attitudes towards its medicinal use. While hemp was once widely used for medicinal purposes in colonial America, its use was largely banned during the 20th century. The recent legalization of hemp has opened up new opportunities for its use as a medicine, and there is growing interest in the potential therapeutic benefits and industrial uses. As time goes on, the versatile plant may be able to be used to replace an array of resources and support the health of many individuals.