Hemp for Victory and How it Impacted Hemp in the U.S.

By Ernest Hamilton, Parent Herald May 04, 11:35 am

Hemp has been a hot topic of discussion recently. It's important to highlight its many benefits and uses while attempting to justify its illegal status. Hemp has been confused as being the same as marijuana for decades. It was explained to the public, decades ago, as being just as dangerous. There was no distinguishing factor labeling the two as different as research wasn't sought to explore the plants. Yes, they're in the same plant species but are two different plants.

Hemp, typically, contains less than 1-percent THC by volume when dry. Most hemp tests at 0.03-percent THC. Below we'll take you through a topic in the industry that seems to be another hot topic - Hemp for Victory. We've included a link at the end of the article to the entire short film - it's just under 14 minutes in length.

What was Hemp for Victory?

The U.S. Government made the Hemp for Victory film in 1942 during World War II. Their purpose? To encourage farmers to grow hemp. In the footage, it explains the multiple uses for hemp and how to grow it. Hemp is a great source of industrial fibers. Much of it was imported at that time. The overseas farmers were running short on supply, so the government wanted it grown on American soil for use in American-made items.

There wasn't much talk about this film for a few decades because it just wasn't well known. Even the Library of Congress said the film didn't exist.

How did the film resurface? In 1989 Jack Herer, Carl Packard and Maria Farrow donated two recovered copies to the Library of Congress. Before that, a single copy was known - a ¾" broadcast copy that William Conde obtained in 1976. He got the copy from a Miami Herald reporter. William Conde gave the copy to Jack Herer at the 1984 Oregon Marijuana Initiative event.

There are two small parts of this short film that have been adapted into one, nearly 14-minute presentation.

Fun fact: Hemp was used on the Naval ship "Old Ironsides".

Impact of Hemp for Victory

In Britain, some colonies were instructed by law to grow hemp. Hemp was used for its fiber since it didn't decay with exposure to the elements very quickly. Hemp canvas, lines and rope were all used. George Washington encouraged farmers to grow hemp. Hemp was a form of currency at one point where citizens could pay their taxes with their crops.

Once it was encouraged of farmers to grow hemp and processing plants were built, hemp production increased. But, before an ample number of processing facilities could be built, World War II ended. Demand for hemp and its products decreased rapidly.

Farmers had fields full of hemp, but with the decreased demand - their contracts were cancelled. In 1958, the last major hemp crop in the country was harvested and processed - at least from the USDA's Hemp for Victory Campaign.

Although hemp could be used to make clothes, synthetic fibers came about; they were cheaper and became the choice in terms of cost to produce and end product cost.

Fibrous texture of hemp

Fun Fact: The initial drafts of the Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper.

The Battle to End Federal Prohibition of Hemp

Here we are a few decades later - fighting to end hemp prohibition. The Farm Bill of 2014 is essentially a "pilot program" for research purposes mostly. Ten states were included in the bill when it was written and more than 20 have adopted industrial hemp policies since then. While research is fine and dandy (and very much needed), hemp's true potential remains stunted by government regulations.

Hemp contains cannabinoids, which are good for the body in many respects. Scientists and cannabis-industry experts are still learning all of hemp's potential medicinal benefits. It's a non-psychoactive plant that many believe never should have been made illegal (right along with marijuana). By conducting studies with positive reports and continuing to show the federal government that hemp can't get anyone high - prohibition may end.

As the saying goes - history often repeats itself. In this case, we hope so. Hemp was barely reaching its partial potential when it was officially made illegal in 1970. Its uses were still being discovered. It has the potential to be a multi-billion dollar industry with several multi-million dollar sub-industries including biofuels, clothing, medicine and even the automotive industry.

The stigma surrounding hemp and marijuana is changing in the U.S. Lawmakers around the country are fighting to end prohibition of both plants. It's more likely to see prohibition of hemp end before prohibition of marijuana - at least with the nation's current administration.

Future of Hemp After 5-Year Pilot Program

No one's exactly sure what is going to happen to the country's current hemp industry after the 5-year pilot program ends. Lawmakers will need to gather to introduce legislation to either legalize hemp altogether, extend the program or create a new program with government-pleasing restrictions in place.

Hemp has a sustainable place in the world for centuries to come. Its health benefits have been known for thousands of years. It is a plant that continues to evolve and become more useful as product manufacturing evolves and the need for greener products increases.

Closing Thoughts

Hemp is an exciting plant. Just when you think you've learned everything you can about it, a new innovation comes to light. Hemp is an ingredient in quite a few health food products and organic snacks. It's in more places in our everyday lives than you may realize already. It's been used to make "hippy-style" jewelry for decades as it is great for making thin ropes to string larger ceramic/glass beads on. It braids well and is quite strong.

Hemp-based products have a tendency of lasting for a longer time than synthetic products. It's a naturally higher-quality option for multiple applications - especially for making strong ropes and natural paper products. Hemp may be getting more attention in the coming years as researchers discover more uses for this versatile plant.

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