Copyrighted Image by Britney Broten
Until the late 1800s, almost all of our cloth and virtually all of our paper was made from hemp. In 1937, the Marijuana Tax Act dealt a fatal blow to the promising hemp industry. The Act established a tax on manufacturers and distributors that ended all hemp production in the United States by making commerce in hemp prohibitively expensive. After restrictions were eased briefly during World War II, the hemp industry declined as the federal government came to treat industrial hemp crops as marijuana crops.
Industrial hemp is grown as a profitable fiber crop in many countries. The crops have been subsidized in the European Community since before 1988. In 1993, England began to produce hemp for fiber. In 1994 Canada harvested its first crop of industrial hemp after more than 50 years of prohibition. The re-emerging global hemp industry is growing steadily, and the United States is going to be a part of it.
Currently, things are looking up for industrial hemp in the United States. Since the new Farm Bill’s passage, 25 states have considered industrial hemp legislation in 2014. Thirteen states – California, Colorado, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, and West Virginia – now allow hemp cultivation for research and/or commercial purposes. American consumers purchase over $450 million in hemp products annually. This demonstrates the high demand for hemp cultivators, and the low probability of the supply outreaching the demand. The Colorado Department of Agriculture is aiming to have Colorado as the top producer in the country.