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The 2018 Farm Bill gave hemp the comeback it deserved.
The new bill established federal regulation of hemp and legalized it nationally for commercial cultivation, removing hemp and hemp seeds from the DEA schedule of Controlled Substances where it had been listed alongside marijuana.
The bill made hemp eligible for crop insurance and allowed for hemp to be moved across state lines. In short, it opened up the opportunity for hemp to be the strong agricultural product it was centuries ago.
This promising new bill has made hemp especially interesting to existing farmers and to those looking to get into cannabis or agricultural farming.
It’s a brand new industry with almost limitless possibilities for the future, yet also one that has lots of history and stories of both success and failure.
One thing is for sure, hemp is on the tip of everyone’s tongues and it’s quickly finding its place in the world of American agriculture.
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A Brief History of Hemp
For centuries hemp was successfully harvested for its fiber, seeds, and flowers. Hailed as a plant with endless possibilities, hemp fiber can produce textiles, rope, clothes, paper, plastic composites, building construction materials, animal bedding, food, drinks, and agricultural supplies.
Hemp seeds can produce a number of items, including food, edible oil, personal care products, and industrial fluids. Hemp seed is often used for essential oils, pesticides, livestock feed, bird seed, and amazingly as fuel for cars and for bioremediation of soil containing heavy metals.
Hemp is one of earliest plants to be cultivated in the world and was a popular crop in early American history. Seeds arrived with the Puritans for the purpose of planting to cultivate strong hemp crops to use as they built up their settlements and repaired ships.
Shortly thereafter, the British colonies in America were legally required to grow hemp as it was found to be particularly useful in maritime endeavours, largely because of its natural decay resistance and how easily it adapts to cultivation.
Even after the American Revolution, hemp continued to be an important part of daily life. Farmers felt it was their patriotic duty to grow hemp and were even allowed to pay their taxes with it.
George Washington advocated for hemp and praised its usefulness in making rope and fabric, and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp and eventually improved on hemp varieties.
Hemp was a flourishing crop in America, however between the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 and the popularity of synthetic fibers in the following years, hemp saw a dramatic decrease in popularity and the industry soon found itself in decline. In 1970 the Controlled Substances Act essentially ended the hemp industry in the United States by banning cannabis of any kind, including hemp.