Hemp: An American Tradition
The term "hemp" refers to a variety of Cannabis Sativa that contains no THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. The crop has over 20,000 industrial uses including an amazing unique flavor additive to wine.
America has a unique history with hemp. Original colonies such as Virginia, were required to grow hemp for export to Britain to be as textile for their navy. Many prominent farmers like Thomas Jefferson and George Washington were hemp cultivators and the Declaration of Independence was drafted on hemp paper. Many Americans were even able to pay their taxes with hemp. During both World Wars, the U.S. Government activley encouraged civilians to grow hemp to support production of materials needed for the war effort. An industrial staple, uses for hemp continued to be created.
Proceding World War II, the U.S. Government began to regulate hemp the same as marijuana, widely believed to reduce competition for a new product developed by DuPont called nylon. This unfortunate decision resulted in the near destruction of the hemp industry in America. Effects of regulations made during this time period continue to severely restrict U.S. hemp businesses and farmers.
The passage of the 2014 Farm Bill with an included provision allowing states to set up their own hemp programs and markets resulted in an industry explosion. Currently, 26 states including New York, have pilot programs to research, cultivate, and commercialize hemp. In 2017, 23,346 acres of hemp were planted across America, up from 9,770 acres in 2016. The American hemp industry has experienced tremendous growth, putting out products in categories such as nutraceuticals, foods, textiles, livestock feed, building materials, and bio-fuels, among others. It is an exciting time to be involved with hemp!