For centuries, hemp was cultivated in North America for its fibers used in the manufacture of ropes and textiles. However, it was declared illegal in the United States due to its association with marijuana, a victim of the War on Drugs. Despite advances made through federal hemp policy and state marijuana laws, federal marijuana prohibition continues. A hundred years ago, the federal government wasn't too concerned about marijuana, also known as Cannabis sativa L. Initially spelled marijuana, it was also known as hemp, Mary Jane, Mary Warner and a variety of other terms.
Most Americans seemed unaware of its presence, let alone its exploitation as a drug. By the 1930s, several state governments and other countries had banned the drug. The government hesitated to ban hemp due to its therapeutic uses and the U. S. industry's benefit from the commercial applications of hemp fiber, seeds and oil.
However, in 1937, hemp was declared illegal under the Marijuana Tax Act and formally declared illegal in 1970 under the Controlled Substances Act; this banned cannabis of any kind. After 1937, hemp could only be cultivated if one was lucky enough to receive special tax stamps from the government. Trapped in the spotlight of the War on Drugs, which lasted from the 1970s to the 1990s, and with successive government administrations that failed to distinguish between hemp and marijuana, hemp cultivation practically did not exist until the 2000s. Under section 10113 of the Farm Bill, state agriculture departments must consult with the governor and the state's chief law enforcement official to design a plan that must be submitted to the USDA Secretary. This plan must include procedures for testing THC levels in hemp plants. The unfortunate ban of hemp in the US has had a long-lasting effect on our society. It is important for us to understand why this ban was put into place so that we can work towards reversing it.