Hemp in American History
"Hemp was widely grown in the United States from the colonial period into the mid-1800s. Fine and coarse fabrics, twine, and paper from hemp were in common use. By the 1890s, labor-saving machinery for harvesting cotton made the latter more competitive as a source of fabric for clothing, and the demand for coarse natural fibers was met increasingly by imports. Industrial hemp was handled in the same way as any other farm commodity in that USDA compiled statistics and published crop reports33 and provided assistance to farmers promoting production and distribution.34 In the early 1900s, hemp continued to be grown, and USDA researchers continued to publish information related to hemp production and also reported on hemp’s potential for use in textiles and in paper manufacturing.35 Several hemp advocacy groups, including HIA and Vote Hemp, Inc., have compiled other historical information and have copies of original source documents.36
"Between 1914 and 1933, in an effort to stem the use of Cannabis flowers and leaves for their psychotropic effects, 33 states passed laws restricting legal production to medicinal and industrial purposes only.37 The 1937 Marihuana Tax Act defined hemp as a narcotic drug, requiring that farmers growing hemp hold a federal registration and special tax stamp, effectively limiting further production expansion.
"In 1943, U.S. hemp production reached more than 150 million pounds (140.7 million pounds hemp fiber; 10.7 million pound hemp seed) on 146,200 harvested acres. This compared to prewar production levels of about 1 million pounds. After reaching a peak in 1943, production started to decline. By 1948, production had dropped back to 3 million pounds on 2,800 harvested acres, with no recorded production after the late 1950s.38"
Johnson, Renée, "Hemp As An Agricultural Commodity," Congressional Research Service (Washington, DC: Library of Congress, March 10, 2017), pp. 11-12.