Hemp History Week raises awareness of the many benefits of industrial hemp, and this year’s theme is “Breaking Ground”.
Launched on June 5 by the Hemp Industries Association (HIA) and Vote Hemp, the event is largest national grassroots effort to restore this incredibly useful plant to its rightful place in U.S. farming.
The nation has a long history with the crop, going back to even before days of George Washington, who was a strong supporter of it. The plant first started being cultivated in the USA in the early 1600’s and a number of towns are even named after it.
Industrial hemp was effectively made illegal under the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act and then it was classified as marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act in 1970. Making the situation even more ridiculous was the fact hemp products were not made illegal – but had to be imported or manufactured from imported materials.
However, this decade has seen industrial hemp slowly making a comeback, with the pace of change accelerating in recent years as states snubbed federal law with their own legislation. In 2014, Kentucky, Vermont and Colorado became the first states to grow the crop in decades.
According to Vote Hemp, the US market saw an estimated 25% growth in 2016, reaching a total market value of USD $688 million.
So far, 33 U.S states have legalized industrial hemp farming, but in many of those states numerous restrictions are in place that are holding back the industry. Some of the challenges and threats include farmers being unable to obtain crop insurance and financing, source suitable hemp seed, a lack of processing infrastructure and interstate differences in law that hinder trade.
Passage of the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, which is still yet to be introduced to Congress, could remove the barriers and see the US again a world leader in cultivation of the crop and manufacturer of related products. It’s hoped this week will generate momentum for industrial hemp advocacy throughout the nation and apply pressure to lawmakers to remove the plant from the Controlled Substances Act.
Now in its eighth year, Hemp History Week 2017 runs until June 11.