Why did hemp disappear?
Hemp is an ancient plant that has been cultivated for thousands of years. Up until the 1920s hemp was a commodity of significant economic and social value. Hemp was the desired fibre to manufacture clothing, rope, canvas and paper – 80% of all textiles were made with hemp. Similarly, hemp paper was the main medium for the spreading of literary, philosophical and scientific texts of these early times.
Unfortunately, during the 1930s the hemp industry was intentionally set upon and destroyed due to political and industrial agendas. A racially motivated 'war on drugs' ensued as Harry Anslinger headed the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, incessantly playing on racial fear and prejudice; spreading racist, alarmist rhetoric correlating drugs and minorities, namely African Americans and Latinos/Hispanics. Simultaneously, support and propaganda from powerful companies with vested interests in new petroleum-based synthetic textiles, powerful newspaper and lumber barons, and the pharmaceutical industry saw hemp as a threat to business.
In 1937, under the influence of lobbying, the US government prohibited cannabis and industrial hemp production with the passing of the "Marihuana Tax Act" which effectively banned its use and sale. By making no distinction between industrial hemp and social-use cannabis, discrediting the plant and its uses, hemp subsequently disappeared from society, becoming a forgotten crop.
It is pleasing to see that despite all of the efforts to destroy the hemp and cannabis industry, the war on drugs has clearly failed and the public is embracing a full restoration of the hemp and cannabis industry.