Hemp in America
Sarah Parker

Recently, we have seen the debates in America whether or not to allow the growth of hemp. Earlier in history, the production of hemp was encouraged, and was a major part of the economy, so what exactly changed the minds of American leaders to ban this product?

What is Hemp?
Hemp is the name given for the Cannabis plant, and is grown for the purpose of using its strong fibers to make a variety of products. These include ropes, clothing, paper, etc. The wood-like fibers that grow in the stem were harvested to make such products.
Hemp is not only known for its sturdy fibers for durable products, but it is also known for its medicinal purposes. Hemp also contains a chemical that can be used for recreation, but was seen as a problem to others. It was very easy to access this chemical through the hemp plant because it was grown in large amounts in some areas. The chemical harnessed through the Cannabis plant was THC. This chemical would be the reason this plant was used in this way. This was one of the main reasons hemp became banned.
Text Box: Figure 1 displays the author harvesting hemp in the 1800shempphoto.JPGWhy it was generally banned?
Firstly, in American history, when European settlers started to settle in America, the growth of the Cannabis plant was encouraged. It was used in the production of many home-made products in America, and was even included in many medicines sold over-the-counter.  However, after the Mexican Revolution of 1910 and many immigrants came to the United States, they settled here and revealed the recreational chemical in the Cannabis plant to Americans. The use of marijuana became associated with these immigrants. Antidrug campaigners started to blame terrible crimes on marijuana users and the Mexican immigrants.
Secondly, once the great depression hit in the 1930s, many Americans lost their jobs, and some of the blame fell on these immigrants. Therefore, since the drug was associated with them, many American resented it along with the Mexican immigrants.  Americans began to pin violence and crime with the use of marijuana. They considered Mexicans inferior, and therefore banned the use of marijuana in 29 states, as to not allow such inferiority in their realm.
Text Box: Figure 2 displays how the strict government policies forced farmers to justify they’re cropshttp://www.marijuana.com/news/wp-content/gallery/industrial-hemp/hemp-farmers.jpgFrom this point in time, the people of America fought harder and harder to get rid of marijuana and set up strict laws against it. The general public developed a fear of marijuana, because its association with crime and violence. As you can see, it was mostly a progression of social issues with how closely related industrial hemp and marijuana are that drove leaders to ban the plant as a whole from being produced.

Hemp production in KY
In the mid 1800s, Kentucky was the leader in hemp production, however this declined after the civil war. After this, industrial hemp and marijuana got confused. The Controlled Substance act categorized industrial hemp and marijuana as Schedule I drugs because both contained THC. Now, to grow hemp, one needed to register for a license to grow it, and then be taxed. Hemp at this point was now under strict regulation of the federal government.
Also, to produce hemp in a certain state, that specific state had to apply for a DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) permit before anyone was permitted to grow hemp. The only state in America to receive one was the Hawaii. Even though they were permitted to grow hemp, there were many restrictions and high security.
We see Kentucky try to introduce bills that would call for not considering industrial hemp and marijuana the same type of substance: a Schedule I drug. Some of the people of Kentucky wanted to be able to grow industrial hemp, and called for research projects to be established to discover why the government is so strict about industrial hemp. The Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission was even established to monitor the program and to make recommendations to the governor.

The state of Kentucky and many neighboring states have made the production of hemp illegal. Firstly, the Mexican immigrants enlightened Americans on how to use hemp for other purposes than its fibers and medicinal qualities. The people of America at this time were already prejudiced towards other races, and just associated the immigrants as well as the plant with the violence and crimes in America.
Also, hemp was eventually made illegal because this new fear of marijuana. Since it was associated with crime, it was viewed more negatively by the general public. Anti-drug leagues convinced many that marijuana was dangerous and harmful. 
Thirdly, the production of hemp was banned because the plant for producing industrial hemp and the plant for producing marijuana are so similar that people started to consider the two to be basically the same thing.
Another reason hemp became illegal was through the two similar yet very different plants being categorized as the same thing (Schedule I), government restrictions increased greatly.
And lastly, since there were already such high restrictions on the growth of hemp, it was almost impossible to be able to grow it. The legislature of KY decided that they might as well make it illegal to avoid trouble with the federal government. These are the main reasons hemp was made illegal in the US and states like Kentucky.