The Resurgence of Growing Hemp for Industrial Use



Today, many people see industrial hemp as a niche industry, but it wasn’t always that way. In the Colonial era, hemp was a widely cultivated crop, and in some areas, farmers were breaking the law if they didn’t grow it. Hemp was often used as a textile, fiber and paper, and some early drafts of the Declaration of Independence were written on it.

Hemp Production Becomes More Difficult

However, by the 1950s, it was very difficult for hemp growers to profit. The passage of the Marijuana Tax Act in 1937 hadn’t helped — it required all such farmers to be licensed and pay taxes for the activity. But, the availability of cheap, industrial fibers is what crippled the hemp industry. 

Later, the U.S. government did not differentiate between hemp and marijuana growth, causing growers to deal with tight regulations that hampered or prevented their efforts to produce the crop. Recently, the U.S. Senate voted to legalize cultivating, processing and selling industrial hemp through legislation known as the Farm Bill.

Plus, some U.S. states are giving momentum to a rebirth of the practice of producing hemp for industrial uses.

New York Seeks to Become a National Leader

New York governor Andrew Cuomo hopes his state will become a place others look up to in the realm of industrial hemp production. In 2015, he gave the go-ahead for the Industrial Hemp Agricultural Research Pilot Program. It allowed a restricted number of educational institutions to grow and study hemp.

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