What is Hemp?
Hemp (also known as industrial hemp) refers to the non-psychoactive (less than 0.3% THC) varieties of Cannabis sativa L. Hemp and cannabis both come from the same cannabis species, but are genetically distinct and are further distinguished by their chemical makeup, use and cultivation methods.
Recognised as one of the fastest growing plants on the planet, it was also one of the first plants that could be spun into fibers as far back as 10,000 years ago, while the understanding of the benefits of hemp oil dates back even further to prehistoric times. This knowledge has helped lead us to the scientific extraction and production of the Endoca CBD oil that we offer today.
Indeed, hemp can actually be used to create a wide variety of products like papers, textiles, clothing, food, animal feed, insulation, medicines, biofuel, biodegradable plastics, paint, and much more. So why, you then may ask, was hemp banned in the United States in the first place, if it is such a versatile and diverse plant?
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For the first 162 years of America's existence, hemp was not only legal, but actually a very successful and widely used plant within the US, but in the 1930’s, both attitudes and laws quickly began to change. Both the U.S. government and mainstream media began a campaign of anti-hemp propaganda that was specifically designed to change the mindset of the wider general public in preparation for its eventual prohibition.
They began their campaign of propaganda by spreading scurrilous lies and fabrications about hemp, while a change in its name to "marijuana" (Mexican slang for hemp) further enabled the demonisation of a plant that had until that point in history been entirely legal in the US, with even one of our founding fathers, George Washington, growing it on his own plantation.
Prior to the 1930’s, the word marijuana wasn't part of US vocabulary. Most Americans at the time knew that hemp was a common, useful and harmless crop, so it was extremely unlikely that anyone would have believed hemp to be dangerous, or indeed would they have bought into the idea of hemp causing madness or violent urges as depicted in the movie, Reefer Madness.
There is some evidence to suggest that it was concluded that a change in the name would help to sell the idea that hemp was in fact dangerous to the public so the words marijuana and reefer were introduced as replacements for the word hemp as public support for it’s prohibition would be considered much easier to garner.
Very few people actually realized that cannabis and hemp came from the same plant species, and even fewer people realised that cannabis prohibition would, as a consequence, destroy the hemp industry.
Attitudes within the media began to change in the 1930’s as the propaganda machine went into overdrive with headlines like "Marijuana: The assassin of Youth" and "Marijuana: The devil's weed with roots in hell” beginning to appear with a concerted effort to stigmatise and discredit hemp becoming more and more prevalent in both the written and spoken media form.
By 1936, with the government at loggerheads on whether to keep or ban the plant, the liquor industry saw an opportunity to further establish their position as market leader in the world of stimulants and decided to entirely fund the now infamous movie, Reefer Madness. This absurdly laughable movie/documentary was released as an “educational tool”, originally titled Tell your Children and was produced with the intention of essentially brainwashing the US public into demonising hemp/cannabis.
Ultimately, their desire to present hemp as a dangerous substance to the US public had succeeded, with many of the absurdities portrayed in that movie still propagated in the opinions of those still opposed to legalization in the US today. You only need to look at this quote from the then head of the FBN (Federal Bureau of Narcotics - now the D.E.A) to understand the falsehoods that were being spread in order to support the “hemp is bad” narrative.
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There is plenty of evidence that supports the theory that cannabis was banned to destroy the hemp industry and this article, written on the eve of cannabis prohibition, supported the claim that hemp was on the verge of becoming a super crop with the potential to dominate a variety of industries for years to come.
Indeed, shortly before cannabis was prohibited, new technologies were being developed that made hemp a potential competitor and rival with the newly-founded synthetic fiber and plastics industries of the era while hemp's potential for producing paper also posed a threat to the timber industry (at that time, America’s new billion-dollar crop).
Certainly there is plenty of evidence that suggests that many commercial interests of the time simply had too much to lose from the competition provided by hemp and used their strong influence in US politics to lobby for cannabis/hemp prohibition as well as helping to propagate the Reefer Madness hysteria that became so prevalent in the 1930’s.
After Alcohol Prohibition ended in 1933, The FBN's director, Harry J. Anslinger became a leading advocate of Cannabis Prohibition and in 1937, he testified before Congress in favor of it’s banning. Anslinger was the perfect gunslinger for the liquor industry, as evidenced in his highly offensive and distasteful testimony to congress in 1936:
While such opinions would be thrown out of court in this day and age, it remains the fact that this testimony was crucial in the prohibition of cannabis, a prohibition that still exists in half of the US today. This campaign of lies and misinformation ultimately led to the prohibition of Cannabis, which has left many to conclude that there was indeed a hidden agenda behind its eventual banning and it is quite easy with hindsight to see why. It is now quite apparent that that prohibition of Cannabis was rooted in prejudice, racism and ignorance, and sadly these kinds of falsehoods and stigmas still remain deeply embedded in our society today.
Unfortunately, it remains evident that even in 2018, there are still so many people are unaware of the history and politics behind this incredible plant and the reasons behind its prohibition. The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 effectively made possession or transfer of marijuana illegal throughout the United States under federal law, excluding medical and industrial uses, through imposition of an excise tax on all sales of hemp - and Act that still affects us today.
Changing the Future for the Better
Going forward, the future for hemp is significantly brighter, especially in the U.S with former President Barack Obama signing the Farm Bill, also known as the Agricultural Act of 2014, in February of that year. Section 7606 of the statute, titled “Legitimacy of Industrial Hemp Research,” gave authorization to state departments of agriculture and institutions of higher learning in states that have legalized hemp cultivation to grow the crop for research and pilot programs.
And as recently as December of 2017, The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared that CBD should not now be classified as a scheduled drug meaning that it should not be classified as a substance that has a high potential for abuse or is illegal to manufacture or distribute. Following both an extensive deliberation and investigation, the WHO has concluded that cannabidiol (CBD) is a useful treatment for epilepsy and palliative care, and does not carry any addictive risks.
While both developments are of course significant, there is still so much more than needs to be done in the quest to share the knowledge we have gained in our understanding of hemp and CBD with the wider public. Big business and their lobbyists still determine much of the science that we read in the mainstream media today. However it is now clear that there is a growing demand from the public that we, as a society, be given the chance to benefit from CBD and other hemp-related products.
Slowly but surely, attitudes, laws and the understanding of hemp and what it can bring our society are beginning to change, with more and more people now aware of the huge benefits that this incredible plant can potentially offer to both people and the planet with which we share.