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Hemp Growing Was Once the Law in the US

Updated on November 26, 2011

Hemp Growing Was Once Required By Law in the US

Before you start growing your own hemp plants it is worthwhile to read up on the history of hemp growing in the US. At one time it was legal. Not only was it legal, the law required the growing of it.

According to the book Healthy Oils, hemp is another word for the plant Cannabis sativa L. Marijuana comes from this same plant genus - as does cauliflower and broccoli. However, the strains used in consumer and industrial products contain only a negligible amount of the intoxicating substance delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. Thus industrial grade hemp is not marijuana. Yet, since the 1950’s the growing of hemp has been effectively prohibited.

But this has not always been the case. Going back to 1619 America’s first marijuana law was enacted at Jamestown Colony, VA. All farmers were ordered to grow Indian hemp seed. Mandatory cultivation laws were enacted in MA in 1631, in CT in 1632, and in the Chesapeake colonies in the 1700’s.

Cannabis hemp was even used as legal tender in most of the Americas from 1631 until the early 1800’s. The reason for making it legal tender was to encourage farmers to grow more. You could then pay your taxes with cannabis hemp throughout America for over 200 years. If you did not grow hemp during periods of shortages, you could be jailed.

In fact George Washington and Thomas Jefferson used enslaved African labor to grow this crop on their plantations.

Hemp has been grown for over 12,000 years for textiles, fiber, and food. There are established hemp growers in China, Romania, Hungary, and France. It is also now grown in Australia, Canada, Britain and Germany where for decades there had been none. The US has an experimental crop being grown in Hawaii under a government license.

Hemp is beginning to make a comeback in the US. Fashion designers and mass producers use it. It is also added to personal care products such as soap, shampoo and skin care products. Hemp seed oil naturally replenishes skin moisture and helps with the skin‘s elasticity. The omega-6 fatty acids are said to be helpful for sufferers of eczema, and psoriasis and other dry skin conditions.

Hemp seed oil is also used for cooking and is extremely high in polyunsaturated content (at least 80%). Because it is a very good source of omega fatty acids, adding it to your diet helps to substantially improve the skin’s natural elasticity and appearance.

In England, I found it easy to find all sorts of hemp seed products on the supermarket shelves.

Now cars made in France are being made from flax, hemp and other natural fibers - see link:


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    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Sian - thanks for writing! I think a lot of change is on the horizon. Whew!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      It was mandated in the 1600-1700s to grow hemp.

      " Going back to 1619 America’s first marijuana law was enacted at Jamestown Colony, VA. All farmers were ordered to grow Indian hemp seed. Mandatory cultivation laws were enacted in MA in 1631, in CT in 1632, and in the Chesapeake colonies in the 1700’s."

      In fact, if you didn't grow hemp you could be jailed. It was legal tender. You could pay your taxes with it. It's been the single most important plant to the world for over 12,000 years. Peace w/ all -

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      I think its just a matter of time Robert Nelson.

    • profile image

      Robert Nelson 

      7 years ago

      Actually, the inactive cannabidiol in commercial hemp can be extracted and isomerized to pure THC with great ease ... Get over it, control freaks and self-righteous non-dopers...

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      So true TiredofLies. We are nothing more than consumers - unfortunately 'uneducated' consumers. Fortunately, we have forums like this to share information that previously just wasn't getting out there. It's appalling what is put out there on the market - and billions of dollars later it is recalled (after lawsuits and possible deaths).

      This free market has for too long been turned into a market where corps are free to do whatever they want - with no real liability.

      Glad you wrote in. Thank you!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Hemp seed /oil is considered a "Perfect" food. You can sustain life on it alone. Yet our government keeps us from growing it, while they allow companies that make poisons in a test tube (aspertame, msg and the like) to poison us slowly with our own food.

      If you looked you could find dozens, hundreds, even thousands adversly affected by artificial sweetners and the like BUT there has never in 12,000 years been 1 case of a person reported to have died from the effects of hemp.

      So why is our government so against hemp???? Can you guess???? Its all about the almighty $$$$$$ ! Big names like the mentioned Dupont, the paper industry, the cotton industry, and many more lobby and cotribute to political campaigns to keep it illegal. They don't care about empty bell around the world they care about their pockets not being quite as full!!!!

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Hello blake4d. It seems hemp is gradually making its way back into our world. I just picked up hemp milk the other day! Then all the clothes on the market now!

      I suppose a hippie or dealer has done what they have always done - either smoke it or up, or sell it, or both. Make cloth - no way.

      I would love to meet a codetalker and learn some accurate history.

      Thanks for writing. I'll come visit you!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Okay, now please don't everyone throw me under the bus for what I am about to say. Admittedly until about ten years ago, I probably was at least responsible for consuming more 2 percent of Arizona's entire Marijuana production just in my own home, while going to college. That changed for me just pre-1999. Yet that is not the point.

      A strange wise Navajo man once told this meger philosophy he had concerning Cannabis, Thai Stick, Sensamilla, and all the baby sister strains of the most prolific weed to ever survive the ice age.

      To paraphrase "Many a dealer of pot, has presented to me the arugement that in the old days, of America, everyone used and grew it in order to male clothing, blankets, and even ship yard rope. But in all my 70 plus yeast on this planet so green, I have yet to meet a single Hippie or Dealer of pot who has succesfully made even a spool of thead out of hemp. And certainly not a shipyard worth of rope."

      Boy that gentleman sure killed my buzz for the rest of my days. And of course he it turned out he was a decorated code talker from WWII. I guess all this discussion leaves me thinking is ,"Wow!!!"

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Isn't it awful Katrina Ariel how we are so deprived of what is beneficial for all intents and purposes - but it is not only kept away from us but is made ILLEGAL - so we CANNOT benefit! But as you say there is growing awareness which will probably one day turn into us demanding it! Thanks for commenting!

    • Katrina Ariel profile image

      Katrina Ariel 

      10 years ago from The Highlands of British Columbia, Canada

      Hemp is one of the most useful plants in the world, and it's simply criminal that it's still illegal to grow. This hub is a great addition to the growing awareness that will hopefully change this.

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Thank you pmccray - we've been lied to so often. I've pretty much listened to what bigbiz and the government has to say that is supposed to be good for me - then I do the opposite. It works!

      There is no reason why we should not be reaping the benefits of this natural product.

      Thanks for commenting!

    • pmccray profile image


      10 years ago from Utah

      What a waste of resources! I am opposed to the legalization drugs, but I've always felt that the propaganda used to illegalize the use of hemp in the US was the GREAT LIE. This is a great eye opening hub.

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      I agree with you Terri - money first - at any cost to the environment. Fortunately, we are beginning to open our eyes - just a little - and demand some change.

      I bookmarked your website. Thanks for writing!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Hemp has no beneficial thc that is associated with the marijuana high. It was originally push through congress and outlawed by DuPont who owned a lot of forest. They wanted paper manufactors to buy their trees instead of using hemp. Hemp can be grown extremely fast and makes a stronger cheaper paper product. It's always about money.

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Well, thanks for your comment Jody Heckenlively.

      There are so many benefits to hemp, food, clothes, household products. When I'm in England it is so easy to find food products on the supermarket shelf but not here, unfortunately. I think that will change soon.

      Glad to hear from you!

    • Jody Heckenlively profile image

      Jody Heckenlively 

      11 years ago

      Well let me be the first to comment! Hemp is an amazing food, as you state so clearly here. I often put "hemp hearts" in my smoothies or sprinkle them on my food. They are truly an excellent source of EFAs and protein.


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