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Cannabis sativa has gotten a bad reputation in America. Several varieties of this plant have leaves that are high in THC, a psychoactive drug. However, cannabis is a remarkably versatile plant that also yields hemp, which is an excellent, sustainable source of fiber, and cannabidiol, which has been hailed for its health benefits. C. sativa is a historically important crop that could solve many economic and health problems in America. Let’s take a look at the history of CBD.
In colonial times, hemp was such a crucial crop that the Crown mandated it to be grown in the colonies. The Puritans had brought hemp with them to cultivate, and the sails and ropes of the Mayflower were made of hemp fiber. In fact, hemp was immensely important to ships, because it was a source of weather-resistant, strong fiber. Britain needed massive amounts of hemp for their enormous fleet — and the colonies were an important source of this crop.
The American RevolutionEven without British influence, hemp played a major role in the emerging American economy. Most fiber, paper, and rope in circulation were made from hemp. The founding fathers included hemp among their crops, and Thomas Jefferson cultivated better varieties of C. sativa and invented a special device to process the fiber. Even the Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper.
The New RepublicBy the time America had claimed independence from Britain, hemp farmers had built a strong presence in the Midwest. Over the following century, new technology allowed hemp to be more efficiently processed. Still, with the decline of British influence and the emergence of steam-powered ships, the demand for hemp was greatly reduced. However, the Midwestern farmers continued to produce hemp, with Kentucky relying on it as a major industry. As the nation entered World War I, demand for hemp fiber rose again.
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The Marijuana ActUnfortunately, C. sativa production was crippled by a political effort to suppress drug use. Although THC consumption had been widespread throughout human history, the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 attempted to reduce the use of drugs among American citizens. The act heavily taxed the sale of cannabis, and all varieties were rolled into the law, including low-THC strains of C. sativa such as those that produced hemp. This effectively disincentivized farmers from growing hemp, which was quickly becoming replaced by synthetic fibers such as nylon. (Some historians believe the anti-drug act was a ruse to boost the sales of these new fibers.)
The Return of HempWhen wartime struck again, the government had to counteract the damage done by the Marijuana Act. They encouraged American farmers to produce hemp with the “Hemp for Victory” campaign, through which they distributed 400,000 pounds of seeds. A private enterprise, War Hemp Industries, subsidized production costs, and the Midwest produced an impressive 42,000 tons of hemp fiber every year of the War.
The Modern Era
Unfortunately for hemp farmers, the demand for hemp plummeted after the war, and in 1970, as part of another war on drugs, the federal government passed the Controlled Substances Act. All varieties of C. sativa were heavily regulated. It wasn’t until the 2018 Farm Bill amendment that hemp was deliberately excluded from these regulations. Now, farmers can legally grow, process, and sell hemp, including its byproduct, CBD.
The Rise of CBD
Research on cannabidiol’s effects began in the mid-20th century, but it wasn’t until 1964 that scientists successfully isolated and described CBD. This was an important first step toward breaking hemp and cannabidiol free from oppressive C. Sativa regulations. Over the next few decades, scientists discovered that CBD interacted with the body’s natural endocannabinoid system and began looking at CBD for its therapeutic uses. In 2014, President Barack Obama signed the original Farm Bill, which expanded research institutions’ ability to grow and study hemp and set the standard for hemp as a variety containing no more than 0.3 percent THC.
CBD and Hemp Today
Now, CBD and hemp products are increasingly dominating the health, cosmetic, and textile markets. C. sativa is becoming an important crop to the global economy, and with the guidance of the Farm Bill, a new standard has been set for hemp and CBD production. Hemp is one of the original American crops — and now, it’s poised to once again be a sustainable part of the American economy. Find the right way for you to consume CBD, visit our CBD Shop.