For centuries, hemp has been cultivated in North America for its fibers used in the manufacture of ropes and textiles. Unfortunately, it was declared illegal in the United States due to its association with marijuana, which is also made from the same plant species (Cannabis sativa). This was a result of the War on Drugs, which began in the 1970s and lasted until the 1990s. A hundred years ago, the federal government wasn't too concerned about marijuana, which is also known as cannabis sativa L.
It was also referred to as hemp, Mary Jane, Mary Warner and a variety of other terms. Most Americans were unaware of its presence, let alone its exploitation as a drug. However, by the 1930s, several state governments and other countries had already banned it. The government hesitated to do so in the US due to the therapeutic uses of cannabis being explored and the US industry benefiting from the commercial applications of hemp fiber, seeds and oil.
Hemp could only be cultivated if one was lucky enough to receive special tax stamps from the government. This made it practically impossible to cultivate hemp until the 2000s. The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 was passed to make it illegal to import or export marijuana without a seal. This was followed by the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 which declared cannabis of any kind illegal.
As a result, US farmers lost access to hemp produced in the Philippines and were unable to grow large quantities of hemp with government subsidies. Hemp was an unfortunate victim of the War on Drugs and continues to be prohibited under federal law. Despite this, advances are being made through federal hemp policy and state marijuana laws.