Hemp is making a comeback with a vengeance, and this year, we truly have much to celebrate during Hemp History Week, which is being held from June 4-10, 2018.
After many years of farmers being unable to cultivate hemp because of laws restricting the proliferation of the plant, we are experiencing the tides of change. Now, about three dozen US states may grow hemp thanks varying degrees of legislative protection, and it is exciting to celebrate this year’s achievements.
Historically in America, hemp was a mainstay for farmers. When George Washington was the father of our country, he encouraged farmers to grow hemp. Washington himself grew hemp at Mount Vernon. In pre-Revolutionary times to World War II, hemp products were an integral part of the manufacturing industry. The famous warship Old Ironsides was constructed with 120,000 pounds of hemp from its rigging to its sails. The material proved to be sustainable, strong, and the salty seas did not erode the hemp-made finishings of the historic battleship.
But in 1937, The Marijuana Tax Act was enacted and hemp became a stepchild of that movement. This law was directed to regulate the cannabis with high levels of THC and it soon snowballed to apply to all hemp production overseen by the Department of Revenue.
At the end of WWII, some farmers attempted to rally that hemp should be utilized for the war efforts, and hemp was allowed to be grown by select farmers. But the war came to the end and the country no longer felt the need for hemp. The evolution of synthetic fibers became more popular, and demand for hemp never recovered.
Now, hemp development is again on the rise. Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, Hawaii, Nevada, Utah, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, North Dakota, Minnesota, Illinois, Arkansas, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Maine, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Delaware all protect hemp in some form.
Hemp is among the fastest-growing categories in the natural foods industry, as hempseed is a rich source of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids, which provide both stearidonic acid and gamma-linolenic acid, highly digestible protein, and naturally occurring vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin E and iron. An excellent source of dietary fiber, hempseed is also a complete protein, meaning it contains all 10 essential amino acids with no enzyme inhibitors, making it more digestible by the human body.
Hemp seed, milk, ice cream, oil, cereals and snacks, hemp protein powder, dietary supplements and body care products are increasingly becoming popular and available at natural and conventional grocers everywhere. Consumers are turning on to the nourishing health benefits of hemp foods and body products.
This is the ninth year of recognizing Hemp History Week by the trade organization Hemp Industries Association and advocacy group VoteHemp.com. The group plans for this year’s campaign to advocate for the full federal legalization of industrial hemp farming and raise consciousness on the environmental sustainability, health benefits, regenerative agriculture potential, and innovative technological applications of industrial hemp.
More than 1,800 events and retailer sales are planned for this celebration of Hemp History Week, coordinated by organizers, hemp farming advocates, and natural products industry leaders around the country.
Let us all celebrate Hemp History Week and know that this plant deserves a place in our nation’s favorable landscape of earth balance and clarity of life.