Hemp In America, A Brief History

Hemp In America, A Brief History

Hemp, Hey How ya doin?

Howdy folks. It’s been a while since we’ve talked CBD. Don’t worry, it’s not because we’re out of material. We’ve just been having so much fun discovering strange new brews and whipping up coffee cocktails. We figured you’ve probably been asking yourselves when we’d put out a think piece, and we decided a slow Sunday night is the best time to hop into our journey.  This time around, we’re going to talk through the history of Hemp in America. You know, because hemp makes CBD. And like, we make CBD coffee.

Hemp, As American As Apple Pie

First, let’s have a quick history lesson. Hemp was actually one of the first cash crops grown in the United States. As a matter of fact, in the 1600’s, EVERY American was required to grow hemp on their land. A royal decree by King James I required that every American property in the colony of Jamestown grew at least 100 hemp plants. The harvested hemp would be exported back to England to be turned into sails and ropes for ships.

American farmers continued to embrace hemp production for most of the 18th and 19th centuries. A little known fact is that George Washington was an avid hemp farmer, and grew hundreds of acres of the crop at his residence at Mount Vernon. The Declaration of Independence, signed in 1776, was even written on hemp paper! Hemp and American history are intertwined throughout time.

They Didn't teach you this in AP US History

In 1916, Hemp production in the United States as at an all time high. Kentucky, a state that embraced the crop moreso than anyone else, was producing over 850,000 tons of raw material a year. The USDA even released a study saying that an acre of hemp produced more than 4x the amount of paper than trees. Needless to say, business was booming. Hemp was one of the most produced crops on American soil, and it did not look like things would be changing soon.

However, in 1937 the Marihuana Tax Act was passed. A significant tax was imposed on the sale of cannabis products (hemp included) and production was heavily discouraged. It is largely believed that hemp was lumped into this legislation to sway the markets. Both nylon and plastic were proving to be growing industries, and it is thought that lobbyists saw hemp as a threat to potential market share. Thus, much like the trolley system, the American hemp industry was unfairly targeted.

This did not ban hemp production however. During WWII, hemp made a brief comeback in popular culture due to the Hemp For Victory” campaign. Realizing that they did not have the raw materials available to keep producing important wartime goods like paper and rope, the USDA encouraged farmers to plant over 400,000 acres during the war to support the war effort. This bubble was short lived however, and hemp fell back into obscurity once the war had been won.

Reefer Madness

Enter 1970. The summer of love had just ended, and the war on drugs had begun. With the passage of the Controlled Substances Act, hemp was classified as a Schedule 1 drug. This meant that hemp was viewed the same as both heroin and LSD, and therefore was all production was halted, criminalized, and banned.


Now, we jump forward 30 years. In 1998, the United States allowed the import of hemp seeds and hemp oil. The industry started to pick up again. Researchers began looking into the medical benefits of both CBD and hemp oil, and in 2004 the sales of both hemp foods and body care products was legalized. The ball just started rolling.

In 2007, the first hemp licenses in over 50 years were granted to farmers in North Dakota. The rest of the country began to take notice. This was a largely bipartisan issue, which we all know is exceptionally rare nowadays in our country. This is because largely conservative states have farming economies, and there was no doubting the economic viability of legal hemp farming. Even Mitch McConnell, a staunch conservative, began to draft legislation that would federally legalize the crop again.

By 2014, the first iteration of the farm bill was signed by President Obama. We can’t stress how huge this was. This legally allowed research organizations to pilot hemp farming. Whenever the federal government puts a pilot program into effect, it’s the sign of bigger things to come. We knew what hemp could do, and they were putting feelers out to see if all of this would start a bigger movement.

Free At Last Free at Last

Then, it all came to a climax. On December 20th 2018, President Trump signed the Farm Bill into law. The legislature, largely focused on subsidies for the farming industry, was truly ground breaking. It allowed for the farming of legal hemp! Specifically, it removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act. This allowed for all hemp derivatives (ahem, CBD) to be legally cultivated and used in all sorts of products.

The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. As you know, in December of 2018, NuRange Coffee was just getting off the ground. With the federal legalization of hemp and therefore CBD products (under 0.3% THC***) everyone was hopping into the CBD market. We saw the potential, put in the research and were able to come up with our kickass NuRange CBD Cold Brew. Hemp and American history are tied together hand in hand, and we’re looking forward to being a part of it. Maybe some obscure coffee company with a blog that nobody else reads will write about us in the future. We can only hope.