Realising Industrial Hemp
The History Books
Was it the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning?
For hemp growers in the 1930s US, the former ran true. The introduction of the Marijuana Tax in 1937 saw hemp criminalised alongside its psychoactive cousin. Hemp’s similar appearance to marijuana meant it ‘fell victim‘ to political, economic and culturally driven policies that set the groundwork for the US’s war on drugs. However, this blip was neither the beginning nor the end of the great hemp chronicle.
Eighty-six years on this legislation is changing, attitudes have altered, and understanding of why hemp underwent a hiatus has brought it back. The fight to bring back hemp has seen serious investigation into all corners of hemp’s potential. Perhaps prohibition was a blessing in disguise?
Rewriting the Past
The start of 2023 has been a watershed moment, with the introduction of the amended Industrial Hemp Act in the US, forwarded by Senators Mike Braun and Jon Tester. The Senators’ bill exempts farmers exclusively growing industrial hemp from the burdensome background checks and costly sampling and testing protocols required for farmers growing cannabinoid hemp’.
Montana hemp growers IND Hemp first proposed this idea by highlighting the necessity of “industrial” in industrial hemp’s description. This proposition was put forward after the 2018 Farm Bill saw the removal of “industrial” from legislation, causing a temporary setback in the embracement of US hemp production. The word ‘hemp’ had once more become heavily used as an umbrella term, coinciding with rapidly emerging sub-sectors, CBD and hemp fibre. This process has led hemp to be perceived mainly for its supplemental and medicinal qualities. But the amended Industrial Hemp Act stands to bring hemp’s wide range of applications into greater focus.
What to Anticipate
Hemp events in the US are relevant to Hemspan and hemp organisations internationally in disrupting harmful conventions, such as those found in construction and agriculture. Therefore we can expect to see movement in the European scene. This is significant for Ireland, which is struggling to develop a local hemp industry. The crop offers excellent opportunities to improve land quality and increase job opportunities in rural regions.
Close ties between Ireland and the US may help speed up the adoption of hemp for these purposes.
Where to watch?
To name a few;
- Farmer Journals
- Government policy and investigations
- Mainstream construction conversation (includes architects and designers) – forums, magazines etc.
- VC investments
The hemp story in the US highlights the role of words, or lack thereof, in our perception of different materials. But it also offers insight into how an emerging industry might avoid or reduce obstacles to its development by ensuring product definition. Establishing hemp specifics in the US market is a crucial step in underscoring the diversity of the hemp supply chain and the value of this chain in core activities.