The federal policies of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, combined with the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, led to the virtual ban of industrial hemp production in the United States. This was due to hemp being associated with its identical twin, marijuana, and the War on Drugs. Despite advances in federal hemp policy and state marijuana laws, the federal ban on marijuana still stands. The Hemp Industries Association has named this law as the beginning of the outlawing of hemp, as it made it difficult for farmers to produce it.
In states that choose not to design a hemp regulatory program, the USDA will build a regulatory program under which hemp growers in those states must apply for licenses and comply with a program administered by the federal government. Section 12619 of the Farm Bill removes hemp products from their Schedule I status under the Controlled Substances Act, but does not legalize CBD in general. Section 7605 again extends protections for hemp research and the conditions under which such research can and should be conducted. Last year, a team of scientists led by David Mitlin at the University of Alberta manufactured a supercapacitor, an energy storage device, with surplus hemp.
They lost access to hemp produced in the Philippines and farmers grew large quantities of hemp with the help of government subsidies. Ambrose, from the University of Kentucky School of Medicine and author of “Transylvania University and Its Connection to Hemp” told PBS NewsHour that Henry Ford created a car panel from plastic derived from straw, pine, hemp and ramie to help farmers during the Great Depression. The Drug Enforcement Administration has granted several dozen permits to grow hemp in nine states. In addition, Section 7501 of the Farm Bill expands hemp research by including hemp under the Farm Materials Act.
Despite legal issues remaining (particularly with regard to consumer products containing cannabinoids derived from hemp), hemp is becoming more familiar to regulatory authorities and society at large. Many members of the advocacy community hope that reforms to hemp policy under the Farm Bill will serve as a first step toward broader cannabis reform.