Hemp production was banned across the United States in 1937, with the passage of the Marijuana Tax Act. As reported by PBS, this law made it difficult for farmers to produce hemp, a crop used to make flour, hemp milk, cooking oil and beer, as well as for dietary supplements. In the 1930s, new industries such as cotton, synthetic plastics, liquor and wood were able to replace hemp. According to a February 1938 edition of Popular Mechanics, hemp was about to become a multi-billion dollar crop before the Marijuana Tax Act. Hemp is also used for practical purposes, from clothing to concrete, whereas marijuana has no practical uses.
Hemp had actually been a “staple crop” in North America since before colonization, and its cultivation continued during World War II. While marijuana and hemp have different chemical properties, the two varieties of the cannabis plant look and smell the same. Let's look at the reasons hemp was allowed for a brief period before returning to its banned state. However, there were still strict restrictions on hemp, as the DEA continued to recognize it as a Schedule 1 controlled substance and oversaw some facets of hemp cultivation. While both contain THC, hemp has the lowest levels so people can enjoy the health benefits of cannabis without the high. The ban on hemp can be seen in the language of the CSA, which names marijuana as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, meaning that it has no medical purpose and is very likely to be abused.
Outside of prohibitive legislation, corporate interests have influenced the ban on hemp. The definition is broad and labels marijuana and its components as hallucinogens, leading to the prohibition of hemp under this law. And while legal issues remain (especially with respect to consumer products containing cannabinoids derived from hemp), hemp is increasingly familiar to regulatory authorities and society at large.