It is known that hemp was grown under the French regime, and was the first crop to be subsidized by government. In 1801, the Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada distributed hemp seeds to farmers. Edward Allen Talbot, Esq., while living in the Canadas during the 1820s wrote “Five Years’ Residence in the Canadas”. Talbot wrote that if Canada produced enough hemp to supply Britain, this would end their dependence on a foreign power and greatly benefit Canadian settlers. In 1822, the provincial parliament of Upper Canada allocated Ј300 for the purchase of machinery to process hemp and Ј50 a year over three years for repairs.
The 1923 budget offered incentives to domestic producers. Fielding, finance minister said that there was a market in Canada and with some government encouragement a mill could be established in Manitoba to draw from crops in the vicinity. There were six hemp mills in Canada at the time, and the government financed a seventh, the Manitoba Cordage Company. Although hemp played a major role in the early development of North America, it was eventually overshadowed by cotton. When the invention of the mechanical cotton gin at the end of eighteenth century made it easier to process cotton, hemp could no longer compete. Traditionally, Hemp was processed by hand which was very labour intensive and costly, not lending itself towards modern commercial production. Schlichten patented a new machine for separating the fiber from the internal woody core (‘Hurds’) reducing labour costs by a factor of 100 and increasing fiber yield significantly. Mr Schlichten and his machines disappeared, not surprisingly! The main crisis for Hemp arose in America during the 1930’s due to propaganda created from companies with vested interest from the new petroleum based synthetic textile companies and the large and powerful newspaper / lumber barons who saw hemp as the biggest threat to their businesses. The 1930s coalesce, unsurprisingly, with the DuPont patenting their new “plastic fiber”.
By the 1930s, new machinery, which separated the fiber from the rest of the plant, was available and affordable. These innovations simplified the harvesting and production, making it more cost-effective. Manufacturers were also interested in byproducts such as the seed oil for paint and lacquer, and hurds for paper. According to the February 1938 issue of Popular Mechanics (written early 1937), hemp was then on the verge of becoming “the billion-dollar crop.” However, in September 1937, the United States government, under the influence of the lobbying of synthetic textile companies (like DuPont) and several other powerful groups who saw hemp as a big threat to their businesses, proposed prohibitive tax laws, and levied an occupational excise tax upon hemp dealers. Later that year hemp production was banned altogether. The Canadian government, following the American lead, prohibited production under the Opium and Narcotics Act on August 1, 1938. The 1942 Japanese invasion of the Philippines cut the U.S. Until the end of the war, farmers with special permits grew hemp to supply the war effort. To encourage farmers to grow hemp during this period, the United States Department of Agriculture released the film “Hemp for Victory”. It stated, “In 1942, patriotic farmers at the government’s request planted 36,000 acres of seed hemp, an increase of several thousand per cent. The goal for 1943 is 50,000 acres of seed hemp.” However, the ban on growing hemp remained after the Second World War. Hemp, which has historically had over 25,000 diverse uses ranging from paints, printing inks, varnishes, paper, Government documents, bank notes, food, textiles (the original ‘Levi’s’ jeans were made from Hemp cloth), canvas (artists canvases were used by the great masters) and building materials still remains banned in this country whose Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper. With modern technical developments, uses have increased to composite boards, motor vehicle brake and clutch pads, plastics, fuels, bio-diesel and Eco-solid fuel. In fact anything that can be made from a hydrocarbon (fossil fuel) can be made from a carbohydrate, but the strong lobbies still manage to keep the growth of this useful crop banned and the public disillusioned. Hemp is an annual growing from seed up to 5m in height (16 ft). It is one of the most efficient plants known for its ability to utilize sunlight to photosynthesis. It's one of the earliest domesticated plants known to mankind and has been cultivated by many civilizations for over 12,000 years. Hemp use archaeologically dates back to the Neolithic Age in China. Hemp fiber imprints have been found on Yangshao culture pottery dating from the 5th millennium BC. Up until 1883 hemp was our planet's most important industry for thousands of products and ample enterprises producing the overall majority of the earth's fiber, fabric, lighting oil, incense, fiberglass replacement, lightweight sandwich boards, composite woods, kitty litter, potting mix, feminine care products, fuel, medicines, paper, as well as a primary source of protein for humans and animals. The Spaniards brought hemp to the western hemisphere and cultivated it in Chile starting about 1545. In 1606, French botanist Louis Hebert planted the first hemp crop in North America in Port Royal, Acadia (present–day Nova Scotia). As early as 1801, the Lieutenant Governor of the province of upper Canada, on behalf of the King of England, distributed hemp seed free to Canadian farmers.
George Washington pushed for the growth of Hemp and even grew hemp himself. In 1850 Kentucky had a peak year producing 40,000 tons. Hemp was the largest cash crop until the 20th Century. Government predicted that by the 1940s all paper would come from hemp and that no more trees would need to be cut down. Government studies reported that 1 acre of hemp equals 4.1 acres of trees. In 1937, the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 was passed in the United States.
It levied a tax on anyone who dealt commercially in cannabis, hemp, or marijuana.