Industrial hemp is a variety of the cannabis sativa plant that has been grown specifically for industrial uses of its derived products for thousands of years. It is one of the first plants to ever be spun into usable fiber. Hemp was an important and life-changing crop for many generations and cultures throughout history.


Old Roots & Fast Growth

Hemp has been harvested as an industrial crop for over eight thousand years, with the earliest hemp harvest dating back around 8,500 years ago in China.  Hemp is notably one of the oldest sources of textile fiber. Hemp fiber was introduced to Asia, Egypt and eventually Europe in 1000 and 2000 BCE. By the year 1545 hemp fiber was introduced to South America, landing in Chile, and by 1606 it made its’ way to North America. Industrial hemp farming flourished in Kentucky, Missouri, and Illinois from the years 1840-1860. By 1912, near the end of the Civil War, nearly all hemp product in the United States came from Kentucky.

United States historians document that George Washington grew hemp himself and encouraged its cultivation in the US with his diary noting that in May of 1765 he was sowing hemp seeds daily and writes about harvesting them months later. George Washington was not the only United States president known to grow hemp; Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Munroe, Andrew Jackson, Zachary Taylor, and Franklin Pierce were also known to farm hemp.

The Death of a Booming Industry

The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 was passed in the United States in the year 1937. This act levied a tax on anyone dealing commercially in cannabis, hemp, or marijuana. The passing of this act reportedly destroyed the industrial hemp farming industry in the United States. The exact political reasons behind the passing of this Act can only be theorized but many speculate that businessmen and influential investors that had their money in timber and nylon pushed for the Act out of fear that hemp would become a cheaper substitute for both. This law transferred the regulation of hemp production over to The Department of Revenue who became responsible for licensing all hemp farmers. Growers had to start paying a tax and sign an agreement that they would not use the plant for recreational purposes, as a drug.

Despite the 1937 Marihuana Act, hemp was used extensively during World War II. In the United States a “Hemp for Victory” campaign was started, encouraging growers to once again embrace industrial hemp farming and citing hemp as a necessary crop to win the war. Hemp was used to make uniforms, canvas, and rope. This campaign included setting up new hemp processing plants with the promise of jobs for Americans. However, when WWII ended the demand for domestically grown hemp also ended, leaving partially constructed hemp processing plants across the mid-west and many farmers with canceled hemp contracts.

For years following the death of the hemp industry in the United States the plant continued to face heavy regulations and a false stigma. Check out our History of Hemp Part II – A Rebirth for how industrial hemp farming has made a comeback in the United States and across the globe.

For more information on how to get your hemp farm started today email us at or give us a call at (702) 992 – 0552. We look forward to exploring the possibilities today of how we work together tomorrow.