Hemp became the first agricultural crop. Farmers recognized the benefits of hemp cultivation for their fields: fallen leaves created fertilized and replenished the nitrogen, nutrients and oxygen, allowing farmers to rotate other crops. Hemp was utilized for tool-making, equipment and harvested for fiber.
Hemp was being cultivated in England. King Henry VIII fined his constituents if they did not grow hemp. Hemp became the primary source of clothing material.
Hemp was cultivated by North American settlers in Jamestown, for clothing, building materials, sails, and weapons.
The Virginia Assembly required all citizens to grow hemp.
Most of the newly formed United States were cultivating industrial hemp on large scales. American society became aware of the industrial and medicinal uses of hemp.
The United States Dispensatory, a less restrictive medical guide that included drugs not recognized in the pharmacopeia, included hemp extract and medical cannabis.
The Federal Bureau of Narcotics was created and Henry Anslinger was appointed to lead the department.
The Marijuana Tax Act federally outlawed the use and non-industrial cultivation of the cannabis plant in America, without differenitially the clear differences between hemp and marijuana.
The United States Department of Agriculture encouraged American farmers to plant cannabis for hemp cultivation for the war effort. The government distributed seeds and offered draft deferments to farmers who produced the crops. By 1943 farmers had cultivated nearly 400,000 acres of hemp.
The industrial cultivation of hemp was banned under the Controlled Substances Act as a Schedule I drug.
President Obama signed the U.S. Farm Bill into law allowing for the cultivation of hemp. The Bill allows state departments of agriculture and institutions of higher education to introduce industrial hemp cultivation programs.
Legislation is constantly being introduced in various states to allow and promote the cultivation of industrial hemp.