Today is President's Day, which is celebrated on the third Monday of February every year. This is a day to honor all of our great nation's presidents, but specifically one of our nation's founding fathers, George Washington. Our Federal Government even calls today "Washington's Birthday" even though his actual date of birth is February 22nd, 1732.
In the 1760's, George Washington predicted that hemp could be a more profitable crop than tobacco and grew hemp across his farm in Mount Vernon. He was even quoted saying, " Hemp, grow it everywhere." These early American settlers were using hemp for food,medicine, rope, and clothing and George was well aware of the potential of this miracle crop.
At this time, hemp was a very abundant crop in the U.S and was so important to our country that you had to grow it, or pay a penalty tax. To our founding fathers, hemp was not only as good as money, it WAS money as it became an acceptable LEGAL tender throughout colonial times. During these times you could feed, cloth, and even pay TAXES with hemp. Whether it was powering early American ships, clothed and sheltering our soldiers, or providing the paper material for the Declaration of Independence, hemp is truly a crop that helped build our great nation.
In 1937, the Marihuana Tax Act put an end to this amazing crop due to guilt by association. Hemp and Marijuana are visually identical and this influenced the government to require hemp farmers to register their hemp crops with the federal government and purchase a VERY expensive tax stamp. This new regulation forced farmers and consumers to find cheaper alternatives to hemp which literally killed the hemp market almost overnight.
Several years later, WWII changed the minds of the federal government with the, "Hemp for Victory" program, which urged and paid farmers to grow hemp for the war for the supply of parachutes, uniforms, rope, tarps and other items needed for battle. Overall, hemp played a vital role in World War II and we would have been at a disadvantage without it.
Unfortunately after the war, politicians saw hemp as a threat the plastic, textile, and paper industries and were able to successfully lobby to have hemp outlawed again. In 1970, our federal government even classified hemp as marijuana despite evidence that they are very different. Hemp has certainly had it rough throughout the history of our country and we feel that it is important to share the history of this amazing crop and all of the good that it has done throughout the upbringing of our country.
Without greedy industrialists and politicians in the picture, try to take a step back and imagine all of the horrible things on this earth that could have been replaced with hemp..From oil to plastic, our lands and oceans would certainly be in a much cleaner state if we would have just relied on our natural resources without money getting in the way.
All in all, today we specifically recognize the founding fathers of our great country who truly realized the incredible potential of hemp and we can certainly hope that they would have let it flourish throughout our entire American history.