History of Hemp

From paper to rope, clothing to cosmetics, and biofuel to plastics — hemp has the potential to change the face of raw goods manufacturing forever. It makes one wonder why it’s taken so long for the modern global economy to take advantage of its potential. The truth is – most of the rest of the world has been manufacturing industrial hemp for some of the most basic and widely used consumer goods for hundreds of years. But its production in the United States has a more complicated story.  


The world has long known the benefits and uses of hemp, and long capitalized on them, going back thousands of years. Evidence shows that hemp originated on the Asian continent, originally used to make paper, rope, and clothing. It is also believed that hemp was the first industry of human civilization. The crop was first brought to the West by Spanish voyagers, who cultivated it in Chile starting in the 1500’s. When settlers first came to the American colonies, native tribes were already growing the crop. Up until the early 1900’s hemp was an industrialized crop used all over the world for numerous goods and products. Asian and European countries widely produce it to this day but, because of legal barriers, the United States banned hemp decades ago and only recently legalized it again, putting us way behind the industry globally. 

Hemp in the United States

Hemp was long an agricultural staple in the Americas before it was banned in the early 1900’s. Prior to that, hemp was used in colonial America to make rope, lamp fuel, paper, and even medicinal treatments, among many other products. Hemp was a widely grown crop in the 18th and 19th century United States. At one point colonial farmers were legally required to use a portion of their farmland for hemp. However, in the early 1900’s attitudes toward hemp among Americans began to sour as communities grew averse toward the negative impact of marijuana and lumped hemp in the same category as its narcotic cousin – even though they are two different plants and industrial hemp cannot be used to produce recreational drugs. 

The hemp industry steeply declined following the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, which all but killed demand for hemp goods since society largely and erroneously equated hemp to marijuana. There was a brief resurgence in hemp production with the onset of World War II while the U.S. military was in critical need of goods that could be efficiently produced with hemp – like paper. After the war, the decline of the industry continued as alternative products from fossil fuels became more affordable and the stigma against marijunana increased. 

A bill passed by Congress in 1970 – the Controlled Substances Act – shut down hemp production completely, in spite of the fact that hemp was a non-narcotic plant. Hemp remained a banned crop for nearly 50 years until 2018, when a provision in the 2018 Farm Bill allowed farmers to again plant hemp for commercial purposes.

Delta Ag’s Innovation

Delta Ag is at the forefront of hemp’s comeback in America. Established in 2018, it has hemp farming operations in Texas, Colorado and Kentucky, with significant expansions planned for the near future. Delta Ag’s business model is one of a kind that brings a level of quality and efficiency to hemp production never before seen. It is the raw goods solution of the future and paving the way for American businesses and industry to make their goals of carbon-neutral and carbon-negative production a reality faster than they could have ever imagined. 

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