No one expected this administration to be the one to finally kill to the prohibition of hemp. With all the madness and ignorance pouring out of Washington these days, objective progress seemed like something America was going to have to wait for.
But these are strange times. And expectations are becoming a dubious thing to dabble in.
On Wednesday December 12th, a farming bill passed through both Congress (by a vote of 369 to 47) and the House of Representatives (by 87 to 13), that will effectively make hemp a federally legal agricultural product in America. And Donald Trump says he’s going to sign it into law.
This is a huge and surprisingly liberal step for a conservatively bent Washington. And it’s even more bizarre when you learn that it was Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell who put forth this amendment to remove hemp from the list of federally controlled substances.
Peculiar as that is, though, no one is complaining. This bill, once good ol’ Donny Sr. puts his Hancock on it, will effectively close a drawn out and unnecessary chapter in American history — that of the prohibition of hemp.
There are some interesting conspiracies out there as to why hemp was made illegal in the first place. The usual claim you’ll hear is that four powerful businessmen banded together in the early 1900’s to kill a rising industry that threatened their wealth. And they did so with something known to history as “the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937.”
The details of this oft-cited urban legend are fuzzy. But basically (the story goes), hemp as a product threatened two of the largest industries in the nation at the time: paper and nylon. Because hemp made for a cheaper, stronger alternative to both of those, and because it was largely farmed by Mexican immigrants, these four tycoons (William Randall Hearst, the DuPont family, Andrew Mellon, and Henry Anslinger) conspired to make hemp and all cannabis products illegal with one sweeping legislative act.
The authenticity of that story is debatable. But what isn’t, is that newspapers (owned and operated by Hearst) started printing lies and spreading propaganda about cannabis around that time, linking it to acts of violence and referring to it as “marihuana” instead of hemp or reefer. Why?
Put simply: to tap into racist fears and irrationalities.
Americans were already familiar with hemp products; they already knew this stuff was generally harmless and pretty useful. So, Hearst decided to rewrite the narrative. In order to make hemp less appealing to the public, his papers started referring to it by its Mexican slang term: marihuana. Which, was supposed to frighten consumers, confuse them with foreign words and imprint a negative connotation on the stuff.
It worked. Cannabis products quickly fell out of the main stream and into the underground. In no time at all, the government was making films like “Reefer Madness” and America had developed a fear for all things cannabis.
Luckily, that all seems to be changing now. This new farming bill is going to push this country one step closer towards federal legalization. It will open the floodgates for hemp-based CBD production and research, which will in turn, pressure the government to explore other medicinal cannabinoids such as THC. By legalizing hemp and hemp products on a federal level, Congress and the White House, knowingly or not, have dealt a significant blow to the prohibition of weed.
They’ve cracked the status quo, and the levy might be closer to breaking than any of us realize.