By Katie Rucke
A grow house with hemp plant cultivation. Vermont has become the most recent state to take a stand against the federal government and nullify the federal ban on hemp cultivation.(Photo/Coleen Whitfield via Flickr)
While much of the country has focused on the issue of whether to legalize marijuana for medical and recreational use, lawmakers in some states, such as Vermont, have pushed for the nullification of the federal ban on marijuana’s cannabis cousin: hemp.
Though smoking an entire garbage bag of hemp would not produce an altered state of consciousness, the 1970 Controlled Substances Act banned the production of industrial hemp after labeling hemp a dangerous threat. This was part of a propaganda campaign used by large corporations whose profits were being reduced because of the usefulness of hemp. They did this by associating hemp with marijuana.
Before the ban and classification of hemp as a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substance Act of 1970, hemp was the most important cash crop in the U.S. economy — more valuable than corn and wheat combined, since it was both a versatile and adaptable crop.
The Hemp Industries Association (HIA) estimated that the retail value of North American hemp food, vitamin and body care products was in the range of $121 to $142 million in 2010. When clothing, auto parts, building materials and other non-food or body care products are included, the HIA estimates that the total retail value of U.S. hemp products is about $419 million.