From Kentucky to the White House: The Road to Hemp Legalization

It's been a blissful day for our company, and the entire hemp industry. For the first time since we began farming hemp in Kentucky in 2014, we can confidently say hemp is permanently, undoubtedly, 100% LEGAL and HERE TO STAY!

Per the 2018 Farm Bill, which was just signed by President Trump, industrial hemp, and all its derivatives (including cannabinoids like CBD!) are completely exempt from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and can be grown by farmers and sold in all 50 states.

Legal Hemp and CBD

It has been a long journey since we set out on this path over five years ago, but we always knew the vision would become a reality. We had confidence in the process, policy makers, lobbyists, and grassroots organizations who have worked tirelessly for this cause.

Most importantly, we've always known that by contributing to the development of hemp, we could help create jobs and farming incomes while providing innovative solutions that address emerging health and resource sustainability issues.

In light of the legalization of hemp, we wanted to take a moment to share the story behind the fight, to honor the individuals and organizations who championed this victory that will provide opportunity to people around the world.

Kentucky Started with Hemp

Kentucky and Hemp go back a long way. Some of the earliest printed documentation on the state referred to it being a land of hemp. Daniel Boone's earliest adventures took him through the many lush locations that would produce the crop. Some historians have argued that hemp is what helped push through Kentucky's rise to statehood. But, why did hemp take off in the Bluegrass?

Kentucky's First Crops

Kentucky's first hemp crop was grown in 1775. The site of this development was near Danville, but it didn't take long before hemp took over the Bluegrass. The crop took less time to yield results and even the smallest owner of land could make a profit with the material. So, what made it take off in Kentucky?

Hemp History in Kentucky

It all started on a farm in Ashland. A young politician named Henry Clay rose through the political ranks to Washington, DC. Senator Henry Clay ended up developing the American system as a way to take hemp to the international masses.

All American naval ships were pushed to require American hemp for their riggings. When the US Navy was slow to oblige, Clay took the media to browbeat military officials. It didn't hurt that Clay was a huge hemp producer in his native state.

By the 19th century, Kentucky became America's leading hemp producer. Production peaked at 40,000 tons in 1850. While that seems like a paltry amount when compared to modern agricultural production, it must be remembered that this was done by manual labor.

In fact, these same early generations of farmers can be directly traced to the farmers now producing Ananda Hemp.

Legal History of Hemp in Kentucky

Then, in early 2013, a group of Kentuckians decided it was time to end Hemp Prohibition. The Bluegrass State has a proven track record for favorable growing conditions for hemp, and there was no legitimate reason why our farmers shouldn't be allowed to grow the crop, capitalize on this growing market and provide access to valuable resources to consumers.

And with that, advocates such as Jonathan Miller and then Ag Commissioner James Comer set out to legalize hemp production in Kentucky and lobby Capitol Hill to secure a provisional pilot program.

On January 30, 2014, President Barrack Obama signed the 2014 Farm Bill, and corresponding Section 7606, which reinvigorated the hemp movement, forever.

Simultaneously, Ananda Hemp (MOU: "Ecofibre Kentucky") received the first commercial license to legally grow hemp on an old tobacco farm in the rolling hills of Northcentral Kentucky. With a vision and a handshake, we committed to growing Ecofibre Ltd.'s Australian seed genetics on a family farm.

To our surprise, the DEA seized the first seed shipment. Luckily, the Kentucky Department of Ag filed a complaint against the DEA and in a quick, sweeping victory, the seeds were released, and our project received the green light to proceed. 

Legality of CBD

Soon after, Senator Rand Paul also backed the insertion of crucial language into the 2015-16 Omnibus Spending Bill which made commercialization of domestically-grown hemp possible. This is an often-overlooked piece of the puzzle within this five-year journey and we're extremely grateful for Senator Paul's commitment to the industry.

However, legal challenges and uncertainties were still postulated by federal agencies, state authorities, and naysayers. It became clear the industry needed a joint, single lobbying effort to cement the mission.

In 2017, our company and a handful of other hemp leaders co-founded the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, a coalition representing every link of the product chain, from seed to sale, to help secure passage of bi-partisan legislation. Within a year, membership has grown significantly to 60 companies that all aligned to fight the good fight - together.

Now, through the efforts of the Roundtable and other crucial lobbying and grassroots organizations (and vast public support Senator Mitch McConnell) has championed and secured permanent hemp legalization - knowing it will increase jobs and income to farmers. This business boom applies not only in his home state, but all over the country.

The power of hemp and its byproducts cannot be denied – the plant will now be the cornerstone of the green revolution, which is already making waves in the healthcare and sustainability industries in our own backyard and around the world.

It is time to plant the seeds. To open our minds and bodies to alternative therapies. To regenerate our soils and eliminate our addiction to chemical pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. To unite as communities and curb hunger, clothe and heal the world, and boost the economy with the powerful and limitless capabilities of industrial hemp.

But, you may be asking, why was hemp ever made illegal in the first place?

The Inside Scoop on the Legal History of Cannabis

As hemp technology became more efficient, it threatened massive corporations. Out of fear and greed, these industry leaders collaborated to outlaw hemp. This is why marijuana is illegal.

Legal Hemp and CBD

Hearst and DuPont

The Hearst Corporation and DuPont Chemical Company were enjoying great success in the 1930's with their manufacturing of wood-pulp paper and nylon products. Hearst was also a major logging company and produced DuPont's tree pulp paper.

In addition to being a timber mogul, Hearst was a publishing giant who owned major newspapers and popular magazines. DuPont had just patented nylon and a new process for making paper from wood pulp when word spread of a new billion dollar crop. So, how does this play into why marijuana is illegal?

Hemp - The Billion Dollar Crop

In February 1938, Popular Mechanics hailed hemp as the "New Billion Dollar Crop" due to the introduction of mass production harvesting equipment. The same month, Mechanical Engineering called hemp "the most profitable and desirable crop that can be grown."

Capable of yielding up to three crops per year in southern climates, one acre of hemp produces about the same amount of cellulose as four acres of trees. This miracle crop that could be used to replace trees and for anything from "cellophane to dynamite" looked like formidable competition.

Hemp's market share and consequent threat it posed was significant. Billions in profits were at risk for old-school businesses, namely Hearst and DuPont, as well as their financial backer, banking mogul Andrew Mellon. Mellon was the Secretary of the Treasury under President Herbert Hoover and owner of the 6th largest bank at the time.

The news was particularly alarming to William Randolph Hearst because he held vast forest lands in California that produced the newsprint for his newspapers. He also had enormous holdings in timber and acreage and investments in paper manufacturing, but DuPont had by far the most to lose.

The DuPont family made its fortune in gunpowder and dynamite. With financing from Mellon, DuPont created a monopoly in the textile industry by placing patents on its chemical formulas for synthetic fabrics such as Nylon, Lucite and Teflon, and in 1937 acquired patents to make plastics from oil and coal.

Hearst and DuPont knew they had to quash hemp as a possible competitor to wood-pulp and nylon, and they did just that with the help of an ambitious government bureaucrat by the name of Harry Anslinger.

Mellon appointed his niece's husband, Harry Anslinger, to Director of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics in 1930. Early on, Anslinger was on record saying the idea that cannabis caused people to go crazy or violent was an "absurd fallacy."

However, after Anslinger was put in charge of the FBN, he changed his position.

"From the moment he took charge of the bureau, Harry was aware of the weakness of his new position. A war on narcotics alone — cocaine and heroin, outlawed in 1914 — wasn't enough. They were used only by a tiny minority, and you couldn't keep an entire department alive on such small crumbs. He needed more."

-Johann Hari, Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs

Using Anslinger's position within the U.S. government and leveraging Hearst's empire of newspapers and magazines as propaganda outlets, the two went on a highly-inflammatory anti-marijuana public relations crusade.

Hemp Smear Campaign

Hearst and Aslinger concocted dramatic and sensationalistic stories that described marijuana as an evil drug that led to murder, rape and insanity.

In particular, Anslinger fixated on the story of Victor Licata. Licata killed his family with an ax while allegedly high on cannabis. It was discovered many years later; however, that Licata had a history of mental illness, and there was no proof he ever used the drug.

Anslinger spoke to 30 scientists. 29 told him that cannabis wasn't a dangerous drug, but it was the theory of a single expert who agreed with him that cannabis was evil and should be banned that Anslinger presented to the public. The media latched onto this story and ran with it.

Race played another role in Anslinger's quest to ban cannabis. He claimed that blacks and Latinos were the primary users of marijuana and that using cannabis made them forget their "place" in society. He even went so far to say that cannabis promoted interracial mixing and interracial relationships.

The sensationalized news reports and Anslinger's anti-cannabis war penetrated the nation and very quickly nationwide attitude towards cannabis began to fall in line with Anslinger.

Marijuana Tax Act

Anslinger's influence played a major role in the introduction and passage of the Marijuana Tax Act. He testified before Congress and argued that there was an increase in reports of middle-class people smoking marijuana.

A provocative letter from a newspaper editor in Colorado said, "I wish I could show you what a small marijuana cigarette can do to one of our degenerate Spanish-speaking residents."

Despite being opposed by the American Medical Association who argued in support of the therapeutic benefits of marijuana, Congress passed the act in 1937. 

"I wish I could show you what a small marijuana cigarette can do to one of our degenerate Spanish-speaking residents."

- Newspaper editor, Colorado

Cannabis Makes a Comeback

Cannabis production was ignited in the U.S. once again as imports of hemp were needed to produce parachutes, marine cordage and other military necessities became scarce.

The Department of Agriculture gave out seeds and encouraged American farmers to plant hemp in its "Hemp for Victory" program, but fears of cannabis returned.

Controlled Substances Act

Richard Nixon, during his 1968 presidential campaign, promised to restore "law and order" to America. Upon being elected, he declared a War Against Drug Abuse. Under Nixon's presidency, the Controlled Substances Act, which classified drugs on four different schedules, passed in 1970.

The federal act classified cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug, causing it to be considered one of the most dangerous substances that carry the highest penalty. The act fails to recognize the differences between marijuana and hemp. The act is still in place today.

Hemp for Victory 

This World War II propaganda campaign was geared to get states producing hemp for the war effort. But, hemp was placed under a strict Prohibition roughly five years before this effort began.

It didn't matter as, between the Great Depression and the onset of World War II, the American military was running low on materials. Our fighting men needed parachutes, ropes and other products that could only be provided by hemp.

Why Hide Hemp for Victory?

Before 1989, the American government denied ever making such a film to promote this program. Thankfully, a Miami Herald journalist was able to find a copy for William Conde. Over the next 20 years, the 15-minute two-reel film had a habit of appearing at many Pro-Cannabis events and eventually the Internet.

But, why would the US Government keep such a film hidden?

Hemp for Irony?

Well, the War Effort put America in a bind. While the Government would have preferred using a traditional rope and other devices, those natural fibers were in short supply due to the War in Europe.

The irony is appreciated by history, as it must have been quite the sight to see the US Department of Agriculture have to backpedal after just five years. What's even crazier is that after World War II ended, things went back to straight Prohibition.

Ananda Hemp is 100% Legal!

Our hemp products are grown in Kentucky - the state that legalized the commercial growing of industrial hemp. We work closely with the State of Kentucky and the Department of Agriculture to ensure we are compliant with all existing laws regarding hemp extracts and byproducts.

Section 7606 of the 2014 farm bill states that regardless of another federal law (including the Controlled Substances Act), if the growing and cultivation of industrial hemp is allowed under state law and overseen by the Department of Agriculture, then the product can be manufactured and sold as part of the state's approved hemp pilot program.