Here's David Brannon's most recent editorial contribution for Baked Life. Part 1 of this article is here.
Throughout the 1930’s patriotic German farmers grew hemp at the behest of their Nazi government. This was done to serve the needs of the Fatherland’s growing war machine. None of this hemp was for export. In 1937 the US federal government outlawed the hemp plant in America, making our nation dependant on foreign sources to supply our nation’s need for natural coarse fibers. By early 1942 Japan’s military and political expansion in the Pacific had cut the USA off from all supplies of hemp and other valuable natural coarse fibers. Americas’ military, especially the Navy, sans hemp, now had a problem. Hemp, while illegal, was critical to the war effort.
But, fear not, for the same legislative magic that had outlawed the hemp plant in 1937, calling it the assassin of youth, now brought the plant back to polite society. Somehow, someway, and because it was necessary for the war effort, the assassin morphed into something safe enough for the American government to ask children in Kentucky 4-H programs to grow a seed supply for the nation. That seed was planted the next year in the Hemp for Victory campaign.
In 1942 – 43 American farmers were required to attend a showing of a short film titled Hemp for Victory and then read a booklet on hemp cultivation. Farmers were obligated to attest that they had, indeed, viewed the film. You can watch this film on YouTube, and, as it is short, interesting, and part of our history, I hope you will do so.
The goal for 1943 was 350,000 acres of America in hemp cultivation. Farmers and their sons -- who grew hemp -- were exempt from the military draft during WWII. This is significant as, especially in the early days of the war, 1942/3, there were very few exemptions from military service. That’s how important a supply of hemp was at that time.
When the Second World War was won our soldiers returned to praise, parades and respect. There was no reward for the hemp plant, just a return to outlaw status. How ungrateful.
In 1942 Hemp meant self-sufficiency in rope and cordage, critical items to a nation at war. Today hemp could offer a step towards self-sufficiency in cleaner energy supplies, new medicines, and a less toxic relaxant that alcohol. We should accept that help. The gifts of mankind’s ancient friend, the hemp plant, could still be ours. Why don’t we accept?