Today, cultivation of industrial hemp is still illegal in most states, even as 20 states have or are in the process of legalizing weed. But during World War II, the government encouraged farmers to grow this versatile crop in support of the war effort.
Read on to learn four interesting facts about “Hemp for Victory,” an informational propaganda film produced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1942.
The film was required viewing for all farmers during World War II, according to IMDb
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“Hemp for Victory” detailed the uses of hemp, provided a history of the plant, and discussed the best methods for growing a bountiful crop.
Because many of these uses, such as textiles and rope, were critical for the war effort, the government required all farmers to view this approximately 15-minute movie.
“Hemp for Victory” is reportedly in the public domain, which means that it can be accessed free of charge from the Library of Congress, although it is yet to be included in the National Film Registry
Although the government once denied making such a film, two VHS copies were located in 1989 and their contents have become widely available ever since.
You can also watch the black and white production on YouTube.
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3. According to PBS
, the impetus to produce "Hemp for Victory" came from "a shortage of Manila hemp that was imported and used in ship’s rigging," which would have jeopardized the war effort, particularly in the Pacific theater, which likely caused the scarcity in the first place.
The film aimed to increase acres of industrial hemp grown from 36,000 in 1942 to more than 50,000 in 1943, according to Global Hemp
Among other key advice, the narrator reminded potential hemp farmers to register through the government and have a federal tax stamp in order to grow hemp legally.
The movie also detailed how important the crop was for the war effort, providing information about how it was used to make ropes, sails, and other vital equipment.
While the government encouraged farmers to grow industrial hemp in 1942, the crop soon fell out of favor when the Drug Enforcement Administration noted
that it could not distinguish between hemp and marijuana crops.
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