Long before legalizing weed was en vogue, the U.S. Department of Agriculture produced a 1942 informational film called “Hemp for Victory.”
The movie, which was required viewing for all farmers of the era, detailed the history of the hemp plant, the uses of industrial hemp, and tips and methods for growing this crop.
The film was the cornerstone of a larger campaign to encourage farmers to grow the industrial hemp needed for the war effort. As part of the campaign, farmers who committed to staying home and growing industrial hemp received a draft deferment.
The year the film was made, the government estimated that there were 32,000 acres of industrial hemp grown in the nation, primarily in Kentucky and Wisconsin.
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In "Hemp for Victory," the stated goal for 1943 was to increase that amount to 50,000 acres of industrial hemp. By that measure, the film was an unqualified success. In 1943, farmers registered in the federal "Hemp for Victory" program grew an estimated 375,000 acres of industrial hemp, according to PBS
Despite the success of the campaign, however, the industrial hemp boom ended as soon as the war ended. Industrial hemp became categorized as illegal along with marijuana, despite the fact that the two crops are completely different species of the cannabis sativa plant.
Though the rest of the world continued to grow industrial hemp, and though the import of parts of the plant that were not classed as marijuana remained legal, the days of this profitable crop were over in the U.S.
Although "Hemp for Victory" was only a short-term success, many of its messages are being revitalized today. Along with the movement for legalizing weed, many activists now stress the importance of once again legalizing industrial hemp.
Advocates for the crop argue that it can help revitalize the nation’s agriculture; industrial hemp has an estimated 25,000 uses, making it a financial boon for farmers.
It’s easy to grow in a variety of climates, helps prevent weeds, and serves as a perfect rotation crop for sustainable farming, according to Hemp Advocates
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