CANNABIS CULTURE – The use of hemp was prevalent in the days of America’s founding fathers. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, among others, grew hemp. Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag out of hemp. Centuries later, this Fourth of July, a hemp flag flies over America once more.
The hemp flag make its debut above the United States Capital building, in Washington, D.C., on the Fourth of July.
Americans may think of hemp as taboo and not a patriotic crop; however, the use of hemp was relied upon and thoroughly entwined in American history.
Hemp was once the most valuable crop in America. It was legal to pay taxes with hemp until the early 1800s. In fact, refusing to grow hemp in America during the 17th and 18th centuries was against the law! For a brief period in the late 1700s, American citizens in Virginia could be jailed for refusing to grow hemp – quite the opposite of the current political climate surrounding hemp.
In the late 1930s, after alcohol prohibition was repealed, the use of hemp began to steadily decline (around the time of anti-marijuana propaganda film Reefer Madness was released).
According to congressional testimony by the Sherman Williams Paint Company, regarding the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act, 58,000 tons of hemp seeds were utilized in 1935, for paint products in America.
In 1942, the United States Department of Agriculture produced a film entitled, Hemp for Victory.
Michael Bowman, a hemp advocate from Colorado, thinks it’s high time the use of hemp was re-integrated into American society. Bowman, who brought the idea of flying a hemp flag to fruition, is also credited, according to Emily Heil of the Washington Post, with previously, albeit unsuccessfully, lobbying Congress to include pro-hemp measures in the farm bill. Hey, it sure beats planting genetically modified corn!
Bowman’s plan for the hemp flag to get high was accomplished with a little help from his friend, Colorado Representative Jared Polis.
Bowman’s banner is constructed from hemp that was grown in the marijuana-tolerant state of Colorado. While this hemp flag is technically THC-free (i.e. you can’t smoke it), the association is a given.
For Bowman, flying a flag made entirely from hemp, streaming over the Capitol Building on Independence Day, is considered “symbolic” and poetic justice by many marijuana advocates.
Here’s to Hemp Independence this Fourth of July. George Washington and Betsy Ross would be proud.