The History & Laws Behind The Crop Everyone Is Now Talking About

CBD and hemp laws and origins

The History & Laws Behind The Crop Everyone Is Now Talking About

Hemp is a variety of the cannabis sativa L. plant and has a very long history. Hemp is often confused with marijuana, but it’s important to note, hemp is a versatile plant with many uses and much different than marijuana.

Both plants offer similar benefits but marijuana is psychoactive and hemp won’t get you high regardless of quantity consumed. Among many traits that make hemp unique is that it was one of the first plants in history to be grown for purposes other than food.

Hemp and Cannabidiol (CBD) – the extracted oil from hemp – are very popular these days, but it hasn’t always been this way. We’ve outlined the history of hemp and cannabis so you can understand more about the crop that now is all the craze in 2019.

Hemp – A Look Back in Time

Hemp origins date back into ancient Chinese and Indian cultures thousands of years ago, long before America had discovered hemp. The Chinese created the first piece of paper using hemp in 150 BC. In America, many of the founding fathers such as Ben Franklin, James Madison, George Washington & Thomas Jefferson all grew hemp. It only makes sense then that the declaration of independence was written on hemp.

Hemp throughout history has been used for items such as rope, clothes, soaps, cooking oils, fibers, lotions and more. Until around 1883, 75% to 90% of all paper in the world was made from cannabis hemp fiber. One famous writing transcribed on hemp paper includes The Gutenberg Bible, which dates to the 15th century.

Hemp can be grown in a variety of different climates and soils all over the world. As hemp is highly resistant to bugs and other pests, cultivation of hemp doesn’t require a lot of harmful herbicides or pesticides. It’s no wonder hemp was such a valued crop that in turn presented a great opportunity.

The 18th century regarded hemp and cannabis as more of an asset or valuable crops than a liability. In 1839 Sir William Brooke O’Shaughnessy introduced the benefits of cannabis to the West. O’Shaughnessy studied the therapeutical properties of cannabis from indigenous people in India. Eventually, O’Shaughnessy brought medicinal cannabis mainstream to western society, making cannabis tinctures which were available at local pharmacies.

It seemed Cannabis and Hemp had great origins, up until a few events occur in the 19th Century such as; FDA, Controlled Substances Act, The Mexican Revolution & The Marijuana Tax Act to name a few.

Hemp & Cannabis – Why did it ever become Illegal?

Pure Food and Drug Act

Beginning in 1906 Congress enacted the Pure Food and Drug Act which in turn started the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) signed by President Theodore Roosevelt. This required that food labels be accurate and honest regarding the ingredients and by nature, cannabis was considered “addictive” under this act. Although, it did not outright ban cannabis the labels did now require disclosure to the public.

1914 Harrison Narcotics Tax Act

This act served as the first federal regulation for non-medical usage of drugs. The federal law taxed the production, importation, and distribution of opiates. The act was predominately concerned with the internal revenue or tax evasion, so it was not out to criminalize drug use at the time. States could not technically seize drugs however, it did pave the way for a more stringent law regarding cannabis.

Mexican Revolution

The largest turning point for cannabis and hemp may have begun around the FDA enactment above but the Mexican Revolution is also responsible for much of the backlash. The Mexican Revolution started in 1910 and once it ended it influenced a lot of Mexican immigrants to flood the US. With new migrants came a tradition and new vocabulary such as “Marihuana” and a nationalist agenda used this unfamiliar word and created propaganda. Marijuana was already being used in America as it was just another word for cannabis. It became very easy to use marijuana propaganda to fuel a racist agenda against the new migrants by employing anti-drug campaigns such as “marijuana menace”. Eventually, by using the fear of brown people (Mexican Immigrants) and combining with the fear of nightmare drugs it began a very powerful political agenda that was mainly based on racism and personal agendas to federally prohibit both cannabis. Racist officials then grouped cannabis and hemp together.

Federal Bureau of Narcotics & Harry Anslinger

As mentioned earlier the Harrison Act created the path for the more cannabis and hemp prohibition by eventually creating the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN). Established in 1930 to enforce the Harrison Act the FBN’s first commissioner was Harry J. Anslinger. The Federal Bureau of Narcotics passed a State Narcotic Drug Act in 1934 to create a nationwide uniform law to prosecute narcotics (heroin, morphine, and opium). Although narcotics were the primary target cannabis was included in a provision stating “any state wishing to regulate sale and possession of marijuana was instructed to simply add cannabis to the definition of narcotics drugs”.

Harry Anslinger was also a very prominent official who believed Cannabis caused people to become aggressive and deviant. Prior to the FBN, Anslinger was an assistant commissioner for the Treasury Department’s Bureau of Prohibition. He was regarded as an honest man who sought to fight corruption. Many believed Anslinger sought to protect his reputation and was steadfast with cannabis after the failure of Alcohol Prohibition (1920s). Looking at Anslinger’s history he originally took the stance that cannabis was no big deal but then once he was put in charge of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics he drastically changed his position. Harry Anslinger helped create propaganda against the black and Latino culture and several famous jazz musicians. Ultimately, Anslinger’s influence helped pass the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937.

1937 Marijuana Tax Act

The Marijuana Tax Act was passed in 1937 and essentially placed a tax on the sale of marijuana. Under the law, any persons who handled cannabis (marijuana or hemp) were required to register with the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and purchase a tax stamp. The act set to describe the parts of the plant that were regulated as well. For example, the seeds, resin, derivatives, and extracts were included as illegal.

Stalks, fiber from stalks, oil from sterilized seeds or any product made from stalks or fiber were excluded – therefore hemp seed oil and hemp clothing have never been a legal issue. The marijuana tax act mainly affected doctors and physicians who prescribed cannabis. It became a much more complicated, expensive and arduous process with more taxation than before.

The Marijuana Tax Act was enacted for approximately thirty years and over time eliminated legal hemp and cannabis cultivation. Eventually, the Marijuana Tax Act was replaced by Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970.

Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970

The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act was signed by President Nixon in 1970. Recreational drug usage became very popular in the 1960s. Congress set out to address some of the new drug concerns. The act replaced over 50 pieces of existing drug legislation.

The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 had two parts – Title II & Title III. The main purpose of the act was to provide treatment to drug abuse, research drug usage and required drugs to be closely monitored by pharmacies.

Title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act was known as the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). The CSA created a “drug schedule” based on medical usage and potential for drug abuse and dependence. The drug schedule was listed as:

  • Schedule 1 – Most dangerous and highest potential for abuse with no accepted mainstream medical usage such as heroin or LSD.
  • Schedule 2 – Dangerous and high potential for abuse such as cocaine, meth, and Oxytocin.
  • Schedule 3 – Moderate to lower potential for dependence such as Tylenol, Anabolic Steroids and Vicodin.
  • Schedule 4 – Low potential for abuse and dependence such as Xanax, Soma & Valium.
  • Schedule 5 – Least potential for abuse and dependence such as cough syrups.

The CSA effectively lumped both cannabis and hemp together categorized as a schedule 1 drug alongside ecstasy, LSD, and heroin. The government found cannabis and hemp to be highly addictive and offer no proven medical use. As of 2018, the plant remains illegal on a federal level, however, Cannabidiol (CBD Oil) sourced and cultivated legally carries unique criteria and is exempt.
Marijuana has now been individually (state) legalized both recreationally and medically as of 2018. Certain states only allow cannabis products that are low-THC, high CBD due to medical.
CBD or Cannabidiol carries different legalization much to the 2014 Farm Bill Act.

Is CBD Illegal?

2014 Farm Bill

The 2014 Farm Bill was signed by President Obama, which is a regulatory bill for the country’s food and agricultural policies. Section 7606 of the Bill defined the guidelines of hemp cultivation and/or Cannabidiol (CBD Oil) production. When asking if CBD is legal you need to understand the 2014 Farm Bill act as the answer is sometimes. For consumers or people seeking to buy legal CBD Oil online, it is vital to ensure your brand or provider has is legally supplying and distributing CBD Oil. Be careful your CBD Oil is not being imported overseas and repackaged or being grown by an independent farm without a pilot program. To understand more about which CBD is legal, these are good guidelines below:

  • Legal “Industrial Hemp” is considered to have a THC level below 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis – If you are purchasing CBD, it is illegal if it exceeds 0.3 percent THC. It’s strongly recommended to ask for lab tests to prove this if shopping online.
  • Cultivated under a state agricultural pilot program for research purposes -Most CBD that is legal comes from states such as; Colorado, Kentucky & Oregon as these states have been much more progressive in terms of governmental agencies working with farms.
  • Grown in accordance with section 7606 of the 2014 Farm Bill – When in doubt if your CBD is legal always inquire about this compliance as it is robust and only a small fraction of hemp farms are qualified and compliant.

Drug Code 7350

In December 2016 Congress announced new “Drug Code 7350” which classified all cannabinoids would be categorized as illegal schedule 1 drugs. CBD is just one cannabinoid in cannabis out of 480 other natural cannabinoids. This act was highly controversial to the 2014 Farm Bill Act which exempts industrial hemp (containing less than .03% THC). As a result, to this controversy, the Hemp Industries Association filed a federal lawsuit in January 2017.

2018 Farm Bill Act

The 2018 Farm Bill Act or the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 was a big win in the hemp industry. The bill was passed on passed by the Senate on December 11, 2018, and by the House on December 12. It was legislation that reauthorized many expenditures in the prior United States 2014 farm bill. It descheduled some prior cannabis products from the controlled substances act and made CBD oil one step closer to not being stigmatized the same as marijuana.


Cannabis and hemp have had a long history with governmental policies. A great deal of volatility with the plant’s legalities has caused it to be stigmatized and used in propaganda effectively. Today, as we stand the legality of the plant depends on many fine details such how your oil/product is being cultivated and extracted, if there is government involvement in the process, etc. If have you skipped over the section 2018 Farm Bill it is highly recommended to review those guidelines again to ensure your CBD Oil is indeed legal. Japa Organics CBD Oil is in fully legal and in compliance with section 7606 of the farm bill act. Please do contact us if you have any further question about our 100% legal CBD Oil.

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