The Heyday of Hemp in MinnesotaDana OV
The Heyday of Hemp in Minnesota
Historically as with most states, Minnesota has had an up and down relationship with hemp. But, it’s not really our fault. In fact, in the early 1900’s cannabis was almost completely unregulated and was a cash crop for many mid western farmers. It was in 1937 that the Marijuana Tax Act was enacted which unofficially banned marijuana by imposing strict regulations and taxes for producers and handlers on every sale. From there, the production and sale of cannabis products came to a halt as farmers struggled to get their products into reliable markets.
After the Japanese cut off the American supply of reliable Philippine hemp, the government once again began to see the benefits of producing hemp fibre on American soil. With the war effort in full swing, the growing need for rope, cloth and cord was apparent. In less than 5 years, the nation’s perception and social morality surrounding hemp changed as the value of hemp superseded the political agenda of the day. Surprise, Surprise. The government agreed to construct 42 hemp processing plants because of the high demands; 11 ended up in Minnesota. Minnesota welcomed the change with open arms. Considering Minnesota grew hemp so widely before, the war demand brought some stability to an otherwise volatile market. The boom in hemp production created 1,100 new jobs within the state. Alas, it was a short lived boom. By 1957, the federal government once again banned hemp production completely.
The 70’s, A New Era, But Not In a Good Way
With the 70’s came a new war; the war on drugs. It was in this year that U.S. congress passed the Controlled Substance Act, classifying marijuana as a Scheduled 1 banned substance. Which, if you aren’t sure, is in the same category as heroin. However, in 1976 a short-lived wave of decriminalization was taking place in the country and things began to look up for our humble weed. It was at this time Minnesota took some promising steps, reducing the penalty for possession for 42.5 grams (1+1⁄2 oz) or less down to a petty misdemeanor. Every year since 1976 legislators have proposed new legislation in Minnesota, but big changes didn’t start to occur until 2014.
In 2014, Minnesota become the 22nd state to legalize the use of medical marijuana, although it remains heavily controlled. Only patients with certain ailments could qualify for a synthesized form of cannabis consisting of oils, pills or vapor. In 2016, the the Medical Cannabis Review Panel was created to hear any and all petitions for additions to the list of qualifying medical conditions. The department accepts petitions annually from June 1 to July 31 and their findings and recommendations must be submitted to the Commissioner of Health by November 1st each year. It is then up to The Commissioner to either approve or reject a condition addition by December 1st. The list is slowly growing.
2018 U.S. Farm Bill to Save the Day… or Will It?
In so many ways the introduction of the Farm Bill has suggested the tide is turning the face of strict marijuana legislation. It has opened the door for industrial hemp production. Again, not without its regulations but it feels like we’re starting to get somewhere. Unlike the need for fibers brought on by WWII, there are new and lucrative reasons to grow industrial hemp; namely CBD and Delta 8 THC. With the mounting evidence supporting the many health benefits of cannabinoids derived from hemp and CBD growing in popularity. Hemp production is definitely back as a cash crop. Now, in Minnesota, you can even apply for a license to grow industrial hemp. As you may have guessed, the Farm Bill regulations are tough but fair. As of April 2021, all signs point to at least some kind of legalization of recreational marijuana in Minnesota. Honestly, as our history shows, it’s been a long time coming.