That past includes a push by the federal government during World War II to encourage farmers to grow the plant, which is a variety of cannabis sativa. Five years after the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 made doing so all but illegal, the U.S. Department of Agriculture made a film called Hemp for Victory (on view below).
In it, a vintage-voiced narrator extols hemp as "the old standby cordage fiber." The nearly fourteen-minute film encourages farmers to grow the crop "as part of the war program" after the country's supply of imported fibers to make things such as ropes for ships and webbing for parachutes was cut off by the Japanese.
Jack Herer, the late author of the 1985 pro-hemp book The Emperor Wears No Clothes, is credited with discovering Hemp for Victory. Legend has it that Herer and friends found the film around 1989 in the Library of Congress archives after the federal government had denied its existence for years.
Below, watch Hemp for Victory, which is now widely available online. Also below is a video of Herer discussing his search for the film; that video also includes an excerpt from the 1936 anti-marijuana movie Reefer Madness.
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More from our Marijuana archives: "4/20: Why CU's going without fish fertilizer to stop pot rally, but still closing Boulder campus."Follow me on Twitter @MelanieAsmar or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org