Hemp for Victory is an educational film that was produced by the United States Department of Agriculture in 1942 with the obvious reason to encourage every farmer to plant and produce hemp to help the country.
“This film is designed to tell farmers how to handle this ancient crop, now little known outside of Kentucky and Wisconsin.”
The film starts out with emphasising how ‘indispensable’ hemp has been, it explains that it has been an invaluable resource throughout human history and now the US needs a lot of it.
“… but now with Philippine and East Indian sources of hemp in the hands of the Japanese… American hemp must meet the needs of our army and navy as well as of our industries.”
The Marijuana Tax Act made it prohibited to grow hemp just 5 years earlier, however, during World War II, the Allies got desperate enough not only to make hemp production legal again but to produce this short film to encourage ‘patriotic’ farmers to grow it.
“In 1942 patriotic farmers at our government’s request, planted 36,000 acres of seed hemp, an increase of several hundred percent. The goal for 1943 is 50,000 acres of seed hemp.”
The short film goes into length to educate farmers and even undo some of the damage from the propaganda that had been going on for a decade or so by then.
“The word ‘canvas’ comes from the Arabic word for hemp.”
The war created a desperate situation when the truth about hemp surfaced to encourage farmers to grow it, however, this encouragement changed back to punishment for growing hemp after the war ended.
Apparently, the government made serious efforts to cover up the video’s existence for quite a few years.
Hemp for Victory shows that the US government was clearly aware of the importance of hemp as a raw material and as soon as it had trouble sourcing it from overseas due to the war, they were ok with growing it locally and to talk about how important of a crop it has been throughout history.
The speculations about cannabis being prohibited due to its threat to the petrochemical and pharmaceutical industries are highly supported by the fact that when national security was on the line, hemp was acknowledged to be a wonder crop by the US government, however, before and after it was the devil’s weed.
The Popular Mechanics magazine featured an article about hemp in 1938, calling it the ‘new billion dollar crop’ and predicted a very bright future for hemp as the industry was catching up and large scale industrialised hemp production was becoming a reality.
However, larger powers at play ensured that cannabis stayed prohibited for the last 80 years and we are living in the time just now that sees the rebirth of the hemp and cannabis industries around the world.