Hemp Once Grown Around Lexington To Support War

Hemp Once Grown Around Lexington To Support War
Posted by CN Staff on June 23, 2007 at 20:46:40 PT
By Bill Steinbacher-Kemp
Source: Pantagraph
Lexington, KY -- In the summer of 1943, there were more than 4,000 acres of marijuana being grown around Lexington. The buyer for this crop, though, wasn’t some downstate gangster or crime syndicate. No, in this instance, the buyer was none other than Uncle Sam.During World War II, industrial hemp, a variant of marijuana which contains lower levels of the psychoactive ingredient THC, was used to make rope and other items, such as parachutes, harnesses and shroud lines for airborne troops.
Hemp has been around for a long time. Although not as valuable as other fiber crops such as flax, the long, soft fibers of hemp were put to good use by early pioneers to fashion myriad items, from twine to coarse fabrics. In the early 1900s, Kentucky was the center of U.S. hemp production, though there were several other areas where it was still commercially grown, including northern Champaign County.The domestic market eventually bottomed out, only to revive during World War II. When the Philippine Islands fell to the Japanese, the U.S. lost its leading supplier of hemp. In response, the federal government built 42 hemp mills in rural Middle America, including one in Lexington, with each mill processing locally grown (and legal) hemp.Of course, marijuana was not always welcomed in Central Illinois. In August 1938, McLean County Sheriff Elmer G. Swearingen declared war on “dope weed” when he found patches of the pungent stuff growing on many farms. The Pantagraph informed its readers that smoking pot led to “delusions of grandeur, hysteria, melancholy, etc.” And Swearingen warned that livestock that grazed on marijuana became “stark crazy.”By the middle of World War II, the war on marijuana was long forgotten. Many farmers embraced the industrial hemp program as a patriotic duty, with one representative of the local Agriculture Adjustment Association suggesting the propaganda slogan, “Hemp to Hand Hitler.”Construction of the mill, located on the southeast side of the Lexington, began in July 1943. Other hemp mills in Illinois were built in Galesburg, Minonk, Shabbona, and a half-dozen other downstate communities. From the start, the federal government financed and directed the hemp industry.Out in the fields, farmers cultivated hemp to reach a uniform height of seven to 10 feet, with stalks no thicker than a lead pencil. In 1943, about 235 Lexington-area farmers raised a total of 4,000-plus acres of hemp. By 1944, with slackening demand, the local crop was down to about 2,000 acres.In the late summer, special machines cut and tied the hemp, which was then left on the ground in windrows for two to eight weeks. This “retting” process loosened the woody outer covering of the stalk. Farmers then brought their hemp “straw” to the mill, where it remained stacked outside to “season” over the winter months.Once in the mill, the hemp was dried, the stalks broken, and the fiber combed, softened, twisted into hanks, baled, and finally shipped to cordage mills and elsewhere.As predicted, hemp proved little more than a “war baby,” a term for an industry wholly dependent on the peculiar economics of wartime. The Lexington mill closed in 1945.It eventually reopened as a seed corn plant, and over the years, occupants included Tomahawk, Cargill and other seed companies. Today, the mill is used as a seed equipment sales office.Although area farmers converted their hemp fields into pasture and cropland, rumors persisted of “pot” plants aplenty in northern McLean County. And, or so it’s said, “sightseeing” along these county roads became a popular pastime with college kids in the late 1960s. Note: Bill Steinbacher-Kemp, Archivist/Librarian McLean County Museum of HistorySource: Pantagraph, The (Bloomington, IL)Author: Bill Steinbacher-KempPublished: Saturday, June 23, 2007 Copyright: 2007 Pantagraph Publishing Co.Contact: letters pantagraph.comWebsite: Hemp Archives
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help

Comment #15 posted by whig on June 27, 2007 at 12:26:40 PT
Starving people
If they were permitted to grow their own hemp for food, what climate does it not grow in?
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #14 posted by whig on June 27, 2007 at 12:24:49 PT
Most of it is sugar. It's not really that nutritious compared to hemp.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #13 posted by afterburner on June 26, 2007 at 22:13:29 PT
josephlacerenza - More Corn vs. Hemp
Price of survival,
Winnipeg Free Press,
(Jun 26, 2007) {
The international effort to substitute fossil fuels, such as gasoline, with biofuels, such as ethanol, is being accompanied by a steady rise in the price of food, as crops are diverted from the kitchen table into the gas tanks of automobiles. It is estimated that within five years, almost one-third of the North American corn harvest will be used to produce ethanol, rather than food. The prices for crops such as corn, wheat and rice are at 10-year highs. And as some others point out, this trend is not likely to reverse any time soon. ...The biofuel we use to drive to the supermarket can't be used as food aid to Africa. The spike in the price of corn used to produce ethanol will mean higher prices for chicken, turkey, pork, milk and eggs and, as wheat and rice and other food crops are substituted for the corn that goes into gas tanks, the price of other foods as well -- perhaps, even, resulting in a $12 box of cornflakes.
}Hemp 4 Fuel. Get a clue, ONDCP & DEA!
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #12 posted by whig on June 25, 2007 at 22:06:11 PT
So did the Bible.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #11 posted by afterburner on June 25, 2007 at 21:59:23 PT
Let them eat both: corn and hemp. Hemp seeds, like other seeds, complement grain. Tortilla flour, as you may know, is treated with lime water to increase intake of nutrition. Hemp seeds, of course, have a very good balance of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids, in addition to amino acids which complement the amino acids found in grain.BTW, the rastas use the word "corn" as a euphemism for cannabis.Peace.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #10 posted by josephlacerenza on June 25, 2007 at 11:05:11 PT:
Hemp is good food
Hemp is nutritionally superior to corn. I see your point. Hemp can be used for both ethanol and biodiesel. The seed can be crushed for biodiesel with out detriment to its nutritional content. I understand that corn is a traditional food stuff for the Hispanic, but I would like to see a more nutritious crop consumed for sustenance. 
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #9 posted by josephlacerenza on June 25, 2007 at 10:58:49 PT:
Hemp, The true one stop shop!
Any product that can be produced from hydrocarbons can be derived from carbohydrates.
One hemp plant can yield fiber, fuel, food, and pharmaceuticals. These products are from separate parts of the plant and not from different crops. Ask yourself who has the biggest stake in seeing the hemp industry stagnant for another 70 years. You will discover more corporations than you can shake a stick at!!
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #8 posted by afterburner on June 24, 2007 at 22:32:40 PT
Please Grow Hemp for Fuel & Let People *Eat* Corn
Corn wars rage in Mexico: Biofuels push key source of cheap nutrition out of reach, by Jerome Taylor, - CanadaWorld - 23 Jun 2007
"In late January this year Mexico was ablaze. Just two months after the election of Felipe Calderon as Mexico's new president protests had broken out across the country."Thousands of people were marching on the main cities calling on their the pro-free trade businessman president to halt a phenomenon threatening the lives of millions of Mexicans. In their hands the protesters clutched cobs of corn, the staple crop that makes tortillas and for many of Mexico's poor the only source of calorific sustenance in an otherwise nutritionally sparse diet."Over the past three months the price of corn flour had risen 400%."more...
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #7 posted by afterburner on June 24, 2007 at 22:15:21 PT
The House That Hemp Built
CN BC: The House That Hemp Built:
Scarcity Of Straw Bales Leads Couple To Use Tough Cannabis Fibres To Fill Their Walls, Calgary Herald, (23 Jun 2007)
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #6 posted by The GCW on June 24, 2007 at 22:05:10 PT
The 1943 Steel Penny
At the same time the US allowed farmers to grow hemp for the war effort America needed to use its resourse of copper better to survive and so made the 1943 penny out of steel instead of copper.Magnets stick to 1943 steel pennies but not copper pennies.Now, in 2007, We may again be approaching a need to use Our resources better and may need to reconsider using hemp again for survival.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #5 posted by Hope on June 24, 2007 at 12:11:40 PT
I love old encylopedias. I have a set from 1927. I need to go check what they had to say about hemp. They're stored it might be awhile before I get to them.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #4 posted by HempWorld on June 24, 2007 at 11:09:24 PT
As it is now in Canada and other countries, hemp
is just a another crop. Despite all the hoopla and phony arguments and 'drug' focus from the DEA in the United States. This is the same country, by the way, that put the first man on the moon! How can this be? Through federalism where money decides and makes law. How counter productive it has been! Now we have the war on terror, which to me, seems like the war on drugs on steroids or crystal meth. (which it actually literally is as well) Kudos to and those two incredibly brave American Patriots (in the true sense of the word) to challenge the DEA. The people have no power whatsoever and there is no rhyme nor reason except special interests. Kudos to the first 3 posts.
Nobody can stop this!
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #3 posted by potpal on June 24, 2007 at 10:10:14 PT
Hemp R Us
Hemp had influenced whole communities to such an extent that they incorporated it into their name!!! Not to leave out, the thousands of people who share its name! (Hemple, Hemphill, Hemp)... I've often wondered what kind of symbol, thinking they use a palm tree in Palm Beach, the Hempfield PD incorporates into their official snazzy arm patch.Hempwallace, AR 
Hemp Swamp Brook, CT 
Hempstead Brook, CT 
Hemp Key, FL 
Hemp, GA 
Hemp Factory Branch, IL 
Hemp Ridge, KY
Hemphill, KY
Hemphill, LA 
Hempfield Lake, MI 
Hemphill Lake, MN 
Hemple, MO 
Hemp Hill, NH 
Hempstead, NY, Nassau
Hempstead, NY, Rockland 
Hempstead Gardens, NY
Hemp Patch Branch, NC 
Hemphill Bald, NC,
Hemphill Creek, NC 
Hemphill Knob, NC 
Hempfield, PA,
Hemp Branch, SC 
Hemphill Lake, SC 
Hemp Fork, VA
Hemphill, TX 
Hempstead, TX 
Hemp Mill Branch, VA
Hemppatch Branch, VA 
Hemppatch Mountain, VA 
Hemp Hill Creek, WA
Hempel Creek, WA
Hempel Lake, WA 
Hemphill, WV 
Hempton Lake, WI 
Weed, CA 
Weed, NM 
Weed, AR 
Weed, KYProhibition is the crime.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #2 posted by John Tyler on June 24, 2007 at 07:28:32 PT
once it was just a crop
My parents had a set of encyclopedias from 1948 that had an article about cannabis that listed the states where cannabis was a large crop, with crop totals etc. There were no negative editorial comments. It just stated where it was grown, how much, and the economic value. 
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #1 posted by MikeEEEEE on June 24, 2007 at 07:26:33 PT
Plastic$ and oil Indu$try
One word from the Graduate: "Plastics"Not strange that plastics come from the petroleum industry."Neo, the matrix has you."
[ Post Comment ]

Post Comment