Hemp for Victory?

Recently, there has been some hemp controversy in both the Air Force and Army. The issue has arisen over the use hemp seeds in a popular type of protein bar.

Hemp for victory

The protein bar currently causing controversy

Kind fruit and nut bars are a healthy and popular snack.  With 10g of protein each, the company’s new line of protein bars are a great post-workout recovery, or early morning boost.  However, Army regulation 600-85 para 4-2, (p) states that, “…Soldiers are prohibited from using Hemp or products containing Hemp oil.” And the “…Violations of paragraph 4-2 (p) may subject offenders to punishment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice and or administrative action.”  There have been concerns that soldiers will fail drug tests if they consume this product, which would incite the aforementioned punitive action. There has been enough concern that the Army and Air Force are issuing warnings and publishing stories in their respective newspapers regarding the snack.

This is somewhat ironic considering the history of hemp in the United States military. During WWII there was a famous propaganda film called Hemp for Victoryin which the government asked people to grow and harvest hemp for military applications.  The film was produced after the marijuana tax act in 1937 – in other words, hemp was already “illegal.”

The potential utility of hemp in the war effort, and the need for raw materials inspired the government to create a licensing program that allowed farmers to grow hemp legally.  With Hemp for Victory The government encouraged farmers to take advantage of the program so they could meet the goals laid out for hemp production.

Hemp for Victory...again

Stamp issued to farmers growing hemp during WWII

The film itself is very well-made (for the time) and is very informative. It opens with a shot of ancient Greek ruins and states that “…When these ancient Grecian temples were new, hemp was already old in the service of mankind.” The movie then tells the more recent history of hemp in the United States and world.  Stating that before 1850 “…Most sailing ships in the western hemisphere were outfitted with hemp sails and ropes.”  Specifically telling of the United States’ most famous warship:  The U.S.S. Constitution, or “old ironsides” as it was affectionately known.  The ship required a full 60 tons of hemp-based materials to outfit it’s rigging and sails.

As stated in the film in 1942 American farmers planted 36,000 acres of seed hemp and 14,000 acres of fiber hemp.  The goal was to increase those numbers to 50,000 and 300,000 acres respectively. The reason these goals were set so high was the vital need for

hemp for victory

Hemp for Victory title card

the finished hemp products which included: twine, rope (34,000 feet per naval vessel), fire-hose, canvas, parachute webbing and thread–among other essential products.

What a difference 75 years makes.  In the early ‘40’s the United States government was giving farmers directions on how to grow hemp, today they are warning soldiers against accidentally ingesting hemp seeds.  Both armed forces day and Memorial day are in May so it would be fitting to remember the role hemp played in our military history. From the rigging of old ironsides, to Hemp for Victory and the war effort – we find hemp.

Hemp for Victory stated that hemp was making a comeback in 1942, Hempmeds is working on making it have another comeback today.

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