Hemp for victory film

Why Did the ‘Hemp For Victory’ Film Disappear?

How the US hid all evidence of the film after WWII

As World War II was taking place, there was a huge need for hemp by Allies and the U.S decided to actually reverse their stand as far as the plant was concerned, they went ahead to encourage farmers to actually cultivate it. After the war was over, they worked on erasing any records of this ever happening.

Most people are currently rediscovering the advantages that come with hemp as far as health is concerned in Cannabidiol, and as a raw component in lots of its products. Very few people have the background of hemp and the history it holds in the United States, both as a crop for sale as well as the how far the government has gone in trying to suppress and bury this history.

A great example is “Hemp For Victory”, a film that was produced in 1942 by USDA which was aimed at encouraging farmers to cultivate hemp. When the war was over and hemp was illegalized, the film was kept out of the public eye for so many years and it was only brought back after those advocating for cannabis insisted that the government brings it back.

The story that this film highlighted cement the truth of hemp being a crucial part of America at one point and this could still become the case if laws could allow for its legalization.

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Hemp farmers on the field

Hemp and cannabis were a big part of everyday lives of Americans before they were declared illegal, alcohol had also been prohibited around this time. People used hemp for medicinal using products such as  CBD oil, production of clothes and ropes and it goes all the way back to when colonies started in America. The earliest Independence Declaration drafts were actually written on paper made from hemp although the documented current version in on parchment.

It is likely that cannabis that could actually be smoked came to the U.S at the beginning of the 20th century (this is commonly referred to as marijuana whose origins maybe imports that were made through Mexico) cannabis tinctures, however, had been used a century before and could be found in stores that sold drugs. For a short period of time, Turkish smoking parlors had become a thing, especially in Upper class of the society.

This however changed once the crackdown on drugs commenced. Just as the prohibition on alcohol came to an end, law enforcement agencies in the 1930’s that had targeted the smuggling of booze started doing the same for cannabis. Hemp was not left behind as it was also demonized during the crackdown- this lasted until the United States military experienced a shortage during wartime a few decades later in the second world war.


A long time ago, at the height of Grecian temples’ popularity, hemp had already served mankind for long. For more than a thousand years, the Chinese and other Easterners cultivated the plant for purposes of cordage as well as clothing. For many centuries before 1850, ships sailing on the seas on the West had hemp ropes as well as sails. Sailors, as well as the hangman, found hemp to be something they could not do without.

“Hemp For Victory” remains to be quiet fascinating, not just for its origin and cover-up by the government, but also because of the content highlighted in the film. In about thirteen minutes, producers give the history and the truths surrounding hemp and especially those that are not shared in textbooks. Hemp initially was an integral part of the our culture as humans there are lots of acres that hemp is grown across the globe to this day.

It is rather astonishing how an agency of the government would change its central drug policy from a complete ban of a drug to encouraging farmers to grow the same, only to start a crackdown on the drug a decade later.

As outlined in the film, the American culture with regards to hemp reduced but the cause of this was a combination of prohibiting the drug as well as cheap fiber imports according to the USDA. That said, during the war, imported hemp was also very limited.

The film explains that East Indian and Philippine sources that produced hemp were actually under the control of Japan, and imports of jute specifically from India had been restricted.
Campaigns to encourage the growth of hemp had already begun.

At the request of the government in 1942, farmers nationwide planted 36000 acres of seed hemp which was a rise of about 1000%. By 1943, the aim was to have about 50,000 acres with seed hemp. As the second world war ended, imported hemp was availed once again and the film was hidden from the public by the government.


Activists Force Them to Admit “Hemp For Victory” Exists

Currently, the film is available in the country’s national archive and can be located using ‘1682’ as its record number. Though this had been hidden even from records that the government kept just after the war ended, and from the archives. Colleges had been requested by USDA to do away with the film including removal from libraries.

For so many decades, this remained a top secret until cannabis advocates inclusive of Jack Herer, a hemp expert, were given copies of the film on VHS. In 1989, several cannabis activists, Jack Herer being one of them, discovered or perhaps were given few copies of “Hemp For Victory” on VHS after decades of obscurity. In as much as this film originated from the government, inquiries directed at the Library of Congress from USDA, got no substantial response. As seen below, this is a typical answer a government official gave which is quoted in “The Great Book Of Hemp”:

After contacting the Department of Agriculture in Washington, DC as well as the Federal Audio Center, there was no trace of a film by the name “Hemp For Victory” which also happens to have been produced by a federal government department.

Attempts by Herer to search for this film in the National Archives were unsuccessful. However, May 1990 brought some success , John Birrenbach who was a researcher for hemp got an answer from one archivist that was different, it indicated there were reels of what was the original film. He parted with a fee and obtained a copy of the film’s official government videocassette, this proved to be the film made by the USDA. From his site, one can actually see the VHS box cover, The Institute For Cannabis.


Getting a hold of this film as well as the steps that Herer and Birrenbach made, has helped people living in America today to unravel the potential that hemp holds.

Currently, the majority of hemp comes as an import from abroad. This at times becomes a problem as far as quality and the purity of extracts from CBD and hemp are concerned. That said, there are great organic sources that are available. Hemp is now cultivated in the United States, mainly because of the progress that is being made towards legalization.

Though there have been threats by the government, about more than half of the states have enacted laws allowing the growing of cannabis as well as hemp in programs as highlighted by the 2014 Farm Bill.

Farmers based in the US at one point contributed to the victory experienced by the country and her friends ia n second world war. In the near future, hemp and its potential may stand for a similar victory across the globe


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