The Hempseed Conspiracy The Hemp Conspiracy In 1937 Popular Science magazine called hemp “The New Billion-Dollar Crop.” A machine that simplified the hemp papermaking process had just been invented. But the promise of hemp was never fulfilled. In the early 1930s one of the great media conspiracies of the twentieth century unfolded. Newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst, along with DuPont Corporation, a group of petroleum interests, the American cotton-growing lobby, international bankers, and a group of ignorant politicians, led a crusade to ban hemp. The Hearst family had acquired millions of acres of forestland that it intended to turn into paper for publishing and Pierre DuPont held patent rights to the sulfuric-acid, wood-pulp paper process. Also, in 1937 DuPont patented nylon rope (to replace hemp rope) made from synthetic petrochemicals. The petroleum industry did not want any competition from hemp rope, nor did they want to compete against inexpensive hempseed biodiesel fuel, so Hearst used his power as a publisher to sway public opinion about hemp and marijuana. With the help of U.S. Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon the United States Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act in 1937, which placed a prohibitive, elaborate set of rules around the growing, handling, and distributing of hemp. This was possible because marijuana is a subspecies of hemp known for its elevated psychoactive and medicinal THC content. A violation of any of the 1937 Tax Act rules would result in a penalty of up to $2,000 (in 1937 currency) or up to five years in prison. This legislation essentially ground the hemp production industry to a halt in America. Hemp was briefly legalized again during World War II. The United States government produced the film Hemp for Victory to encourage farmers to grow the crop. Nearly a million acres of hemp were grown in the Midwest to support the war effort. But hemp farming was shut down after the war. Then, due to pressure brought by the same special interests as before, came the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 that outlawed marijuana altogether and made little distinction between hemp and marijuana.