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Hemp for Victory is a film made by the United States during the World War II. It was released in 1942, in black and white, and touts the virtues of hemp. This propaganda film aims to encourage farmers to grow hemp as much as possible. During this time, the military was facing a huge shortage on hemp, which they process into rope and other products.
During the Second World War, the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 – which was an act to impose occupational excise and transfer tax in certain dealers and dealings of marijuana – was briefly lifted to allow for the production of hemp fiber to make ropes for the United States Navy. Later on, though, after the way, hemp was reverted back to its de facto illegal status.
The film was made to urge farmers to grow hemp during the war effort because the country’s other industrial fibers, which are usually imported from abroad, were in short supply. In the film, an extensive history of hemp and hemp products was shown, along with information on how it is grown, and how it is processed into rope, cordage, cloth and other products.
Before the year 1989, this film was relatively unknown. In fact, the United States government has denied making such kind of film. The Library of Congress and the US Department of Agriculture told all interested parties that the USDA or any branch of the government never many such kind of film. But in May 1989, two VHS copies were recovered and later on donated to the Library of Congress by Jack Here, Carl Packard and Marie Farrow.
The only known copy in the year 1976 was a broadcast quality copy of the film originally obtained by William Condein. He got a hold of it the same year from a Miami Herald reporter and the Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church of Jamaica during the 1984 Oregon Marijuana Initiative, given in trust that it will be made available to as much audience as possible. This film can now be viewed in various locations on the web.
In July 1989, Jack Herer and Chris Wright from the Grassroots Party attempted to get a hold of the copy of the film from the National Archives where it was listed. However, the curators cannot locate the film. Consequently, in May 1990, The Institute for Hemp Founder John Birrenbachwas able to recover a copy of the film from the National Archives.
Hemp for Victory was a two-part film. The first section was six minutes and 46 seconds long, while the second part is 7 minutes and 16 seconds long. Together, the film is approximately 15 minutes long and detailed the cultivation of marijuana for fiber. This is the first ever recovery of the film from a government source, which can now be downloaded from the National Archives.
The film was produced by the United States Department of Agriculture, and contains scenes from the Old Ironsides, a silent film from 1926. It is public domain and is freely offered for download in the Internet Archive. The film and various clips shown in it were referenced in an episode in the show 10 Things You Don’t Know About.
The title Hemp for Victory was also named on a book about hemp. It was published by Whitaker Press in London and is the work of various authors who are active in the world of Hemp, including Sam Heslop, Mina Hegaard, Kenyon Gibson, Woody Harrelson, Nick Mackintosh and Cindy Mackintosh.
In 2008, UK-based production houses made efforts to make a sequel of the movie. It is made into a series of three short films, each lasting for 60 minutes. The first part stars Jack Herer and David Hayman, while the second one had Andrea Hermann and Steve Levine. It did not have a full official release, but was released in 2012 as a remake in select locations.