How Indian Tribes are Using Hemp to Boost the Economy

How Indian Tribes are Using Hemp to Boost the Economy

The cannabis industry has become larger than life in only two decades. Most consumers and businesses have THC and CBD to thank for the advancement of the cannabis industry. However, industrial hemp has also served as an integral piece to the success of the industry. Now, American Indians will finally get to reap the benefits of something they’ve known about for generations. Here is how hemp cultivation and consumerism will help improve the economy for a variety of American Indian tribes.

History of hemp cultivation

Before our ancestors cultivated cannabis for its hemp properties, the plant was originally used for its medicinal properties.  Cannabis has been around as early as 3000 B.C. The legendary Emperor Fu Hsi is often credited for introducing cannabis to the masses. Fu Hsi believed that cannabis embodied both yin and yang qualities. During this time, cannabis was used for medicinal purposes. 

Cannabis, which was referred to as ‘Ma” during its early discovery, was utilized as a medicated tea. There is also evidence of cannabis being used by Pharaohs during the times of Ancient Egypt. The popularity of cannabis during this time would grow widespread and spread into the upcoming centuries.  Additionally, Hemp is believed to be the oldest example of human industry. During the Sung Dynasty around 550 AD, there is a reference to the Emperor known as Shen Nung, who taught his citizens how to cultivate hemp for cloth. It is also believed that hemp made its way to Europe in or around 1,100 BC.

Hemp cultivation in the mid-2010s

Under the laws set by the 2014 Farm Bill, farmers have been granted the ability to grow crops for limited hemp research initiatives. However, thanks to a new adaptation of the huge agriculture legislation passed and signed into law during the 2018 legislative season, the plant’s industrial appeal, hemp,  is now officially legal under federal legislation. However, farmers must comply with meticulous legislation that has been outlined by their state respectively. 

The figures of hemp cultivations since 2018

Additionally, farmers operating in the United States have been licensed to grow approximately 500,000 acres of Hemp. This is a 450 % increase than the years prior. Specifically, it is upward from over 79,000 acres grown in 2018, 26,000  acres in 2017, and an additional 11,000 acres in 2016. Since the passing of the 2014 Farm Bill, a total of over 17,000 state licenses to cultivate cannabis industrially via hemp were issued to farmers as well as researchers during 2019. This is a 470 % increase compared to 2018.  Moreover, there was a 490 % annual spike in hemp processing licenses issued this year.

How Indian tribes are benefiting from the industrialization of hemp

Some CBD manufacturers have designed or are currently working to install supply-chain partnerships with Indian tribes. These efforts are performed in hopes of providing fair trade and a sustainable wage impact on the economic opportunities once deemed unavailable for American Indians. Statistically, there are a multitude of American Indian tribes that suffer from a lack of economic resources and opportunities. Industrial hemp cultivation and consumerism may be necessary. 

The problem hindering the advancement of the Indian-Hemp market

The major problem that conflicts with furthering the aforementioned ideas of this piece is the lack of trust American Indians have for corporate entities. Moreover, American Indians are rightfully standoffish; there have been millions of Indians throughout history who have been wronged, swindled, and killed as a result of a business decision. These tribes are not looking to make the same mistakes as their ancestors. Cannabis companies have been rightfully delicate with mending the olive branch. Despite these drawbacks, there have been a handful of companies who have built the appropriate relationships with tribes to further the success of their business as well as the economy of the partnering tribe.

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