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Seeds of Innovation: Regrowing the Hemp Industry

Updated: Jan 28, 2019

Learn about the IHRF's important work to increase the body of knowledge and raise public awareness of the many known and potential applications of industrial hemp.

We are excited that the Industrial Hemp Research Foundation is the second guest author on the Hemp History Week blog. Read about their organization, their cutting-edge CBD research, and support them this Giving Tuesday!

Why Hemp?

Hemp shines a positive light on our world's environmental issues and can reduce our carbon footprint; giving a promise to our uncertain future. The textiles and building materials produced from its fibers can replace cotton and synthetic insulation as well as reducing deforestation. The number of jobs already being created in this fast-growing industry could end economic hardship in depressed urban and rural communities alike. Hemp produces some of the most nutritional foods such as non-dairy, gluten-free milk and high-protein hemp seed, which has a greater margin compared to other traditional commodity crops. Equally important, it supplies medicinal products that have demonstrated benefits to those suffering from an array of illnesses and physical ailments.


In 1535, hemp was so valuable to England that King Henry VIII passed an act obligating all landowners to sow a quarter-acre of hemp each year. By 1563, Queen Elizabeth ordered that all property holders with more than 60 acres must grow an acre of hemp, and in 1565 King Philip of Spain followed suit. This commodity crop was so valuable during this time our founding fathers, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, were hemp farmers. Before and during the Civil War, Kentucky was the largest hemp producer in North America and farmers were allowed to pay their taxes with their hemp crops. By 1850, hemp was the third-largest agricultural crop in North America. Farmers grew 400,000 acres of hemp under the War Hemp Industries, Inc., which amounted to 12,000 new jobs. In 1904, the Uniform State Narcotic Drug Act (USNDA) initiated the standardization of medicine and pharmacology, and transformed cannabis herbal remedies into commodities of the then nascent pharmaceutical industry. In 1908, Henry Ford made his first Model T with hemp and flax-fiber plastic, and it was fueled by hemp ethanol. But things took a turn for the worst in 1919 when American prohibitionists were successful in extensively taxing hemp crops to mitigate its further use. By 1937, America had passed the Marijuana Tax Act mandating a heavy-handed tax on farmers who grew cannabis, medical professionals who prescribed it, and industries who used it. Cannabis was then removed from the US Pharmacopeia as a plant medicine and was no longer allowed to be studied in medical schools. When World War II ended in 1945, the US government shut-down all hemp cultivation and processing. They denied this chapter of US history until the 1980s. The last commercial US hemp field was sown in 1957 until the passage of the 2014 Farm Bill, which states that hemp production is allowed as long as it is performed in conjunction with an accredited institution of higher education.

The Birth of the IHRF

During the infancy stages of the hemp industry, “there was no way to generate money and provide private support to institutions involved in hemp pilot programs in Colorado. There wasn’t a means for industry and institutions to partner together. So the IHRF was born to fill that need,” said IHRF President and Co-founder, David Bush. Thus, jump-starting a long overdue conversation with people, companies, and organizations within the hemp industry on their needs, and developing the necessary research in order to reverse the world’s perception on this misunderstood crop. The Industrial Hemp Research Foundation (IHRF) dedicates itself to supporting not only top-quality research at universities across America but bridging the gap between hemp pilot programs and private funding. By bringing hemp back to American soil, it will allow us to create vibrant, healthy communities full of sustainable, medicinal and economic opportunities.

A simple Google search produces hundreds of stories from individuals who have benefited from hemp-derived CBD (cannabidiol) and other cannabinoids that exist within this plant. From fighting chronic pain and potentially ending the opioid epidemic to stopping a child’s seizure within seconds to helping a soldier suffering from PTSD, the research existed long before the 2014 Farm Bill but without accredited institutions of higher learning being the authors of published research, much of these testimonies and results are overlooked. The IHRF is involved in developing programs at institutions in Colorado. Those programs are now being implemented in other states such as California, New York and Maine, and have been leading the pack since Colorado jump started this industry. These institutions have the capacity to service projects such as pilot crop insurance modeling, third-party marketing analysis, and industry standards and gradings that are needed to maintain the tremendous growth we have witnessed over the last several years. “Ultimately what these institutions can provide is an important component of the support structure that you would readily find for emerging commodities and markets.” said IHRF’s Executive Director, Tom Dermody. The IHRF has worked with CBDRx to develop a project called “Soma I” Project, based off the Soma Pill from Brave New World. Over the course of the project, researchers hope to add value to an ongoing conversation about whether hemp-derived CBD and other hemp phytochemicals could be used as a preventative measure and/or possible treatment for extreme anxiety and stress. The rodent model was developed in partnership with by the Department of Defense and respected within academia. It addresses a common topic heard in cannabis policy regarding the medicinal benefits of hemp CBD. Thus, providing a more thoughtful conversation concerning phytochemicals from hemp to investigate the possibility of using these products to treat a variety of illnesses. Due to the 80+ years of hemp prohibition, training programs are not provided at universities in our country. Northeastern Junior College (NJC) and the IHRF are in the process of developing an addendum to the NJC curriculum where students could acquire the skills to grow, process and market industrial hemp and derivatives thereof. The IHRF saw this as a key opportunity to investigate not only two of the biggest challenges in hemp; risk mitigation strategies for pollen transfer and the data aggregation necessary to support a federally backed crop insurance program.

Negotiations are ongoing and the IHRF feels confident in this project moving forward thus solving two critical infrastructure issues; insurance and technical training.

Giving Tuesday

The IHRF cannot continue to grow the body of knowledge around hemp and be the driving force of this re-emerging industry without you. The time is now to invest in and protect our future for generations to come. You can support its efforts by donating or becoming a member on Giving Tuesday. With your gift you will be supporting new research, development on innovative and existing hemp uses, and spreading education about the value and benefits this crop can bring to struggling economies, environments and communities throughout the United States. Since the IHRF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, your gift is 100% tax deductible.


The Industrial Hemp Research Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to not only supporting hemp related academic research at universities across America, but also bridging the gap between hemp pilot programs and private funding. With research driving education and change within our classrooms and courtrooms, the IHRF can provide the necessary support to bring hemp back to American soil and end prohibition of this valuable crop throughout the US. While working closely with U.S. universities and institutes, the IHRF assists hemp companies in getting their products into research programs. Questions regarding the Foundation can be directed to


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