Cannabis; More than just a trend?

2018 saw a boom in the sales of CBD related products which has resulted in a renewed interest in the benefits of cannabis and hemp. However the story of cannabis is not a straight forward one.


In 1789 hemp, a species of the cannabis plant, was the cash crop of the United States under George Washington’s presidency from 1789 to 1797. Grown by the President himself, as well as other farmers, it contributed heavily to the country’s GDP. At this point, hemp was the raw material for the production of paper, rope, fabric.

In 1892 Rudolph Diesel invented the diesel engine, which he intended to power "by a variety of fuels”, including filtered hemp oil.

In 1937, however, the West’s view of Cannabis was about to change. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s introduced the ‘Marihuana Tax Act of 1937’ in the United States, which levied a large tax on anyone who dealt commercially in cannabis, hemp, or marijuana.

Businessmen Andrew Mellon, Randolph Hearst and the Du Pont family were major players in the passing of the act, all with business interests that hemp was threatening to damage.

  • Hearst
    • Owner of the biggest newspaper publishing house and media company in the US, also an owner of vast numbers of timber holdings
    • Pulp from the timber holdings was used to create paper that his newspapers were printed on
    • With the invention of the decorticator, hemp produced a superior paper that could be produced far cheaper than paper made with pulp wood
  • Du Pont Family
    • One of the richest families in the US
    • Developers of a new synthetic fibre, nylon
    • Developers of petrochemicals… the basis of plastic
    • Hemp was used to create fabric and plastic, thus was a direct competitor
  • Mellon
    • Secretary of the Treasury and the wealthiest man in the US
    • Had invested heavily in the Du Pont family's nylon

At the same time as implementing the tax, Franklin D. Roosevelt implemented the Uniform Narcotic Act which placed huge restrictions on the use of cannabis. This was opposed by The American Medical Association (AMA). Dr. William Creighton Woodward, legislative counsel for the AMA at the time objected to the bill on the grounds that “the bill had been prepared in secret without giving proper time to prepare their opposition to the bill.” Further, he did not agree with their claims regarding marijuana addiction, violence, and overdosage. The fundamental issue with the bill however was that it referenced ‘Marijuana’, not cannabis. Medical professionals at the time had not heard of the term ‘Marijuana’ and so did not realise they were losing cannabis.

In 1941 Henry Ford completed the creation of an all-plastic car, with plastic derived from plant compounds including hemp. It was 300lbs lighter than comparable models built of steel. It was reported to have ten times the impact resistance of steel. However, with the decline in the hemp and cannabis industries, research had to stop.


The public and legislative view on Cannabis is softening. We have seen legalisation of Cannabis in the following states in America, giving hope to Cannabis advocates that the UK will soon follow suit:

1996- California

2012- Colorado

2012- Washington

2015 – Oregon

2015- Alaska

2016- Massachusetts

2017- Nevada

2018- Vermont

Further, Cannabis is now being taken seriously for its medicinal values. In 2015, the US government put $21 million dollars towards therapeutic cannabinoid research. In 2016, this amount increased to nearly $31 million and continues to rise. Almost half of this funding went towards studying CBD. Tel Aviv, Israel is also pushing forward the advancement of research into the benefits of cannabis, particularly with regards to Parkinson’s disease, cancer treatment.

Globally, the mainstream beauty market has also taken an interest in the benefits of Cannabis and CBD and beauty brands have incorporated CBD into their products.

So, yes, CBD and cannabis is experiencing a resurgence and yes, they are both very on trend right now, but this is just the start. The future of CBD is looking strong- we are about to see Cannabis become a whole lot more sophisticated.