by Ted Smith
One of the most important figures in American hemp history is Lyster Dewey.
His efforts to revitalize hemp brought a new wave of interest in the plant at the turn of the 20th century. Farmers and industrialists alike were drawn to his vision.
As the person in charge of the USA Department of Agriculture, Lyster was keenly aware of the problems faced by farmers and was constantly seeking new opportunities to improve profitability and efficiencies.
Starting in 1912, he put a great deal of effort into forming a hemp seed plasm, a collection of strains from around the world. Until that point American farmers had not developed many of their own unique strains of hemp, relying mostly upon Chinese varieties.
In 1913, the USA Department of Agriculture Annual Report contained an in-depth overview of the hemp industry, seeking to encourage more farmers to plant. Though labor costs were prohibitive, Dewey knew that machinery would be soon made to dramatically improve production inefficiencies. When the department published Bulletin #404 in 1916 it seemed the future of hemp was secure.
If you are interested in reading the reports, they are both included as references in HEMP TODAY, edited by Ed Rosenthal. That book is an excellent collection of articles and essays written about the history and uses of hemp. For the complete picture, though, you really need to buy my book, HEMPOLOGY 101: THE HISTORY AND USES OF CANNABIS SATIVA