By Wendy Koch, National Geographic
The Declaration of Independence was drafted on paper made from it. Henry Ford built car parts with it. George Washington grew it. Now, as more farmers are allowed to harvest this multi-purpose plant, hemp might see a new heyday—in homes.
The United States is rolling out a come-back mat for an ancient leaf that was widely used from Colonial times through World War II but fell into anti-drug disfavor. Its 2014 farm bill permits limited growing of hemp, the non-psychoactive cousin of the same cannabis plant that produces marijuana.
Hemp backers see potential boom times ahead. Buoyed by influential bi-partisan supporters, including GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, farmers are aiming to put down seed. Builders are hoping those crops lower the cost of hemp fiber, used to make non-toxic, energy-efficient insulation.