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As early as the mid-1700s, mariners recognized the quality and durability of Kentucky grown hemp for use in cordage and coarse canvas required in sailing ships. In fact, the hemp that was produced in this region was considered the best in the world and sold at a premium. This continued through the late 19th Century until the invention of new technology and international production which caused a slow decline in U.S. production.
U.S. Hemp production continued to decline beginning in the late 1800s and continued through the early 20th Century. This was due to pressure from foreign producers, mainly the Philippines. This decline was exacerbated with the invention of steamships which replaced most of the sailing frigates, shortening the duration and lowering the cost of transit. The fatal blow to U.S. based hemp production was the implementation of the Marijuana Tax Act in 1937; which effectively prohibited all production in an attempt to curtail Marijuana use.