Tennessee’s Hemp-Heavy History
The state of Tennessee has a rich past — and promising future — with the cash crop
Tennessee has been a hemp state for a lot longer than it hasn’t been one.
The versatile plant was already a major cash crop in the United States by the time Tennessee joined the union in 1796, and pioneer families who’d had success with it brought it across the Applachians from Virginia and the Carolinas. Producing hemp was critical at a time when ships were the primary conveyances of commerce, as its tough fibers are perfect for making sails and lines, and farmers could cash in with both government and private commercial supply contracts.
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