In the 1700s, American farmers were required by law to grow hemp in Virginia and the other colonies. It was a widely used crop for hundreds of years in the United States. Cut to 1957 when hemp is last grown in the U.S. over confusion about its relationship to marijuana, and the plant from which the paper for The Declaration of Independence was rumored to be sourced was gone from America's soil.

Until now.

Back in May, Springfield, Colo. farmer Ryan Loflin planted 55 acres of hemp -- the first hemp crop planted in the U.S. in nearly 60 years. Last week, Loflin and others harvested the historic hemp plants by hand as advocates watched on, Westword reported.

The passage of Amendment 64 in Colorado last November, which famously legalized marijuana for recreational use by adults, also allows for the commercial growing of hemp.

And now that Attorney General Eric Holder recently announced that the Department of Justice will allow Colorado's new marijuana laws to go into effect, this harvest may be the symbolic first that restarts a once-booming American industry, if other farmers choose to follow Loflin's lead.

"This is monumental for our industry," said Bruce Perlowin, chief executive of Hemp Inc., to The Denver Post back when Loflin first planted his crop. "It will unlock a clean industrial revolution that will be good for the economy, good for jobs and good for the environment."

Hemp is a genetic "cousin" to marijuana, but contains little to none of the THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana associated with the "high" sensation. And although hemp hasn't been grown domestically for decades, in 1998 the U.S. began to import food-grade hemp seed and oil for various uses.

The Colorado Department of Agriculture is still working on rules for registering hemp farmers and hopes to have them in place by early 2014. Back in May -- the same month Loflin began planting hemp seeds -- Colorado Deputy Commissioner of Agriculture Ron Carleton clarified that although A64 had passed, it did not authorize the cultivation of hemp in Colorado until those rules were in place.

“The General Assembly, with SB13-241, has made it clear that cultivation, for either commercial or research and development purposes, is not authorized unless the prospective grower first registers with the Department," Carleton said in a statement. "That will not be possible until early 2014 as we do not expect the registration program to be in place before then.”

But that didn't stop Loflin, who told Westword he's not worried about law enforcement. "It's time for this to happen," he said.

Colorado lawmakers have already passed SB-241, which requires the state's Department of Agriculture to set up these rules for hemp farmers by March 1, 2014. The bill has not yet been signed into law, but is expected to be signed by Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper.

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  • Because Most Americans Are Unenthusiastic About It

    Only 7 percent of Americans think the United States is <a href="http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/lifestyle/general_lifestyle/november_2012/7_think_u_s_is_winning_war_on_drugs">winning the war on drugs</a>, and few Americans are interested in throwing down more money to try to win, according to a Rasmussen Reports poll released in 2012.

  • Because The U.S. Won't Control The Flow Of Guns Into Latin America

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/01/mexico-guns-arturo-sarukhan-us-weapons-mexico-violence-gun-rights_n_1563250.html">Mexican authorities seized almost 70,000 weapons of U.S. origin</a> from 2007 to 2011. In 2004, the U.S. Congress declined to renew a 10-year ban on the sale of assault weapons. They quickly became the guns of choice for Mexican drug cartels. Some 60,000 people have died in Mexico since President Felipe Calderón launched a military assault on the cartels in 2006.

  • Because The United States Leads The Hemisphere In Drug Consumption

    Americans have the <a href="http://www.feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/files/serve/?File_id=81b53476-64a3-4088-9bae-254a84b95ddb">highest rate of illegal drug consumption in the world</a>, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

  • Because The U.S. Ignores Latin American Calls For A Rethinking Of Drug Policy

    Several current and former Latin American presidents, like Fernando Henrique Cardoso, have <a href="http://www.globalcommissionondrugs.org/">urged the United States to rethink its failed war on drugs</a>, to no avail.

  • Because Of The Fast And Furious Scandal

    In an attempt to track guns as they moved across the U.S.-Mexico border, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms <a href="http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/atf-fast-furious-sg,0,3828090.storygallery">allowed smugglers to purchase weapons</a>. The ATF lost track of the guns and they wound up in the hands of drug cartels -- even as <a href="http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/news/2012/09/11/atf-fast-and-furious-guns-appear-in-colombia/">far south as Colombia</a>.

  • Because American Politicians Refuse To Candidly Lead A Debate On Reforming Our Laws

    Though the subject of marijuana legalization regularly ranks among the most popular at the digital town halls President Obama takes part in, he <a href="http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/07/06/askobama-twitter-town-hall-ignores-flood-of-marijuana-legalization-questions/">declines to address the issue</a> or give it a <a href="http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/technology/2009/03/obama-addresses.html">thoughtful answer</a>. Incidentally, a younger Obama <a href="http://www.wusa9.com/news/article/229756/82/We-Need-To-Decriminalize-Our-Marijuana-Laws----Barack-Obama">supported marijuana decriminalization and a rethinking of the drug war</a>.

  • Because The U.S. Tortures Detainees In Cuba

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  • Because The U.S. Has The World's Largest Prison Population

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  • Because The U.S. Jails Undocumented Immigrants Guilty Of Civil Violations

    Because the United States <a href="http://www.detentionwatchnetwork.org/ExposeAndClose">imprisons roughly 400,000 immigrants</a> each year on civil violations.

  • Because The Border Patrol Kills Kids Who Throw Rocks

    The U.S. Border Patrol has come under fire for <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/26/border-patrol-killing-un_n_2018731.html">killing minors who were throwing rocks</a>.

  • Because The U.S. Recognized An Illegal Government In Venezuela

    When opponents of leftwing Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez briefly ousted him in 2002, the United States not only failed to condemn the coup, it <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2002/04/16/world/bush-officials-met-with-venezuelans-who-ousted-leader.html">praised the coup leaders</a>.

  • Because U.S. Extradition Undermines Justice In Colombia

    When Colombia demobilized the largest rightwing paramilitary organization in 2006, if offered lenient sentences to those who would offer details on the atrocities the AUC committed. But rather than facing justice in their home country, <a href="http://www.propublica.org/article/colombian-paramilitaries-extradited-to-u.s.-where-cases-are-sealed">Colombia has extradited several paramilitary leaders to the United States</a> to face drug trafficking charges -- marking it harder for people like Bela Henríquez to find out the details surrounding the murders of their loved ones. "More than anger, I feel powerless," Henriquez, whose father, Julio, was kidnapped and killed on the orders of one defendant, told ProPublica. "We don't know what they are negotiating, what conditions they are living under. What guarantee of justice do we have?"

  • Because The U.S. Helped Create Today's Cartels

    The U.S funded the Guatemalan military during the 1960s and 1970s anti-insurgency war, despite awareness of widespread human rights violations. Among the recipients of U.S military funding and training were the Kaibiles, a special force unit responsible for several massacres. Former <a href="http://ghrc-usa.org/Publications/factsheet_kaibiles.pdf" target="_hplink">Kaibiles have joined the ranks of the Zetas drug cartel</a>.

  • Because The U.S. Backed An Argentine Military Dictatorship That Killed 30,000 People

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  • Because The U.S. Helped Topple The Democratically Elected Government Of Salvador Allende

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  • Because the U.S. Backed A Military Coup In Brazil In 1964

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  • Because The U.S. Funded A Terrorist Group In Nicaragua

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  • Because The U.S. Maintains A Trade Embargo Against Cuba Despite Opposition From The Entire World

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  • Because The U.S. Engineered A Coup Against The Democratically Elected Government Of Guatemala In 1954

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  • Because The U.S. Backed The Salvadoran Military As It Committed Atrocities In The 1980s

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  • Because The U.S. Invaded Haiti and Occupied It For Almost 20 Years

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  • Because The U.S. Invaded Haiti Again In 1994

    One invasion wasn't good enough. The U.S. <a href="http://wws.princeton.edu/research/cases/haiti.pdf">military returned in 1994</a>.

  • Because The U.S. Trained Military Leaders Who Committed Atrocities In Latin America

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  • Because The U.S. Backed Dictator Rafael Trujillo

    Rafael Trujillo Sr. (Photo by Hank Walker//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)

  • Because The U.S. Invaded Cuba And Undermined The Island's Independence

    The so-called "Spanish-American War" began in 1868 with the first of a series of three wars for Cuban independence. In 1898, the U.S. got involved, invading Cuba and occupying the island after forcing Spain to give it. The United States then forced Cuba to <a href="http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=true&doc=55">accept the odious Platt Amendent to its Constitution</a>, which allowed the United States to intervene in the country militarily and established the U.S. military base at Guantánamo.

  • Because The U.S. Colonized Puerto Rico

    As long as you're invading Cuba, <a href="http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/puerto-rico-invaded">why not take Puerto Rico</a> as well? The United States invaded in 1898 and the island remains a U.S. territory today.