Hemp For Victory – The True Story

There is lots of information about the Film Hemp for Victory and how it was discovered.  Many have most truths to them and some faulty information some are out and out lies.

Hemp for Victory is a film that was made by the USDA in 1942 as a part of the war effort.  For a long time there was no documentation that the film existed and the government denied ever making such a film.

In 1989, John Birrenbach, Founder of The Institute For Hemp, received a copy of a copy of a copy of the film on VHS.  Having spent a great deal of time at the University of MN Agricultural library he searched for evidence of the film.  Located in a USDA brochure about the war effort propaganda films available from the USDA was a listing for the film Hemp For Victory along with a short description.

This inspired John to search the U of MN Library system for the film.  He ran into a brick wall but was told by the librarian that it had been in their collection but had been removed.  They couldn’t say who removed it but policy was that only the organization that submitted something had the right to remove it.  So presumably at some point the USDA removed this film from Ag libraries across the nation.

Not able to locate the film with the U of MN John went through countless people at the USDA looking for the film.  All indicated that there never was such a film and that they knew nothing about the film.  All was looking pretty bleak.

At about the same time Jack Herer and Christopher Wright went to Washington DC.  While there they searched at the National Archives for the film but were unable to locate a copy of the film there.

Unaware that Jack and Chris had both been to the National Archives in May of 1990 John called up the National Archives library and inquired about the film.  At first the woman wanted to know if he had an ID number for the film, which unfortunately he didn’t have.  He asked if it was possible to search for the title, which it was and revealed the ID number for the films.  Yes there were two reels of film that comprised the entire 15 minute film.

John naturally inquired how to obtain a copy of the film from the archives. He was told that he would need to pay a fee and the National Archives would have it copied from 35mm onto a VHS Tape and sent to him.  Very promptly he sent out the request along with payment.

It was a couple months later at a rally in WI but on by Ben Masel that John spoke with Jack and told him of his discovery.  Always the skeptic Jack told John that they didn’t have the film he had been there personally and looked for it.  A couple weeks later John received his copy of the films from the National Archives.

BUT who really found the film.  This writer knows that Jack Herer got his copy from William Conde in Portland OR.  It has been verified by those that were present like Steve Orgel, and Paul Stanford both activists who assisted Jack as he finalized his book “The Emperor Wears No Clothes”.

The ONLY copy of the film to be recovered from a government source verifying it’s authenticity certainly goes to John Birrenbach then Founder of The Institute for Hemp, which became The Institute for Cannabis, this organization.

This film can now be downloaded from the National Archives at the following link – https://catalog.archives.gov/id/1682

You will notice the location identifier for the film case is the same as the one on the archives page