Pennsylvania has a long history with marijuana dating back to when William Penn first founded the state in 1619. Penn specifically intended for farmers to grow hemp upon finding Pennsylvania, so by 1683, one of the first laws passed under the General Assembly encouraged farmers to grow hemp. In the next two years, Pennsylvania produced large amounts of the plant, which Penn noted would be among the four staples of trade. By 1729, the mass production of hemp created the capitol of hemp, Hempfield Township in Lancaster County. The township is named for the “vast quantities of hemp raised there,” which continued in the state well into the late 1930s when the perception of the drug began to change with the Reefer Madness scare.
Encouraged by this propaganda film, Governor Gifford Pinchot signed a law banning marijuana in Pennsylvania in 1933. Many farmers continued to grow hemp though, because their farms have grown the plant for years and at that time, there was no way to distinguish between “industrial hemp” and cannabis. For this reason, many farmers were arrested for continuing to grow their hemp plants. The perception of marijuana changed again when many local governments began approving measures to reduce these marijuana penalties. These marijuana laws are continuing to change and improve in the hemp capitol.