The number one question I get when it comes to hemp: is it legal? And I answer: YES, it’s legal!
In the 1970s as the war on drugs escalated, industrial hemp was placed on the narcotics list along with marijuana, heroin, and other drugs where it remained until December 24, 2018. As I’ve explained in other blogs, hemp is part of the cannabis family (Cannabis Sativa) and marijuana is also a part of the cannabis family (Cannabis Indica) but the 2 plants are very different from each other. Hemp has low THC levels (0.3 or less), while marijuana has high levels of THC (5.0-35.0).
Recognizing the trace amount of THC in hemp is helping people to understand the different species of the cannabis plant family, how they function differently, and most importantly, the health benefits hemp offers. On December 24, 2018 the President signed into law the Farm Act of 2018. This federal law removed hemp from the narcotics list paving the way for the farming of hemp on a national level. But there is more to this bill than just legalizing hemp.
About every 5 years the federal government passes a farm bill. The one passed in 2018 encompassed forestry, farming, sugar, wetlands, and more. This bill is over 550 pages long. And within this bill, hemp is legalized. Here is the section of the bill regarding hemp:
SEC. 12619. CONFORMING CHANGES TO CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES ACT.
(a) IN GENERAL.—Section 102(16) of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802(16)) is amended— (1) by striking ‘‘(16) The’’ and inserting ‘‘(16)(A) Subject to subparagraph (B), the’’; and (2) by striking ‘‘Such term does not include the’’ and inserting the following: ‘‘(B) The term ‘marihuana’ does not include— ‘‘(i) hemp, as defined in section 297A of the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946; or ‘‘(ii) the’’.
(b) TETRAHYDROCANNABINOL.—Schedule I, as set forth in section 202(c) of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 812(c)), is amended in subsection (c)(17) by inserting after ‘‘Tetrahydrocannabinols’’ the following: ‘‘, except for tetrahydrocannabinols in hemp (as defined under section 297A of the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946)’’.
Here is the link to the bill for you to review: https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/5485
The federal government made a clear distinction between marijuana and hemp based on the different levels of THC within the two plants. With the passing of the Farm Act, hemp is now legal in the United States. But there is still a lot of confusion regarding hemp.
With time this confusion will go away but it will take people willing to openly discuss the health benefits of cannabis and how to incorporate hemp into a healthy lifestyle. After all, hemp is no longer about getting high but about getting healthy.