The Legality of Hemp in the US – A Definitive Guide

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There’s a reason why people keep asking about the legal status of hemp flowers – and it’s mainly because of how closely related it is to marijuana. Way back in 1937, marijuana was recognized as an illegal substance, placing it as a Schedule I drug in the US.  But because lawmakers at the time didn’t know any better, they tossed hemp together with it.

Decades of research would soon prove that marijuana and hemp were actually chemically different, making it possible for the 2018 Farm Bill to finally de-list hemp as a controlled substance. But even then, people remain confused as to whether or not they’re truly free to use hemp whenever, wherever.

The Big Problem – Hemp vs Marijuana

What the 2018 Farm Bill did is essentially made hemp completely legal in the United States. That means the herb is just a basic agricultural commodity – like a bag of coffee beans or a bundle of fresh broccoli. The problem however is that marijuana remains illegal in many US states for both medical and recreational use.

Hemp flower and marijuana come from the same plant – Cannabis sativa. That means that they look and smell the same, with no perceivable differences between them. The only way to tell them apart would be to send them to the lab and examine their chemistry.

Tetrahdyrocannabinol, or THC, is a compound found in the cannabis plant, and it’s what makes a person feel ‘high’ after using marijuana. That said, if a specimen of cannabis contains 0.3% of THC or less, it’s legally considered hemp due to the fact that it won’t be able to produce a high. Anything more than that means it’s marijuana.

So, although hemp is legal, its close resemblance to marijuana means that it can often be mistaken for its controlled substance counterpart. And that has been a problem for a lot of hemp enthusiasts in the US, especially those living in states that ban both recreational and medical marijuana.

It’s also important to note that different states have varying laws when it comes to marijuana penalties. In some hardcore conservative jurisdictions, the possession, sale, and use of marijuana remains a criminal offense punishable by steep fines and jail time.

Carrying Hemp Where Marijuana is Illegal – What Happens?

So let’s say you were holding on to a hemp stash in a non-rec state, you get pulled over, and a search ensues. The authorities find your hemp, and since there’s no way to tell it apart from marijuana, you find yourself in a bit of a predicament. What happens next, and what are you supposed to do?

First things first – is marijuana decriminalized in the state? If marijuana has been decriminalized, you’ll get off with a misdemeanor until your hemp comes back from the lab with less than 0.3% THC. Otherwise, if possession and use of marijuana remains a criminal offense, you could get arrested. This is why we recommend checking out because they provide all the info you need upfront to ensure that you are getting hemp that has less than 0.3% THC. You can’t take a chance on that.

Some hemp enthusiasts assert that you could probably talk your way out of the situation if you’ve got the necessary paperwork – such as lab tests and purchase receipts – to prove that you’re holding on to hemp and not marijuana. But the chances of having the authorities listen to you is highly unlikely.

That said, you’re going to want to exercise your right to remain silent until you get a lawyer. They’re probably going to confiscate your stash which will then be sent out for testing. And although local governments assert that the look and smell of cannabis isn’t enough to establish probable cause, the actual situation on the field is way different, which means you’re still likely to get penalized for possession.

The best way to avoid the whole issue would be to simply keep your raw flower at home. If you need a dose of CBD while you’re out and about, there are a range of other types of hemp-infused and derived products that you can take with you.

Are Hemp Edibles Legal?

Although the hemp plant itself should be legal, authorities are cracking down on raw flower possession, treating the herb as though it were marijuana. But then on the other hand, there are edibles that should technically be illegal but are nonetheless available almost everywhere.

That’s right – according to the FDA, hemp isn’t approved as a food additive, which means that any food product containing hemp extract isn’t technically legal for distribution or sale. That includes everything from capsules, oils, tinctures, and extracts, to gummy bears, protein powders, peanut butter, and jerky.

But even though they’ve been tagged illegal by the FDA, these food products remain highly accessible and available to the general public. Convenience stores, gasoline stations, salons, and even farmer’s markets often offer hemp-infused food and drink without any apparent repercussions, leading most to believe that these products are legal.

So, should you buy them anyway? If you like them and they work for you, then nothing should stop you. The climate of acceptance surrounding the hemp edibles market just goes to show that although they’re technically illegal, law enforcement doesn’t necessarily see them as a threat. So we can expect that these products will soon become legal in the US, given enough time and consideration from lawmakers.

Hemp is Legal – But There Are Boundaries

For as long as marijuana remains a controlled substance, there’s no way that hemp will ever truly become 100% legal. Of course, if we’re being technical, it is a legal agricultural commodity. But the fact that it looks and smells exactly like marijuana – which remains illegal in some states – means that law enforcement agencies may struggle to tell the two apart. And it’s because of this that CBD hemp flower enthusiasts and users are forced to curtail the kind of hemp products they use, depending on the places they go.

Fortunately however, we’re seeing a lot of improvement with the general perception of hemp and its benefits. And with time, we might expect to see our local governments coming up with ways and methods to successfully tell the two apart so users who benefit from the use of hemp can enjoy its effects anytime, anywhere.

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