For over half a century, which is well over 80 decades, the USA federal law did not differentiate between industrial hemp and other cannabis plants. It is after 1937 when industrial hemp was classified under the Marihuana Tax Act. In essence hemp was banned from production as an ordinary agricultural crop. In 1970 hemp classification under the Controlled Substances Act continued to make it an illegal plant.
Hemp legalization came last year on 20th December 2018, with a change of hemp policies with the signing of the 2018 Farm Bill by President Donald Trump. Hemp is now an ordinary agricultural plant. The law states that it should have 0.3% or less THC. In other words, hemp is not marijuana and you cannot get high from consuming industrial hemp. Consequently, there is differentiation of hemp from marijuana under the USA federal law. Marijuana has high levels of THC, which are active compounds that cause someone to get high after intake.
What Does the Signing of the 2018 Farm Bill Really Mean?
The signing of the 2018 Farm Bill has and will continue to transform the industrial hemp industry. One may ask if hemp is legal in all the states of the USA following the signing of the 2018 Farm Bill. It seems that most states in the USA focused on the marijuana plant legalization more than industrial hemp legalization. There is no state law that differentiates marijuana from industrial hemp.
We have about 33 states that have allowed the use of cannabis for medical purposes. Only ten states have legalized its use for adults only since 1996. However, the legalization is quite restricted to few quantities which make it impossible to deal with industrial hemp on a commercial basis. This is because the state laws do not differentiate between marijuana and industrial hemp.
In those states where marijuana and in effect industrial hemp legalization, there are restrictions. The state of California, for example, legalized marijuana in 1996. In California, an adult can only carry up to 8 grams of marijuana. Moreover, each household cannot grow more than 8 marijuana plants. In Washington DC, marijuana is only grown for medical purposes. A person can carry only an ounce of the plant. While in Massachusetts, a household can grow up to 12 plants and an individual cannot carry more than an ounce of marijuana.
Therefore, the main breakthrough for hemp is through the federal law-the 2018 Farm Bill which actually was hemp legalization. The federal law differentiates it from marijuana so that it can be grown and manufactured in large scale.
USA States Where Industrial Hemp is Not in Their Legal Policy
The 2018 Farm Bill makes hemp a mainstream crop in all 50 states of the USA. Section 10113 of the Farm Bill requires each state’s agriculture department to liaise with the Chief Law Enforcement Officer and State Governor to develop state laws on industrial hemp. The plan needs submission to the Secretary of USDA for approval. However, if a state decides not to have a hemp regulations, then hemp dealers will operate under the federal program. USDA will provide a system for hemp dealers (farmers and manufacturers) in those states to get licenses. They also give regulations on how they will operate using federal law.