The Legality Status of Hemp, Marijuana, and Cannabis

vibrant green hemp plant

Despite the growing body of evidence that claims marijuana has several therapeutic benefits, regulatory bodies in the US continue to see marijuana products in a negative light and do not allow them to be consumed freely. There has been much discussion, prohibitions, and approvals, all of which cast a shadow of doubt on what is legal and what could land you in jail.

For this reason, we’re using this article to help you understand the rules about marijuana, CBD oil, and hemp so you can make educated buying decisions.  

In December 2018, President Trump signed an agriculture bull which finally made the production of hemp legal across the United States. The farm bill allows states to engage in state-authorized cultivation of hemp for research purposes, which means that hemp must still be grown under a state stationed program.

In addition, there has been much confusion about the different terms in relation to CBD and THC and their origins, and these include hemp, marijuana, and cannabis. Put simply, hemp is the plant’s stem that has tremendous applications in the industry.

Its fibers have been used in the past for making papers, textiles, and many household products. The new bill will definitely serve as a boon to the industry. Perhaps more importantly, hemp’s legalization on the federal level opens up a huge possibility, which is the opportunity of extracting beneficial substances from hemp that could be used for their medicinal value.

Hemp substances are very low in THC while continuing a good amount of CBD. While hemp production is largely legal in the US, extracting substances from it such as CBD and THC differ from state to state – which means it’s still very much a grey legal area.

Speaking purely about marijuana, it enjoys full legal status in the following states:
California, Maine, Alaska, Oregon, Vermont, Nevada, Colorado, Washington D.C, Michigan, and Massachusetts. Word of caution: this does not give you the free hand to brew an unlimited amount of marijuana in your backyard, or even buy beyond a certain amount.

There are several regulations that dictate subtle rules such as quantity (and quality), so make sure you get in touch with the local council for more information.

Marijuana and its products are being viewed in a positive light thanks to a large number of purported health benefits. In fact, two-thirds of the country is in support of using marijuana, but you should always be on your guard because legalization varies from state to state. Marijuana can fight off a long list of diseases and conditions, from relatively mild symptoms such as headaches and insomnia to diseases that severely affect a person’s quality of life, to diseases with deadly repercussions such as cancer.

Despite its excellent therapeutic capabilities, cannabis is still classified as a class I schedule drug by the federal government due to strong opposition from some powerful people. However, the hemp plant is fine.

The Legalization of CBD

CBD oil that is free of THC can be used freely by the public. The federal government still had a ban on CB D until last year, not that it enforced it. They did little more than fire off a few warning letters ordering manufacturers to stop making health claims that are unproven. The FDA never tried to stop the commerce that thrived because of it. Why would the FDA crackdown on stores if CBD never killed anyone?

Since it was extracted from cannabis, CBD was long considered as a Schedule I substance, along with other derivatives of the marijuana plant. But CBD doesn’t cause anyone to experience the euphoric high, which meant that it existed in a gray area. CBD tinctures and oils were sold at head shops and health food stores without interference from the FDA.

Then the FDA approved a purified form of CBD to treat rare forms of epilepsy in children. Epidiolex, a CBD drug produced by GW Pharmaceuticals, was cleared by the FDA in an act that was cheered by advocates and activists alike who assumed that this gave a blanket seal of approval to all forms of CBD. Not quite.

Once a substance is approved as a drug, it becomes prohibited to be used as a nutraceutical supplement or food. Drugs, by law, can’t be added to food. This means that the FDA can make an example out of anyone if they choose to. The law states that a person can possess a month’s supply of the drug for personal use, but selling food with CBD is not legal.

The Federal Government, it seems, doesn’t want to put a stop to the commercial trade practices that have occurred due to hemp derived CBD oil.

2018 Shaped Up the Events that Led to Today

2018 was a great year for marijuana because 915 bills were filed related to cannabis, hemp, and medical marijuana. A large Marjory of states, to the tune of 92 percent, accepted cannabis reform bills last year.

At least 147 bills were signed and moved forward in relation to marijuana legalization. Those that reached the finished line ranged from opportunistic proposals such as legalization of home cultivation in Vermont and the legalization of the possession of cannabis to regulatory measures like the Colorado bill, which was concerned with water use for hemp cultivation and marijuana water recycling.

28 bills were filed for hemp, while 48 were related to medical cannabis and CBD and the rest of the bills had to do with legal markets. Perhaps unsurprisingly, California was the state with the higher number of passed legislation (26 bills) as it tried implementing the voter-approved legalization system. Some of the issues that were touched by the bills included cannabinoid infused alcohol beverages and marijuana advertisements. Over 29 bills were vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown.

Colorado comes next with 18 bills signed while three were vetoed.

Perhaps more surprisingly, Hawaii had the greatest amount of cannabis bills. Only six were enacted with an outlandish 103 proposals failing or being vetoed.

Other states like South Dakota had only one bill. New Jersey saw around 57 bills related to cannabis, with only one reaching the legislative process, which was a regulation to start a pilot program to research more about industrial hemp cultivation.

California weighed in with 55 bills, New York considered 48 bills, and Washington State had 45 bills related to cannabis.

Why 2019 is a Promising Year for Marijuana Legalization

Michigan bagged the title of being the 10th state to legalize recreational marijuana in November of last year, setting precedence for other states to follow suit. It is entirely possible that the number of states with similar laws would double by the year’s end. In Illinois, the governor openly claimed that he wanted Illinois to beat Michigan’s claim of being the first Midwestern state to legalize commercialization of marijuana.

This prompted members of Congress to introduce bills with outlandish goals that could never have seen the light of day a few years ago. Three such bills, which have already been filed include:

a) a reinstatement of the CARERS Act, which is targeted at expanding marijuana research
b) the second bill, known as the HR 420 or the “Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act,” states that marijuana should be removed from the list of most dangerous drugs, or “de-scheduling it”, as Congress put it.
c) the third bill, which could threaten Canada’s cannabis industry, is known as the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act. It seeks to protect banks that want to work with cannabis companies from regulators who might subject them to criminal scrutiny. Members of the Congressional Committee are discussing, debating, and voting on the bill as we speak.

If the bill gets submitted to the House, it will mark one of the first steps in an arduous campaign launched by marijuana activists to finally give cannabis companies access to financial services, credit cards, bank accounts, and fintech services.  This will subject Canadian cannabis companies to intense competition from American counterparts, because they will gain access to major sources of finance, thus facilitating their quick growth to help them leverage the domestic demand for cannabis.

It is unlikely that these bills will gain approval because Republicans are in control of the Senate. One thing’s for certain though, the growing disconnect between the federal and state law cannot continue for much longer, and it doesn’t have to. The Farm Bill has made the prospects of removing marijuana from the list of scheduled drugs a more likely possibility. The plant is, after all, legal, even if its potency is still in question.

Defining Cannabis

It is important to define the real meaning of cannabis. The terms marijuana, hemp, and cannabis have been used in completely different ways depending o the writer. Even the scientific lingo, which is largely consistent and precise in its definition, has failed to make clear arguments that establish a fine line between different strains and species of ‘marijuana’.

However, if we were to put it simply, cannabis has 3 species of plants – cannabis ruderalis, cannabis indica, and cannabis sativa. The last two are types that are largely available in any marijuana dispensary. In some scientific circles, it is argued that these species are not very different at all. So it is understandable that the layman will be even more confused,

Irrespective of your definition, strain or species, marijuana with high quantities of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the compound that is responsible for the euphoric high, continues to remain illegal under the new law. So, all the excited activists shouldn’t get too excited just yet.

Agriculture Bill Gives Hemp a New Meaning

The new Farm Bill did an important thing: it legally defined hemp. The Federal Government did not make any distinction between different strains and species of cannabis, which put hemp under the Controlled Substance Act of 1970. The most interesting reason why the bill is so important is that it amends this act by giving a new definition to hemp.

Any C. Sativa plant that has a THC quantity of less than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis is classified as hemp. The bill does not legalize cannabis completely, although it does legalize strains with low quantity of THC.

This is important for the nascent cannabis industry. THC is not the only reason why the industry should grow cannabis. After all, the plant has several uses such as being used for canvas and rope. It enjoyed most popularity during World War II when it was cultivated for industrial reasons. In fact, the US even made a propaganda film for the war known as “Hemp for Victory” to encourage growers to increase their supply of cannabis.

The Most Important News to Come Out of This: CBD

The most beneficial thing to come out of this law is the legalization of hemp, which is a good source of CBD, if not the best. CBD or cannabidiol has therapeutic benefits but does not get you high. It is claimed to have several health benefits and goods companies are aggressively trying to incorporate it into everything from sports drinks to pills.

There is a large number of potential benefits from CBD, which include treatments for pain relief, epilepsy, anxiety, and inflammation. CBD has been legalized in one way or another in all states except for the big three – Nebraska, Idaho, and South Dakota.

Legalizing the mass production of CBD opens the door for growing cannabis legally in the US. This was not previously possible for companies, farms, and consumers ever since the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 was enforced.

The bill has ushered in a new era that has opened a world of opportunities for producers of cannabis in the US. The market for CBD products has already exceeded a cap of a billion dollars, aggressively opening the door for revenue growth, innovating new products for consumers, increased funding for R&D, and expanding to new frontiers.

It wouldn’t be inaccurate to state that ‘some’, if not all, cannabis is legal in the US.  

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