The short answer: Yes, hemp flower is legal. But hemp flower looks, smells, and taste a lot like marijuana. This along with all the talk about CBD, hemp, and marijuana in the last five years can cause a lot of confusion or uncertainty at the very least surrounding the legality of hemp-derived products.
For a while it seemed like the DEA was determined to convince everyone that hemp-derived CBD was not legal. And now the FDA is cracking down on the way CBD is marketed, which is needed for responsible marketing … but that has nothing to do with whether it is legal for someone to buy and take in the United States. Rest assured, as long as it’s hemp-derived, it is legal.
To help clear up the misconceptions surrounding the legality of CBD oil and hemp flower, we’re going to answer the following questions in this article to help consumers feel more informed:
- What is Hemp Flower?
- What is Hemp vs. Marijuana?
- What is the History of Hemp in the U.S.?
- Is Hemp-Derived CBD Flower Legal in the U.S.?
What is Hemp Flower?
Hemp flower comes from female hemp plants that have reached full bloom and have begun to secrete cannabinoids and resins in order to attract pollen from male plants and produce seeds. Hemp flowers are harvested once the cannabinoids have come on, but before they make seeds.
Hemp flower is also called hemp buds, CBD flower, or CBD buds. The raw hemp flower will look very similar to the buds of medical marijuana that can be purchased at dispensaries in some states. And also like marijuana, you smoke it, vape it, or bake it. The difference is that hemp flower comes from the hemp plant, which is legal.
Hemp flower, by the way, is the primary source for CBD oil. It’s the main part of the hemp plant from which hemp-derived CBD is extracted.
What is Hemp Flower vs. Marijuana?
Marijuana and hemp are species of Cannabis that belong to the Cannabis Sativa family. Think of them as cousins that might look alike, but have different traits and personalities.
Here’s a quick list of the many ways marijuana and hemp differ:
Marijuana has broad leaves, dense buds, and a short, bushy structure.
Hemp has skinny leaves concentrated at the top of the plant, and grows taller and slenderer than the marijuana plant.
Marijuana contains more THC than CBD, and can have anywhere from 5% to 40% THC.
Hemp, on the other hand, contains less than .3% THC, which cannot get you high. Hemp has higher concentrations of CBD, which is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid.
Compared to marijuana, hemp is easier to grow. It is naturally pest and weed resistant, the plants can grow close together, and hemp can adapt to most climates.
Marijuana, however, requires a carefully controlled cultivation environment that is warm and humid, and the plants can not grow too close together.
Because of its intoxicating properties, marijuana is used primarily for recreational and medicinal purposes.
Hemp, though, has many industrial and medicinal purposes. It can produce a wide range of products, including CBD oil, paper, clothing, building materials, plastics, biofuel, food products, oils, and more.
Hemp and marijuana also differ in their legal status, which we’ll get to after we take a quick look at the history of hemp in the U.S.
What is the History of Hemp in the U.S.?
In the beginning, there was hemp. The first U.S. cannabis law was enacted in 1619 in Jamestown, Virginia, and actually required farmers to grow hemp.
In 1916, USDA botanist Lyster Dewey proved that hemp produced four times the paper per acre than trees. It’s this kind of efficiency that has farmers across the U.S. eager to grow industrial hemp again. They know that, compared to wheat, it uses half the water while potentially quadrupling their income.
In 1930s America, the Reefer Madness Campaign spread fear about marijuana. Industrial hemp was lumped in with marijuana, and all the hype eventually led to the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, severely limiting cultivation of industrial hemp. By the end of the decade, the crop was no longer a commercial commodity in the U.S.
However, in 1942, the U.S. government enacted an entirely different campaign, which it called “Hemp for Victory.” For the war effort, farmers were encouraged to grow hemp, because the U.S.’s overseas industrial fibers supply, including Manila hemp, had been cut off by the Japanese.
In the 1970s, the Controlled Substances Act made marijuana (and subsequently, hemp) a Schedule I drug because it has “a high potential for abuse” and “no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.” This placed marijuana (and it’s can’t-get-you-high cousin, hemp) on the same level as heroin and LSD. Until …
Is Hemp-Derived CBD Flower Legal in the U.S.?
Hemp was first defined apart from marijuana by the federal government in the 2014 Farm Bill. It defined hemp as containing .3% or less tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and made it legal to cultivate, produce, and sell within state-defined programs that were considerably restrictive.
The 2018 Farm Bill loosened those restrictions, and as long as hemp and hemp-derived CBD products follow the guidelines of the bill, they are legal. The defining factor is the THC amount of .3% or less.
To reiterate, hemp is no longer a controlled substance as long as it meets the government’s definition. To be sure that your hemp flower is legal (and to prove that it is hemp flower to law enforcement), be sure to keep the certificate of analysis (COA) to prove the legal amount of THC in your hemp flower.
The Nature’s Breakthrough educational resource is just one of the ways The Hemp Haus practices its sincere commitment to and passion for educating people about CBD and helping them find the right, high-quality product based on their needs.