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Is Hemp Legal In The US?

Is Hemp Legal In The US?

The hemp plant is in the same family as marijuana, which has caused many people to wonder whether it is legal in the US or not. That is quite a complex question with no simple answer.

By Mr. Ganja

Even though hemp is a cousin of marijuana, it lacks the high levels of tetrahydrocannabinols (THC), which are the hallucinogenic substances in marijuana that cause the psychoactive effect, or the state of being high. This makes hemp much less potent. It is used in the making of numerous products including clothing, cooking oil, rope, paper, and most popularly, personal care products. US imports millions of dollars of hemp products each year.

Hemp cultivation is illegal in the US

legal hemp permit

Legal Hemp Permit

Farmers in the United States use to grow hemp in the past. However, the Controlled Substance Act of 1970 outlawed its cultivation. Most of the hemp products in the country now come from China. Nevertheless, the federal government is reviewing this act, and most experts believe legalizing the growing of industrial hemp will help the US have a share in this market. On the other hand, some believe that this move may hamper efforts by law enforcement to keep the illegal marijuana off the streets.

The DEA take on hemp

The Drug Enforcement Administration provides information to clarify the legal status of all hemp products. According to the DEA, hemp and marijuana are in fact separate parts of a plant species called cannabis. Congress, under the federal law defined marijuana to concentrate on those sections of the cannabis plant that are sources of THC. The marijuana parts of the cannabis plant are the resin, the leaves and the flowering tops. The rest of the plant including sterilized seeds and the stalks, are what people commonly refer to as hemp, even though it is not a term under the federal law.

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THC in cannabis plants is mostly concentrated in the marijuana, but all parts including hemp contain some levels of the substance. Like marijuana, THC is a Schedule I controlled substance, and the federal law prohibits the possession or consumption of all Schedule I controlled substances. Furthermore, the FDA does not approve them for medical purposes. The DEA has explained which hemp products are legal, and which ones are not.

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If the hemp product causes THC to enter the human body, then it is an illegal substance that is not to be produced, sold or consumed in the US. These products include hemp beverages and foods that contain THC. On the other hand, if the hemp product does not cause THC to enter the human body, then it not a controlled substance, and can be legally manufactured, sold and used in the country. This category includes textiles such as clothes and personal care items like lotions, soaps and shampoos.

The bottom line

Provided they do not contain THC, all hemp products are legal in all states, and in Canada. There are absolutely no laws governing the sale, distribution, possession and use of these products. There is nothing similar between hemp and marijuana. They are grown and processed differently, and have genetically grown so far apart such that for all intents and purposes, they are two entirely different plants.

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Mr. Ganja