As a result of several states having legalized cannabis, the industry is booming. Between laxer laws on recreational use spreading throughout the country and over-the-counter CBD products being sold in convenience stores, many feel that it is only a matter of time before cannabis becomes fully legalized on a federal level.
Despite the ever-growing popularity of various cannabis products, the legality of growing hemp has remained unclear to many. However, new legislation is about to change all of that.
What is CBD and Is It Legal?
Technically, CBD is a substance that is perfectly legal to purchase and consume. CBD is a cannabinoid that’s isolated and extracted from the cannabis plant. This cannabinoid has been one of the hottest natural lifestyle products to emerge in quite some time.
Modern research is helping us to learn more about the endocannabinoid system in the human body. This system regulates various processes that keep the body in a state of homeostasis. The endocannabinoid system produces its own cannabinoids that interact with the nervous system to keep the immune system functioning properly while regulating everything from our internal temperature to our sleep patterns. It’s thought that these endogenous cannabinoids simply supplement the body with what it needs to stay balanced.
The Difference between Marijuana and Hemp
As it stands, CBD is legal to consume and purchase in the United States and many other places because it comes from the hemp plant rather than the marijuana plant. Both plants belong to the cannabis family. The difference between the two is that hemp, unlike cannabis, has no psychoactive properties when it is consumed. This is because of its incredibly low level of THC, a cannabinoid that is responsible for the high that people experience when they consume the leaves and buds of the marijuana plant.
As it turns out, marijuana can contain up to 30 percent THC, which explains why users can get extremely high off of small amounts. On the other hand, hemp contains approximately 0.3 percent THC. Because of this, CBD products that come from the hemp plant rather than the marijuana plant don’t put users at risk of experiencing psychoactive effects. Therefore, CBD is not considered to be an illegal substance when consumed.
Of course, in states in which marijuana is legal, it is possible to purchase and consume CBD products that are derived from the marijuana plant. These products, however, cannot be transported into other states legally.
How the DEA Views CBD
Even though CBD that is derived from the hemp plant will not get a user high, the DEA has still tried to restrict the cultivation of hemp for a very long time. In fact, the DEA classified CBD as a Schedule I controlled substance back in 1970.
Other substances that exist in this category include LSD, cocaine and heroin. It goes without saying that countless CBD users have struggled to see the similarities between these potentially harmful, addictive drugs and CBD, a non-toxic, non-psychoactive compound.
By classifying CBD as a Schedule I controlled substance, they had, up until recently, been able to determine that it is illegal for hemp to be grown, consumed or purchased. That all changed, however, with the introduction of the 2014 Agricultural Farm Bill. This bill stated that hemp could be cultivated as long as it was for research purposes, meaning that farmers could grow hemp if they had the state’s permission and were cultivating it in order to give it to researchers.
The FDA has also just recently approved the first CBA-based drug for children who have epilepsy.
When asked about their stance on CBD by The Cannabist in January of 2017, the DEA claimed that CBD is being marketed and sold illegally. They stated that the production and marketing of CBD is in direct violation of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) as well as the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA). According to them, due to the “clandestine” nature of the CBD industry, brands are free to create questionable, potentially dangerous products that vary in legitimacy and effectiveness. They also stated that it was very likely that brands that were marketing CBD were producing products that did not actually contain CBD, putting users at risk of consuming harmful ingredients.
Because, according to laws passed by the DEA, CBD products had to contain only CBD derived from registered hemp farmers, the DEA was concerned that farmers were falsely claiming to be harvesting hemp for research purposes when they were, in fact, simply trying to produce CBD products strictly for commercial use. That’s why they required all hemp farmers to submit to the FDA an Investigational New Drug (IND) application. This application required hemp farmers to prove that they were growing hemp with the intent to submit it to authorized research laboratories. It also required that the researchers obtain the CBD from the farmers before the application was accepted.
Take note as well that the DEA’s “marijuana extract rule” doesn’t apply to hemp or derivative products such as hemp-derived CBD. This is again excellent news. There is also a U.S. Hemp Roundtable that protects those who manufacture and use CBD. Here is a quick excerpt from them on their site to shed a bit more light on this: “ready to defend that principle if ever the DEA tries to interfere with state pilot programs – or the interstate sale or transport of hemp from those programs – in contravention of clear federal law, as confirmed in the recent Omnibus Spending Law.”
A New Dawn for Hemp Farmers
This brings us to the latest news. Only last week, the 2018 Farm Bill was passed by the Senate. This bill determines that for the first time since 1970, CBD is no longer classified as a controlled substance.
More importantly, it means that hemp farmers are free to cultivate hemp without any federal restrictions. Therefore, hemp can be legally grown for the first time since the Marijuana Tax Act was passed in 1937.
CBD enthusiasts are hopeful that the DEA’s new laws regarding the cultivation of hemp are just the beginning of a CBD revolution.
How CBD Will Continue to Gain Momentum in the USA
The DEA’s relationship with hemp farmers has been full of turbulence since 1937. However, with the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp farmers can cultivate their crops without any legal consequences at last, making it easier than ever for CBD users to have access to high-quality CBD products.