Introduction to Industrial Hemp legislatures have taken action to try to promote industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity over the past few years. A wide variety of products like textiles, fibers, and construction materials all utilize hemp. It is estimated that hemp has been used in more than 25,000 products nationwide.
While it is understood that hemp and marijuana products are both derivatives from the cannabis plant, hemp is usually distinguished by the way it is used, physical appearance, and its extremely low concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Hemp producers and farmers often grow the plant for the stalk and seeds. The plant is harvested to grow denser, taller, and with only one stalk. In comparison, marijuana is grown shorter and well-spaced.
Former President Barack Obama signed the Agricultural Act of 2014, which is also known as the 2014 Farm Bill. The bill featured Section 7606, which allowed for state departments of agriculture to begin cultivating industrial hemp for limited purposes. In simpler terms, the law allows universities and state departments of agriculture to initiate the cultivation of industrial hemp if:
“(1) the industrial hemp is grown or cultivated for purposes of research conducted under an agricultural pilot program or other agricultural or academic research: and (2) the growing or cultivation of industrial hemp is allowed under the laws of the state in which such institution of higher education or state department of agriculture is located and such research occurs.”
In 2015, a bipartisan group of United States Senators introduced the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015. This act would allow American farmers the opportunity to produce and cultivate their own industrial hemp. The bill would remove hemp from the list of controlled substances as long as it contained no more than 0.3 percent of THC.
State statutes, with the exception of West Virginia, define industrial hemp as a type of cannabis with a THC content of no more than 0.3 percent. West Virginia defines industrial hemp as a type of cannabis with a THC concentration of less than one percent. The majority of state definitions for industrial hemp try to specify that THC concentration is on a “dry weight” basis and that it can be measured from any derivative of the plant. There are a small handful of states that also require the plant to be possessed by a licensed grower for the hemp to be considered under the definition of industrial hemp.
Criminal Justice and Legalization
State legislation has also made the decision to remove hemp from the state’s controlled substances list and has also made an exemption for industrial hemp from the statutory definition of marijuana if it is grown within specific regulations. Some states provide an affirmative defense for cannabis possession and cultivation charges under controlled substance law for those who are licensed. States could require licensees to have a controlled substance registration from the DEA for the defense to apply. At least 20 states have passed laws creating industrial hemp research or pilot programs. State institutions and agencies of higher education administer these programs in order to study the processing, cultivation, and economics of industrial hemp. Pilot programs could be limited to a certain period of time and may require periodic reporting from participants and other state agencies. States may also require coordination between specific universities and institutions. While industrial hemp research and pilot programs usually focus on studying the cultivation, some states have specified guidelines and intended goals.
Industrial hemp contains far less cannabidiol than high-resin CBD-rich cannabis.
A large amount of industrial hemp is needed to extract a small amount of CBD. This can increase the risk of contaminants due to the fact that hemp is a bio-accumulator. This means that the plant naturally draws toxins from the soil. This is a great help for the phyto-remedial process, but it isn’t so great for making medicinal oil products that are safe to ingest. Oil that is extracted from cannabis and hemp will concentrate the good stuff as well as the toxins. CBD is often a byproduct or co-product of industrial hemp grown mainly for another purpose. Farmers who grow these plants could make additional money if they sell unused hemp to a business that wants to extract CBD from what is left over. Compared to high-resin cannabis, low-resin hemp is more susceptible to mold and pest infestation because the resin contains terpenes and cannabinoids that repel predators and protect plants from blight.
Prior to the initiation of the 2018 Farm Bill, the majority of the CBD products that were available in the United States were taken from low-resin industrial hemp that has been grown in China or Europe. Now that the cultivation of hemp is legal in the United States, it should be easier to obtain CBD products that are better quality, made from hemp that is grown in Oregon, Colorado, Montana, Kentucky, and other states. Cannabis is a botanical that is highly adaptive because it is able to survive in various legal and ecological environments. It has a wonderful response to the human hand, which has expanded the capabilities of the plant in ways that are unprecedented.