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What is the Legal Definition of “hemp” as opposed to cannabis/marijuana?

There is a constitutional law doctrine known as “preemption” that comes into play when figuring out the answer to this question.  This doctrine says that federal law trumps state law. The Farm Bill Act 0f 2018, also known as the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (cited as Pub. L. 115-334), is the place to look for the legal meaning of “hemp.” A screenshot of the definition is reproduced below:


A link to the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 is here: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/PLAW-115publ334/pdf/PLAW-115publ334.pdf.

According to federal law, Marijuana plants with a Delta-9 THC concentration lower than .3% are now characterized and defined by federal law as “hemp.” Hemp is not a controlled substance. 

 

 

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The CBD Health Debate

It is a good idea to do your own research, and take advice from your primary care physician before making a decision about using products with CBD, including hemp flower. It is important to consider any bold health claims with skepticism. For example, the website of a fly by night company offering CBD oil as cure for aging, diabetes, gout, and rheumatoid arthritis – would not be a credible source of information. Generally speaking, the best sources are: a) Medical Doctors; b) Peer-reviewed studies published in legitimate scholarly journals; c) Official U.S. Government publications. Research articles written by scientists can be hard to understand without a medical or scientific background, and many of them are behind a paywall. Below is a short list of articles from the internet that are helpful in educating oneself about whether CBD has health benefits.

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Coming Soon: New Hampshire-Grown Hemp!

The governing law is the Hemp Farming Act of 2018. 

Is it hard to get a license to grow hemp?

There is a simple application for a program run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (“USDA”). Applicants have to furnish a current FBI criminal record check.  There are a lot of rules to follow to keep a hemp license. Licensed hemp farmers must closely adhere to the USDA’s “final rule” titled “Establishment of a Domestic Hemp Production Program.” One of the requirements is that the hemp crop must be tested at specific intervals before harvest – and contain no more than .3% total delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (also known as delta-9 THC). USDA licensed hemp growers are subject to strict requirements on defining and reporting exactly where they grow hemp, called a “plot.” Every hemp plot must be on file with the local county USDA Farm Service Area office.  An official identification number for each growing location, or “plot” is associated with the grower’s license number.  Legal hemp growers are subject to annual inspections and audits administered by the USDA on a random basis. Obviously, an important goal of the USDA’s hemp program is to keep out growers who would use a hemp growing license as cover for an illegal marijuana grow operation.

 

Can a person get high smoking hemp?

While hemp has many historical uses, including fiber for rope, smoking hemp has only become “a thing” in recent years. A naturally occurring chemical within the plant called Cannabidiol (CBD) is the reason. Smoking (or cooking with) hemp flower or “bud” from specially selected strains of hemp with high CBD is increasingly popular. With THC content of .03% or less, it would be very difficult (and maybe impossible) to  become “high” or “stoned” by smoking (or ingesting) hemp.

If smoking hemp flowers doesn’t result in a high, why would anyone do it?

 They smoke CBD/hemp in pursuit of CBD’s purported health benefits – instead of chasing a “high.”