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Legalization of Industrial Hemp in the U.S.

Cannabis and its derivatives are currently recognized as Schedule 1 drugs by the federal government. However, this does not apply to hemp-derived products. Although the DEA doesn’t regulate hemp products, they do regulate hemp cultivation. This means many US suppliers are importing hemp from overseas because they cannot grow hemp in their state. The FDA is also trying to regulate CBD products, claiming that CBD is a new drug. Needless to say, there is a lot of ambiguity in terms of the legality of CBD and hemp. Despite all of these regulations, hemp-based CBD oil is legal to purchase in all 50 states.

Legal CBD, Legality of Hemp

CBD from Hemp

CBD (cannibidiol) – one of over 100 compounds called cannabinoids that are found in cannabis – is often found in extract or oil form and is widely available throughout the U.S. This non-psychoactive compound has been used in a wide variety of products. As of 2013, annual sales of hemp-related products are estimated (pdf) to be around $581 million.

Growing without a permit is illegal. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the law enforcement agency tasked with regulating everything related to marijuana and hemp in the U.S. under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, has the authority to issue permits for growing industrial hemp. However, it has rarely issued any such permit over the past sixty years.

Most people have no idea that the U.S. government – which maintains a strong stance that cannabis lacks medical value, actually hides a secret. The Health and Human Services Division of the federal government holds the US patent #6630507 “Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants,” which was issued in October 2003.

Prior to the passage of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (also known as the Farm Bill of 2014), the last DEA hemp permit – which expired in 2003 – was issued in 1999 for a quarter-acre experimental plot in Hawaii.

The passage of the 2014 legislation set off a groundswell the results of which continue to spread across this country.

CBD is legal in all 50 States

Currently, at least 35 states allow the use of medical marijuana. Also, 17 states allow low THC / high CBD products for medical reasons in limited situations or as a legal defense. Cannabidiol as a dietary supplement is legal in all 50 States.

The reasons behind this steady turnaround aren’t that surprising. They include:

  • support from the medical community
  • variable regulatory systems modeled off alcohol regulation
  • the opportunity for state financial gain from increased tax revenues

The US government has maintained the posture that CBD and medical marijuana have no medicinal benefits. Countries around the world hold different viewpoints, however.

Brazil, for example, has approved a hemp cannabidiol (CBD) product called Real Scientific Hemp Oil (RSHO) as a treatment for cancer, as well as a prescription medication for epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and chronic pain.

Among the states that have legalized the use of hemp / CBD, the majority of legislation specifies that patients cannot grow hemp in their state but must get their products from other states such as Colorado, where it’s legally grown and produced. All the states have tight specifics on the products and their allowed use.

The state of Utah, for example, legalized the use of CBD products including industrialized hemp and hemp oil in 2014. The law stated that only patients with intractable epilepsy with a signed statement from a neurologist could legally use them and that the extract must contain less than 3 percent THC and at least 15 percent CBD by weight. It cannot contain other psychotropic elements, must be in a sealed container from a licensed lab in the state where it was produced, with a label stating the extract’s ingredients and origin, and be transmitted by the laboratory to the Utah Department of Health. Also, anyone seeking to get this must apply to the Utah Department of Health for permission to import cannabis extract.

It may seem strange that a conservative state such as Utah legalized CBD products. The larger picture makes it clearer.

Hemp-based products are significantly lower in THC, the element that produces the much sought-after “high”.

CBD won’t get you high, says Arthur Jaffee, a founding member of Elixinol, a Colorado-based company that manufactures and provides high-quality hemp extracts. “It has valuable cannabinoids but (is) extremely low in THC,” he said.

“CBD is a hot item right now,” Jaffee says.

“Cannabinoids are something our bodies were designed to receive. They’re extremely valuable, (especially from) a therapeutic standpoint.”

For generations, hemp has been grown all over Europe.

More than 150 million pounds of hemp were harvested on 146,200 acres of the United States during 1943, its peak year.

There is a great deal of confusion – perhaps even with the media in its reporting – when speaking of cannabis versus industrial hemp / hemp-based products. But what is clear is that industrial hemp, hemp oil, and CBD are beneficial in helping fight and/or treat a number of medical issues, particularly in children. Even the U.S. government recently acknowledged this.

States are continuing to recognize the benefits of hemp-based products, despite federal roadblocks. Could the country be far behind in the hemp / CBD movement?

J.S. Haven is a professional blogger who writes on a wide variety of topics for many online venues. Haven can be reached at

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