The passage of the 2018 Farm Bill brought with it exciting news for many in agriculture — that industrial hemp has been declassified as a controlled substance and therefore is now legal to produce. Industrial hemp, of course, is the low-THC cousin of marijuana, legally containing less than 0.3% THC, which is nowhere near the amount that would be required to create the “high” associated with marijuana.
Though industrial hemp is now legal to grow, cannabis legalization varies from state to state. It’s fully legalized along the west coast as well as in Nevada, Colorado, Michigan, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Maine. The rest of the country is a patchwork of statuses; in some states medical marijuana is legal while in others, only CBD products are legal. Nebraska has decriminalized marijuana but otherwise has no legal program and three states — Idaho, South Dakota, and Kansas — have no legal program at all.
While there are a number of ways that cannabis and hemp legalization issues intersect, here’s a biggie: Since there is no way to visually tell if a plant is hemp or marijuana, interstate shipments of hemp are sometimes being seized in states with more restrictive laws and those transporting them are being charged with drug trafficking.
The reason this is an issue is because the U.S. is in the very early stages of creating an infrastructure around this crop and there are a limited number of processors who are able to take the raw hemp product and turn it into marketable goods. Furthermore, chances are the processor won’t be in your state and getting your hemp to them may involve passing through other states where it is illegal, putting shipments at risk of seizure.
Essentially, what this comes down to is that while it is legal to