What is Hemp? Is it Legal?

When many people hear the term “cannabis”, they generally think of a famous plant with questionable legal status. They may even use the words “marijuana” and “hemp” interchangeably to describe it. However, many people do not know that the word “cannabis” is used to describe an entire group of plants that includes hemp and marijuana. When people learn this, many of them end up having a lot of questions—one of the main ones being, how are the two different from each other. We are firm believers in education. We want to make sure that people understand the difference between these, what makes hemp so special, and whether or not it is legal.

united states flag in front of a courthouse

What is the difference between hemp & marijuana?

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You may be thinking that all cannabis is the same, and, as a result, so are hemp and marijuana. But this isn’t actually how it works. While the two have a fair amount in common, they are their own plants. But what makes them different? Mostly, it has to do with what chemical compounds you find in them.

Cannabis plants have a group of chemical compounds called cannabinoids. This is a wide group of compounds, with over 113 different ones found in cannabis plants. It’s fairly likely that there are more to be discovered as time goes on. These cannabinoids are what make the difference in hemp and marijuana.

There are a couple of very famous cannabinoids that are important to know about. They are called cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). For this section, we are going to focus on THC and go into more detail about CBD later in the article. THC’s importance lies in its effect on people. It has a strong effect that is generally called psychoactive. It creates an inebriation that is often called a “high.” It should be noted that CBD is not psychoactive and does not create any sort of inebriation.

Hemp and marijuana have all of the same cannabinoids in them. The difference is dependent on how much of each of the cannabinoids that they contain, especially how much THC and CBD they have. Marijuana has very high levels of THC. Because THC has the effects it does, marijuana tends to be talked about much more. Hemp, on the other hand, has very low levels of THC. In fact, its levels are so low, and it does not have enough to create a high.

The big take away from this, is that while hemp and marijuana are both cannabis plants, only marijuana will get you high. Hemp will not.

cannabis leaves

Is hemp legal?

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It’s not hard to see why people ask this. After all, there are always a lot of questions surrounding the legal status of cannabis. While it is considered a milder version of the plant, hemp is still cannabis. So, how does it stand up to legal scrutiny? Much better than you may initially think.

In 2018, it was time for the United States Legislature to take a look at the Farm Bill again. This is a law that deals with everything related to farming in the United States. This means that it controls what farmers can legally grow and sell. Every five or so years, it is reviewed, updated, and changed, and passed again.

The new version of this bill that was produced by the Legislature included something interesting. This version of the bill officially made hemp federally legal. This meant that unless a state has a specific law stating otherwise, hemp is federally legal for farmers to grow and sell, and for manufacturers to make into products. The bill specifies that hemp has less than 0.3% THC in it. Any higher, the plant is considered marijuana, which is still federally illegal.

There are three states where hemp is still illegal. They are Idaho, Nebraska, and South Dakota. Other states have strict restrictions on who can use it and how it can be sold. But other than those exceptions, hemp is officially legal in the United States. This is great news for many people because hemp is what most manufacturers use to produce CBD products.

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Time to talk about CBD

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We have mentioned CBD a few times but have not yet explained what it is. As a CBD company, we would be mistaken not to give a quick overview of CBD oil.

As already briefly covered, CBD is one of the cannabinoids that you can find in cannabis plants. It is generally similar to THC, but it has one key difference: CBD is not psychoactive. It does not create the high that THC does. However, it may offer many benefits to its users.

CBD helps define hemp as its own sperate cannabis variety. Like we talked about above, hemp has a very low THC content (less than 0.3% if you remember). Plus, it has a lot of CBD. As a result, most CBD manufacturers prefer using hemp rather than marijuana. Of course, this preference is also helped by the legal statuses of hemp and marijuana. Because hemp is legal in most states, it’s a lot easier to get the hemp you need to make the product and to sell it across state lines.

There has been consistent ongoing research on CBD’s effects benefits the last couple of decades, and it has been promising. For example, some studies have been finding that CBD may be able to help users achieve a greater sense of calm. Many studies have suggested that CBD could be a powerful anti-inflammatory. Another area that has been looked at a lot is CBD’s potential ability to reduce acne. These are just a few examples of the research that is being done on CBD at the moment. At the moment these studies are considered preliminary, so we can’t yet say for sure what CBD can or cannot do. But that doesn’t make it any less promising and exciting.

It’s not surprising that people often get hemp and marijuana confused. However, it is important that people know that they are different and to know what hemp is and how it may be able to help people. It is, of course, also good to know that hemp is (for the most part) legal in the United States.