The cultivation of cannabis as been around for centuries, dating back to about 8,000 B.C. Many cultures have utilized this plant for many centuries. There three species of the cannabis plant, Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis Indica and Cannabis Ruderalis.
We will focus on the Cannabis Sativa plant- hemp today. Hemp is a species of the Cannabis Sativa plant and is less intoxicating than its cousin. Hemp and marijuana both come from the cannabis sativa plant, but they are quite distinct and have different uses with a wide variety of uses ranging from clothing to oils.
So, if there are many uses for hemp, why is it not being more utilized in the United States today. Well, that is a simple answer, it has been illegal in the United States for decades. However, there is still the question, is hemp legal in United States today?
History of hemp in the U.S.
Let’s start with a brief history lesson about hemp in the United States. It is known that both Presidents Washington and Jefferson had hemp farms and during the Colonial Era Americans were legally bound to grow hemp.
However, in 1937 congress passed the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, which included hemp, making it quite difficult for farmers to cultivate hemp and the beginning of the hemp prohibition.
1937 Marijuana Tax Act
In 1937, Congress passed the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, which placed a tax on the sale of cannabis in the United States. Led by a man named Harry J. Anslinger and with some other cohorts went on a crusade against marijuana, rendering it one of the worst narcotics. This act did not criminalize marijuana; however, a penalty would be imposed if caught in possession or using marijuana.
In 1942 during World War II, the USDA made a film encouraging U.S. farmers to grow hemp for the war. During this time farmers produced millions of acres of hemp across the Midwest. Once the war ended the government quietly shut down the program and once again hemp started to fade away.
The U.S. government has recognized and acknowledged that industrial hemp and marijuana were different varieties of the Cannabis plant.
Passage of the CSA
It wasn’t until the 1970’s when the Controlled Substance Act of 1970, that hemp fell under the same classification as marijuana. This act put hemp as a schedule I drug, which would be a federal crime to grow, produce or sell hemp as well as marijuana and all forms of cannabis. This law would remain in effect for decades to come, despite the fact studies were finding medicinal uses with cannabis.
2018 Farm Bill
Well here we are in 2020 and still wondering is hemp legal in the U.S.? In 2018 President Trump sign the Agriculture Improvement Act, paving the way for the reproduction of hemp.
Since then, Federal agencies have rushed to implement new laws and state analogs for the 2020 growing season. Under the USDA memorandum of the 2018 Farm Bill, with approval and a valid USDA license, under a USDA- approved state or Tribal plan or under the 2014 Farm Bill Industrial hemp pilot program, domestic hemp may be grown.
This is a great step forward in many ways for cannabis, but there is much more to accomplish. In fact, we still need the FDA on board. The FDA still has authority over many products that contain cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds, including CBD products. According to the FDA, CBD can not be added to food, as it is still classified as a drug.
The cannabis/hemp industries are making forward progress in their movement and government agencies are becoming more willing to listen.
But there is a lot of gray areas to be worked out, and we still are continuing to work towards appropriate regulatory frameworks for products containing CBD.
So, the answer is, yes hemp is legal or will be legal in the U.S. in the near future, however, it is still classified as a drug through some government agencies. Therefore, products that are derived from cannabis will fall in that gray area mentioned before.
If you have any updates or more information on this subject, please feel free to leave a comment below.