My blog is dedicated to the exploration of industrial hemp in America including the rich history of all forms of cannabis, the evolving law and politics of hemp and marijuana, the many products made from cannabis and the capacity, real or imagined, of hemp to re-industrialize rural America and revitalize the American family farm.
Hemp is really coming into its own in the United States, and cultivators are popping up in more and more states as the uses, effects, and future uses of the cannabis plant are studied more. Despite the fact that hemp is not psychoactive, outdated laws in the United States often prevent it from being used to help our soil, our industries, our farmers, and our pocketbooks -- federal law needs to reflect the societal changes in views of both hemp and marijuana, and that day is coming soon. I’m going to take a look here at what hemp is, the legality of hemp, where it’s legal, and which states are making progress with industrial hemp bills right now. Read on!!
Where is Hemp Legal?
Industrial hemp cultivation is legal in 16 states for commercial purposes, and about 20 states have passed laws allowing pilot industrial hemp programs and research programs, often connected with state universities. Seven states, including Colorado where Green Lotus Hemp is based, have approved commercial, pilot, and research programs. All in all, about 33 states have approved some sort of industrial hemp cultivation. Those states are:
(Make sure you check your state laws carefully if you want to cultivate hemp; some states like California, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Montana, and Virginia have a commercial hemp regulating framework in place, but cultivation is still considered illegal outside of research facilities under federal law. There is an interactive and very helpful map here.)
What is Hemp?
In the simplest terms, hemp is a cannabis plant grown with less than .3% THC (the federal legal limit for hemp) and primarily grown for use of its fiber, seeds, and phyto-cannabinoid rich extract. This limit prevents the euphoric “high” caused by consuming marijuana. Oils and tinctures can be made from hemp seed, oil and whole plant extracts. Hemp is simple to grow, and has provided centuries of cultivation for our planet – we believe that hemp cultivation started about 12,000 years in the past. Hemp fiber can and has been used for manufacturing 25,000 products from paper, clothing, shoes, rope, and canvas for ship sails and automotive parts and food products. Hemp can also now be used for making nutritional oils, plastics, and building materials.
Hemp is legal to cultivate in 28 states today, and under the 2014 Agricultural Act (or “Farm Bill” as it’s known), each state can pass legislation to make industrial hemp cultivation legal. Colorado, where Green Lotus Hemp is based, is an example of a state that has legalized hemp cultivation. Check your state government website to see if hemp farming is legal in your state. Hemp is different than marijuana, another popular variety of the cannabis plant. Hemp, if smoked or ingested, will not produce euphoria or a “high.” Marijuana will. Hemp plants are usually tall, and cultivated for their seeds and stalk, where the strong fiber of the plant resides. Let’s take a look at which states are working on which hemp bills, shall we?
Hemp Bills in Colorado
On March 10, 2017, the Colorado State Legislature passed the Hemp Animal Feed Bill unanimously, which will study the use of hemp products for animal feed. This study may lead to growing hemp for livestock feed, which would be easier on the planet and easier on people who consume the livestock. Did I mention that this bill passed unanimously??? The proposed Hemp Foods Bill in Colorado is in negotiations with the CDPHE, and would allow hemp products, cosmetics, supplements, foods, and food additives from industrial hemp. For all you entrepreneurs out there, a new business that uses hemp for building materials for homes will open in Montrose, Colorado, soon called Hemp Adobe. Check it out and support hemp businesses if you can.
Texas’ Bill to Legalize Industrial Hemp
On March 20, 2017, a bill was introduced to the Texas House that would make production and processing of industrial hemp legal. The bill is called House Bill 3587 (HB3587) and was introduced by Republican State Rep. Bill Zedler. The bill is currently with the Agriculture & Livestock division, and would allow hemp-derived products to be used for human consumption, animal consumption, and fiber production for product manufacturing. A licensing and regulating body would also be set up in the state, and fees would apply to cultivators, creating an additional source of revenue for the state of Texas. Sounds like a great idea to me! Get out there and vote when this bill is approved if you live in the Lone Star state.
Alaska’s Hemp Bill
Senator Shelly Hughes, a Republican from Alaska, has filed S.B.6, which would legalize industrial hemp production in the Last Frontier, and possibly prevent industrial hemp cultivators from being prosecuted under state law. Alaska’s law would also allow hemp to be grown just like corn, wheat, or any other crop in the state, negating the need for a separate licensing and regulation structure.
Pending Federal Legislation on Industrial Hemp
There are more hemp educators and interested cultivators going to town on industrial hemp in states like South Carolina, Kentucky, Oregon, California, and New Hampshire -- check out those stories here.
In addition to these hemp bills, S. 134 (the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015) has been introduced to the Senate, and would amend the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to exclude industrial hemp from the marihuana definition completely, meaning that it would be completely legal under federal law.
H.R. 525 is similar. The act is currently with the Committee of the Judiciary -- write your senators and let them know you support this act. The Tenth Amendment Center of Alaska recommends that the United States federal government and every state who hasn’t already legalized industrial hemp cultivation consider both removing it from the CSA and creating a full licensing and regulatory structure. Get out there and support hemp in your state!