When many hear the term cannabidiol or CBD, they either have no idea what it is, or they associate it with marijuana because of its similar sound to cannabis. The truth is, when you hear about CBD, most people are talking about the kind derived from hemp. Hemp, which used to be Kentucky’s biggest cash crop, is now making a comeback in the form of CBD oil and products. As Kentuckian’s, some of us may know a bit of hemp’s history in Kentucky and our agricultural economy. However, few may know why hemp declined in popularity, why it is now making a comeback, and how it can affect them.
Many people have a stigma attached to hemp and the CBD oil it produces due to the fact that hemp is a variety of the Cannabis sativa species, the same species that marijuana comes from. Upon hearing the word “Cannabis”, a person comes to associate hemp with marijuana despite hemp having virtually no similarities to the drug. Unlike marijuana, hemp produces small amounts of the psychoactive ingredient that people use to get high (THC) and produces more cannabidiol (CBD). CBD actually decreases, if not eliminates, any psychoactive effects THC may have, meaning hemp cannot be used to produce a high. Due to this fact, hemp is not popular because it is a species of Cannabis plant, but rather for its industrial, nutritional, health uses, and CBD byproduct.
Why Was Hemp Production Banned?
Hemp used to be a major industrial player, especially in the early 20th century during both World Wars. Before tobacco, hemp was Kentucky’s biggest cash crop due to its variety of uses. The fibers are used in paper, textiles, automobiles, fuel, apparel, insulation, and much more. It can be used as a food source as it is high in protein and it also has greater environmental benefits than many of the resources, we use such as cotton and wood. More recently, CBD oil has become more popular and widely used due to its health benefits. It can relieve pain, has neuroprotective properties, reduce anxiety/depression, and may even be useful in substance abuse treatment. However, due to the war on drugs and misplaced fears that hemp was the same as marijuana, hemp production was banned under the Controlled Substance Act of 1970 and as a result, consumable byproducts of hemp. Despite the fact that hemp is still considered a schedule 1 drug, you can walk into many grocery stores and find products that contain CBD such as hemp chocolate and gummies. But is it illegal to buy items like that?
Is Legal Hemp Coming Back to Kentucky?
That depends on who you ask. Hemp and its byproducts are not legalized at the federal level and the DEA still sees hemp and consumable hemp products as illegal. Due to the opioid crisis, however, law enforcement is not overly concerned with seizing chocolate, oils, and other CBD consumables. Further, there are exceptions to the Controlled Substances Act that permit the growing of industrial hemp, creating grey areas that have not been vetted from a legal context. Law enforcement are also not concerned as hemp and CBD may soon be legalized. Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnel has introduced into legislation the Hemp Farming Act of 2018. This would make hemp production legal on the national level. If passed, hemp would be decriminalized and no longer classified as a schedule 1 drug. With the hundreds of uses of hemp, strong research showing it is nothing like marijuana, and the need for more environmentally beneficial resources, legalization of hemp may not be far off.
If hemp production and its byproducts like CBD are FULLY legalized, it will open a new market for Kentuckian’s to dive into. It will also open the door to multiple opportunities in research, development, and business as well as bring more money into the state. However, even if hemp and its byproducts are legalized, there will be many changing laws and regulations surrounding them. It can be hard to keep up with these changes and know how that might affect you, especially when you are not versed in law and the laws surrounding hemp. That is why if you have any questions regarding laws and/or business regulations on hemp and CBD it is important to contact an attorney that is knowledgeable in that area to help you with all your hemp and CBD related needs.
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of anyone else. Any content provided herein is not intended to malign any religion, ethic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.