You probably know how the 2018 Farm Bill legalized Delta-8 THC.
It also legalized Delta-9 on a federal level. Yes, that type of THC. The one heavily associated with marijuana.
Well, that's what this blog post is going to cover.
We're going to go over:
- What are farm bills?
- Hemp's Drug Scheduling Before 2018
- The 2018 Farm Bill
- Legal differences of hemp and marijuana
- Delta-9 extracted from hemp
Let's get to it.
What Are Farm Bills?
Farm bills are the primary vehicle for food and agriculture policy in the United States. Traditionally, Congress will convene every five years to handle the revisions and renewals of this encompassing bill.
The first farm bill, the Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA), was passed in 1933 and signed by Roosevelt. With this bill, the government bought livestock and paid farmers subsidies to not plan on their land. So naturally, this helped boost the prices of their goods.
The AAA established the precursor to food stamps as well.
This legislative tradition continues to this day. The term "farm bill" is more or so a moniker for this type of legislation. The official name of the 2018 Farm Bill was the "Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018."
So what did the 2018 Farm Bill do for hemp and Delta-9 legalization?
We'll start with how hemp was treated by the law before the 2018 Farm Bill.
Hemp's Drug Scheduling Before 2018
To fully understand how the 2018 farm bill legalized Delta-9 from hemp, we first need to establish how hemp was viewed by the federal government beforehand.
Hemp has a long history in the United States. From the colonial era to the industrial revolution, hemp was a valuable and versatile crop. It could be used for cloth, paper, rope, and at one point, acting as a sort of piston ring in steam engines.
The stigmatization of hemp and marijuana picked up in the 20th century. In 1937, the Marihuana Tax Act taxed the crop to the point of it not becoming economically viable.
For the most part, there really wasn't a legal distinction between hemp and marijuana.
If you go through the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, you will not find one mention of the word "hemp." Instead, it states:
The term "marihuana" means all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L., whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of such plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such plant, its seeds or resin. Such term does not include the mature stalks of such plant, fiber produced from such stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of such plant, any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such mature stalks (except the resin extracted therefrom), fiber, oil, or cake, or the sterilized seed of such plant which is incapable of germination.
Biologically speaking, hemp and marijuana are the same species - cannabis. This definition clumps both of them together as one.
There is a bit of differentiation for "mature stalks" and their derivatives. This effectively did nothing for hemp. For example, it took until 2004 for North Dakota to become the first state to give licenses for farming hemp in nearly 50 years.
What you need to know is that back then, and until 2018, hemp and marijuana were one and the same in the feds' eyes.
The 2018 Farm Bill
The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 did a lot of things, including:
- Reauthorizing many nutrition programs
- Not adding more requirements for SNAP recipients
- Provide funding for:
- Farmers markets
- Organic farming research
- Farming education
- Veteran and minority farmers
It also incorporated some of the language of the Hemp Farming Act of 2018. In the previous farm bill, there were pilot programs established for hemp agriculture.
The overall goal was to open the gates for the farming and distribution of this historical cash crop.
To do so, it had to make a legal distinction between hemp and marijuana. Thus, in the 2018 Farm Bill, it states:
Hemp.--The term `hemp' means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.
Here are the key takeaways from that text:
- Hemp is cannabis with a Delta-9 THC concentration at no more than 0.3% concentration on a dry weight basis
- The legal definition of "hemp" includes not just the plant but also its extracts and cannabinoids
Legal Differences of Hemp and Marijuana
The 2018 Farm Bill separated hemp from marijuana and made it legal on a federal level. Other states adopted similar measures.
Some people say that the difference between marijuana and hemp is how it's used. Marijuana's use stems from its psychoactive properties. Hemp, on the other hand, is used for industrial purposes such as making ropes, fabrics, oils, and so on.
To Uncle Sam, there is just one main distinction.
Cannabis with a 0.3% or less Delta-9 concentration on a dry weight basis is hemp. Anything above that is marijuana.
Although a historic moment for hemp, marijuana, as of July 20, 2021, remains a Schedule I drug. Although some states have legalized marijuana for medicinal and recreational purposes, it is illegal on a federal level.
This means anything that is considered marijuana cannot:
- Cross state lines
- Be shipped in the mail
- Get transported on a plane
- Be purchased with a debit or credit card (in the majority of circumstances)
Products that fall within the category of hemp can bypass these restrictions.
Delta-9 Extracted From Hemp
Delta-9 THC isn't illegal in every circumstance. It all depends on how it's sourced, along with the percent of concentration on a dry weight basis.
If you’ve ever used a full spectrum or select spectrum hemp product, you’ve used legal Delta 9 THC. All full spectrum hemp (also called full spectrum CBD) has Delta 9 THC in it.
Here's an easier way to think about it.
Let's say you wanted to make a gummy.
To help you picture it in your head better, we'll say it's a strawberry gummy.
Why? Because just about everybody likes strawberries.
If the cannabinoids, at any amount, were extracted from marijuana, that gummy is federally illegal.
If the cannabinoids extracted from hemp have a D9 concentration at a dry weight exceeding 0.3%, it's federally illegal.
However, if the cannabinoids used in this strawberry gummy is sourced from hemp, and its Delta 9 concentration is at 0.3% (or lower), it's federally legal.
Delta-9 needs to meet both criteria to be legal:
- Sourced from hemp
- At a concentration no more than 0.3% dry weight.
Delta-9 THC is illegal in many circumstances, but not all of them.
Just as the 2018 Farm Bill made Delta-8 THC legal on a federal level, Delta-9 was legalized in certain circumstances.
What differentiates hemp and marijuana in the eyes of the law is the Delta-9 THC concentration.
Cannabinoids extracted from hemp that do not exceed a concentration of 0.3% Delta-9 at dry weight are legal.
That's all there is to it.
Did we cover everything?
Is there anything you want to know about Delta-9 legality in the United States?
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