What is Hemp?

Hemp refers to the non-psychoactive varieties of Cannabis grown by farmers throughout the world for agricultural and industrial purposes. Hemp is one of nature’s strongest and most versatile agricultural crops and has many commercial uses. Various parts of the plant may be utilized for making paper, textiles, cosmetics, paints, clothing, foodstuffs, insulation, and animal feed. It produces a much higher yield per acre than substitutes such as wood pulp and cotton and requires virtually no pesticides. Farmers in over 30 countries-including Canada, France, England, Germany, Japan, and Australia-commercially grow hemp for industrial purposes.

Federal lawmakers included language in the 2014 omnibus Farm Bill authorizing states to sponsor industrial hemp research through agricultural pilot programs, notwithstanding prohibitions under the Controlled Substances Act. This change in law allowed licensed U.S. farmers to legally grow hemp for the first time since World War II.

After four years of research, the 2018 omnibus Farm Bill fully descheduled commercial hemp production in the United States, removing “hemp” and “tetrahydrocannabinols in hemp” from the Controlled Substances Act. The Hemp Production Program is regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture. States and Tribal governments can now apply to have their commercial industrial hemp programs approved by the USDA and cultivators would require a permit.

Hemp is defined in U.S. federal law as “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.”