NORML Hemp Policy Statement

Hemp is a distinct variety of the plant species cannabis sativa L. that contains only trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol, the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. It is a tall, slender, fibrous plant similar to flax or kenaf. Various parts of the plant can be utilized in the making of textiles, paper, paints, clothing, plastics, cosmetics, foodstuffs, insulation, animal feed and other products.

Hemp produces a much higher yield per acre than do common substitutes such as cotton and requires few pesticides. In addition, hemp has an average growing cycle of only 100 days and leaves the soil virtually weed-free for the next planting.

The hemp plant is currently harvested for commercial purposes in over 30 nations, including Canada, Japan and the European Union. Hemp is legally recognized as a commercial crop by the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).

In 2014, members of Congress approved language (Section 7606) in the omnibus federal farm bill authorizing states to sponsor hemp research absent federal reclassification of the plant. A majority of states enacted legislation to permit such programs. In the 2018 omnibus federal farm bill, Congress descheduled hemp (as defined as cannabis plants with less than 0.3% THC) and cannabinoids derived from these plants from the Controlled Substance Act. States can now apply to have their commercial industrial hemp programs approved by the USDA.