The subject of hemp is a great controversy in America, with a grey line about the legality of the cannabis plant depending on where you live. This article will clarify some of the misconceptions of state laws regarding industrial hemp and its many byproducts and let you know whether your state is one of the 14 states that can legally produce hemp seeds.
When it comes to cannabis, laws vary from state to state and continue to change as new legislation is passed. Currently there are thirteen states with statutes establishing commercial industrial hemp programs. This means that the following 14 states can legally grow and process industrial hemp and hemp seeds: CA, CO, IN, KY, MA, MO, ND, OR, SC, TN, VT, VA, NC and WV. While seven (7) other states have also passed laws establishing industrial hemp programs, they are limited to agricultural or academic research purposes only.
Interestingly enough, of the 14 states mentioned above, only four states and the District of Columbia have legalized the use of recreational marijuana. There are also another 19 other states, plus D.C. currently legalizing cannabis use in other forms, such as medical marijuana and industrial hemp, which have different legalities.
When used for agricultural or nutritional purposes, the pros far outreach the negative, which should be considered in reversing the illegal status of the hemp plant.
Recently, many states are beginning to weigh the positive benefits of producing hemp crops. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), several states have decided to promote the development of industrial hemp production. They intend on using hemp seeds, fiber and core for a wide range of products such as fuel, fabrics, and plastic, as well as materials for construction, textiles and paper, and food products for the nutritional benefits.
While more and more states are legalizing industrial hemp, there are still states that have not moved for any type of legalization. The states that have passed laws to legalize industrial hemp have limited the purpose and put restrictions on farming and production practices. These laws are strictly enforced so it’s important to know which ones apply in each state.
The laws in each state that allow farmers to legally produce hemp seeds vary. California for instance, requires industrial hemp growers to be registered with the state and prohibits the possession of resin and certain parts of the hemp plant, according to the California Industrial Hemp Farming Act in September 2013.
The Hemp Act conditionally permits the growth and cultivation of industrial hemp in California and limits those who may grow or cultivate industrial hemp to two kinds of entities: educational institutions, and state agriculture departments.
Colorado in comparison permits growing and possession of industrial hemp by registered persons for commercial, research and developmental purposes. The state is also working on establishing industrial hemp registration and hemp seed certification programs.
Legalizing industrial hemp again – after 80 years of being banned – has many hurdles to cross. While the federal government continues to classify hemp as an illegal drug, it does allow hemp to be grown within the guidelines of state specific laws, but only for select purposes under registered persons.
Overall, hemp farmers in all 14 states must be registered in order to produce hemp seeds, whether their state allows for the production of hemp for commercial industrial programs, or industrial research programs.
Written by Jenna Morasco