Over the years, cannabis has been re-introduced into our society on a whole different level. From hemp becoming federally legal to recreational dispensaries…let’s just say there are a lot more options to enjoy this plant than ever before.
The days of dealing with sketchy people with crumbles of herbs that used to be considered “cannabis flower” are gone.
Instead, with the resources available, consumers realize not all cannabis is created equal. Different strains and products can offer various effects, which is why some prefer one over another.
But despite being familiar with these products, you may not know much about the plant. Or the laws that surround it.
If you’ve ever wondered this, you’ve come to the right place. So kick back and get comfortable, because we’re about to dive into the world of cannabis…and so much more.
Cannabis is like an “umbrella term” for marijuana and hemp.
And while you may assume that both are different, they’re the same species that evolved over 28 million years ago.
It is theorized that it originated in Central Asia, with its use dating back thousands of years ago.
Although the laws around this plant have a shaky past, the same practices used by ancient cultures continue to be performed. Simply put…cannabis is historic and evidently, still useful. But the American government does not view hemp and marijuana as the same.
Cannabis Legality: Past To Present
It’s important to note that cannabis is not new in America. And if you believed it was, your history teachers may have left out a lesson or two in American history.
Before the original settlers came to this land, the British and French cultivated cannabis for industrial use. This includes:
- Ship sails
Hemp cultivation offered various advantages to governments throughout the world, as it made products that were durable and long-lasting, so it became suitable for trade on an international level.
By the early 1600s, our first settlers arrived on this land and began growing cannabis to produce the items above. For over a century, cannabis continued to be valuable in society until propaganda made its way to the surface.
During the 1890s, Mexican migrant laborers slowly made their way to America due to mining and agriculture opportunities. However, the U.S. didn’t see a vast movement until the Mexican Revolution occurred from 1910 to 1920. During that period, immigrants and refugees fled Mexico to find a haven in the U.S.
As the number of families increased, their cultures and practices were shared with other Americans, including the recreational use of cannabis. Due to prejudice and misinformation, the narrative of cannabis quickly changed. And a few short years later, the Marijuana Act of 1937 passed. This bill made hemp production nearly impossible because the taxes to cultivate it were gauged to the point that it was not sustainable.
Over 30 years later, the federal government passed the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 and made all forms of cannabis federally illegal and a Schedule I Drug. According to the eyes of the law, there was no difference between hemp and marijuana.
The 2018 Farm Bill
Although there were obstacles, cannabis rights leaders and activists fought to end the cannabis prohibition. This led to the authorization of medical and recreational marijuana in some states. However, there wasn’t a massive impact until the 2018 Farm Bill.
After decades of protests and some states amending their laws, the federal government legally separated hemp from marijuana and made it federally legal by passing the 2018 Farm Bill. According to the document, the production and sale of hemp products are federally legal. All cannabinoids and parts of the plant are authorized. Including up to 0.3% of hemp-derived Delta-9 THC on a dry-weight basis.
The Legal Differences: Hemp Vs. Marijuana
Let’s take a step back and focus on hemp and marijuana. If they’re the same species, why do they have different laws?
Although hemp was removed as a Schedule I Drug, marijuana remains there due to its active properties. To our government, the only distinction is the concentration limit. As stated above, hemp is cannabis with 0.3% or less of Delta 9 by dry weight. If the threshold is exceeded, it’s considered marijuana.
This distinction is small yet makes a massive difference in terms of legal status. As of this writing, recreational marijuana is legal in 19 States:
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- Rhode Island
However, hemp is legal in all 50 states, with hemp-derived Delta 8 THC legal in most. Along with this, hemp is allowed to:
- Cross state lines
- Be purchased with a debit or credit card
- Ordered online
- Be shipped in the mail
- Be on some domestic flights (not all airlines, so contact the airline to confirm)
Marijuana cannot do any of the above, and doing so with marijuana-derived products could lead to problems with the law.
What Are Cannabis Strains?