Policy Guides

The Essential Guide to Cannabis: Agriculture

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Hemp was legalized in the 2018 Farm Bill

Hemp is cannabis that has less than 0.3 percent THC content. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pushed for hemp legalization in the hopes that it would revitalize Kentucky’s farm economy. 

Hemp can be used to produce CBD. Research is limited, but many experts say that hemp-based CBD is not as potent as full-spectrum CBD that comes from marijuana. Not all hemp products, however, contain CBD. Hemp oil is a separate product used in everything from lotion to chapstick. Hemp can also be used to make paper, clothing, and a host of other products.

Hemp is legal to produce and to use, but most CBD products are still not federally legal to sell, because the FDA has not created guidelines and approved products yet. That still hasn’t stopped everyone from coffee shops in New York to beverage companies in Colorado from adding hemp-based CBD drops or “tincture” to their products and selling them. The FDA has tried to remind people that it needs to actually approve specific CBD products before anyone can sell them, and states like New York have tried to crack down on sales, but CBD infusion is a huge money grab. A 12 oz jar of honey typically costs around $7. But infused with CBD, a 6 oz jar can sell for $55. 

Whether it is hemp or full-spectrum cannabis, most states have folded cannabis agriculture regulations into their existing agricultural framework. A great example of this is California. California exports twice as much in agricultural products than any other state in the nation. It also has extensive agricultural regulations, and the cannabis industry is no different. Getting into the cannabis market in California takes a lot of capital, both for the licenses themselves and also to bring farmlands up to regulation. 

Know the Terms
  • Indoor cannabis: Grown in a greenhouse or a building, typically in a more controlled environment, often with higher THC content. Can be grown anywhere.

  • Outdoor cannabis: Best regions to grow cannabis outside are Southern Oregon and Northern California, because cannabis needs a specific climate of good sunlight, warm days and nights (but not too hot), a lot of water, and low air humidity to thrive. Outdoor grows often yield more well-rounded and ‘vigorous’ plants than those grown in artificial light. 

  • Hemp-based CBD: Cannabidiol that has less than 0.3% THC content. It is legal to grow under the farm act, but most CBD products are not yet legal to sell until the FDA creates guidelines and approves products.

Download the full chapter here.

Read more from POLITICO Pro Cannabis here

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