Is Hemp Cultivation a Federal Crime?

Hemp is legal in the United States, but with serious restrictions. The U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and state departments of agriculture have approved pilot programs to study hemp (often labeled as “industrial hemp”).

This has allowed for the small-scale expansion of hemp cultivation for limited purposes. Within 60 days of receiving a state or tribal plan for hemp production, the USDA, in consultation with the U. Attorney General, must approve or reject the plan. If a state or tribe renounces the development of a plan, or the USDA revokes an approved plan, the state or Indian tribe will be subject to a hemp production plan established by the USDA.

The USDA must submit annually to Congress a report containing updates on the implementation of hemp production programs. The USDA is authorized to conduct audits of state and tribal governments to verify their compliance with an approved plan. For the first case of non-compliance, the USDA may require a corrective action plan. Subsequent non-compliance may result in the USDA's approval of the plan being revoked.

The FDA is concerned about claims about cannabis-containing products, particularly the promotion of certain foods and dietary supplements containing CBD. The FDA opposes these claims on the basis of “drug claims”, that is, for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of diseases, or to affect the structure or function of the body. Epidiolex is the first FDA-approved drug containing a substance derived from marijuana. As part of its new drug application, GW Pharmaceuticals submitted three randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials, as well as clinical and non-clinical studies to demonstrate the low potential for abuse that CBD represents.

The FDA's approval of Epidiolex meant that the drug no longer met the criteria for inclusion in Annex I of the CSA because the drug has a currently accepted medical use, and the DEA later moved Epidiolex to Schedule V, which is the least restrictive CSA program. In addition to product statements, the FDA has stated that CBD products are excluded from the definition of a dietary supplement due to clinical investigations of drugs containing CBD, such as Epidiolex. According to the FDCA, if research on a substance is authorized as a new drug for which substantial clinical research has been instituted and made public, any product containing that substance falls outside the definition of a dietary supplement. CBD regulation is about to play a leading role in an upcoming FDA public meeting to discuss cannabis and cannabis-derived compounds regulation. Possession of any quantity of marijuana is a misdemeanor under federal law. The question of how much marijuana is a serious crime only comes into play when a person grows or sells marijuana, but is not relevant when accused of possession. The provisions of the Farm Bill on reporting violations to the DOJ raise the question: What can the DOJ do about such violations? In this case, any product containing CBD extract not approved by the FDA would remain in Annex I and would not meet the definition of hemp in the Agricultural Act; its production or distribution would be subject to prosecution under the CSA just like any other controlled substance. States and indigenous tribes operating under approved hemp production plans must notify the USDA of any occurrence of non-compliant plants or plant materials and provide a record of removal of those plants and materials on a monthly basis.

This law legalized industrial cultivation of hemp which contains less than 0.3% THC (THC is the chemical substance in cannabis that causes people to get high). In Texas for example any amount of THC is illegal including 0.3% found in federally legal industrial hemp. Continue reading to learn about hemp production plans guidelines for sampling and testing procedures removal of plants that do not meet necessary requirements compliance with enforcement provisions inspections submission of license and other relevant information to USDA and requirements.

Lloyd Pintello
Lloyd Pintello

Incurable pizza nerd. Coffee lover. Wannabe web enthusiast. General music lover. Infuriatingly humble sushi evangelist.