What is Hemp?
Hemp is an incredibly versatile crop that has been around for thousands of years. It is grown worldwide for its fiber, seed, and oil that are used to produce a diverse amount of industrial and consumer products, including rope, textiles, clothing, shoes, food products and supplements, animal feed, cosmetics, paper, bioplastics, various construction materials, insulations, and biofuel.
What’s the Difference Between Hemp and Marijuana?
Hemp is commonly confused as being the same as marijuana, but this isn’t exactly the case. Both plants are a variety of the same species, Cannabis sativa L. And although they share a similar appearance, it’s their chemical properties that make them distinct.
Marijuana is characterized by high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and low levels of cannabidiol (CBD). This abundance of THC is what gives marijuana its well-known psychoactive effects. In contrast, hemp is characterized by a high concentration of (CBD) and contains only the smallest traces of THC. CBD produces no psychoactive effects on its own, and the limited presence of THC in hemp isn’t enough to cause any reactions.
It is important to note that the apparent benefits of CBD don’t change whether it is derived from hemp or marijuana. The only difference is the amount of CBD that is able to be extracted. Since hemp has significantly lower amounts of THC, it is the plant of choice for many manufacturers specializing in CBD products.
Cannabis products containing more than 0.3% THC are classified as Schedule I drugs by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and are therefore illegal (at least in states where the recreational use of cannabis has not yet been legalized). Hemp-derived CBD typically contains less than this percentage, so it’s a safer choice than marijuana-derived CBD in terms of legality and consumption.
The cultivation and use of hemp products can be traced back to the very beginnings of recorded history, where it was first used for food, pottery, and medicine. Slowly over centuries it spread around the world before being introduced to America in the early 1600s.
Hemp quickly became a staple crop in American history. Farmers in the colonies were required by law to grow hemp, with many of America’s founding fathers advocating for its benefits and growing it themselves.
However, the mid-20th century marked the beginning of hemp stigmatization. The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 was the first official restriction on hemp and other cannabis varieties. The act regulated the importation, cultivation, possession and/or distribution of cannabis and placed a tax on all cannabis sales, including hemp. The alleged purpose of the tax act was to discourage the plan’s use in recreational drugs, while still permitting for industrial usage. But the heavy taxes placed on hemp sales led to a sharp decline in production after this period.
Steady anti-drug sentiment from the public eventually led to the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 which discourages hemp production altogether. The law did not distinguish between varieties of the cannabis plant, consequently classifying hemp as an illegal Schedule I drug, and placed strict controls on its production by making it illegal to grow the crop without a permit from the DEA.
The Controlled Substances Act remained the prevailing federal law on cannabis up until the passage of the Agricultural Act of 2014, also known as the 2014 Farm Bill. This bill established a legal definition of industrial hemp (a cannabis plant containing no more than 0.3% THC by dry weight), ditched the requirement for a DEA permit and enabled states to implement hemp research and state agricultural pilot programs that allowed farmers to cultivate cannabis (provided that they meet the requirements set by their state).
The Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, also known as the 2018 Farm Bill, took the hemp provisions from the previous bill even further. It removed hemp from the legal definition of marijuana within the Controlled Substances Act and granted it a broader definition that now explicitly includes extracts and cannabinoids derived from the plant. This means that hemp and hemp-derived products with less than 0.3% THC are federally legal.
Also included in the bill,
- States are permitted to expand hemp cultivation beyond small pilot programs, provided they submit a plan to regulate it to the USDA.
- The transfer of hemp and hemp-derived products are allowed across state lines for commercial and other
- No restrictions are placed on the sale of hemp-derived products, provided that those products are
produced consistent with all applicable laws.
- Further authorizes crop insurance for hemp.
- Provides funding for hemp research.
A Look Into the Future
Ultimately, the passage of both Farm Bills and more recent legislation has been positive for both the industrial hemp and CBD industries. Hemp and CBD have overcome much of their historical stigmatization, but they still face plenty of obstacles when it comes to commercialization.
It was widely thought that CBD was completely legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill, but the FDA issued a statement not long after its passage that marketing CBD as a food or dietary supplement remains illegal. The FDA is the only federal agency with authority over the marketing and sale of hemp-derived products, but they have yet to classify CBD and establish these regulations. Because of CBD’s steady growth in popularity, states have taken it upon themselves to regulate the industry in part for consumers’ safety.
Muddy Boot Botanicals is committed to providing the highest quality, all-natural CBD products at an affordable price. The extraction and refinement of all our CBD oil takes place in the Pacific Northwest and Colorado. In addition, all outside product sourced by Muddy Boot is analyzed by Seth through High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC), which using UV detection to analyze specific compounds in a product. After in-house analysis, all extracts are sent for third-party testing to a DEA-certified, accredited laboratory that test for a variety of parameters, including: cannabinoid potency, pesticides, heavy metals, residual solvents, mycotoxins, microbial growth, and more. The most recent lab results of all our products are available to view alongside a specific product.
We don’t cut corners in production or distort the beneficial claims associated with CBD. The research is still out on all the things that CBD can do, but we believe in what it has done for us, and even more in what it could do for you.
About the Author
Sarah Vilcnik is a student at the University of Central Florida with a focus in technical writing. Take a look at Sarah’s portfolio at https://skvilcnik.wixsite.com/portfolio.