On Thursday President Donald Trump legalized hemp by signing the 2018 Farm Bill. However, that doesn’t mean that recreational marijuana is legal, too.
Hemp comes from the same cannabis plant that produces marijuana. However, marijuana has both cannabidiol (CBD)—a medical compound that has health benefits but won’t induce a high—and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical in the plant that is psychoactive and can give off a high.
Hemp, on the other hand, is produced with nearly 100% CBD. According to the new federal law, hemp is legal as long as it contains no more than 0.3% THC. Anything more than that and it’s illegal under the federal ban on marijuana.
The move to legalize hemp—something activists have advocated for years, and Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pushed heavily to benefit farmers in his home state of Kentucky—paves the way for researchers and medical professionals to investigate how it could be used for medicinal treatment. Hemp can also be used as a material in a variety of other products, including clothing and nutritional supplements.
Many marijuana supporters believe hemp legalization is an essential first step in legalizing marijuana at a federal level. Some states have already legalized medical marijuana and some, including California and Massachusetts, have authorized use for recreational purposes. However, marijuana is still illegal federally, making it difficult for companies in the cannabis industry to find specific vendors and banks from servicing their companies.
As we look ahead, many companies and government organizations are planning to boost their research and work with the hemp plant.