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What are the Hemp Laws in CA? Is Hemp Legal?

Flour hemp in spoon with grain and oil on board

The cannabis industry is rapidly expanding, and cannabis laws and regulations are rapidly changing. As federal and California state laws update to reflect the shift in perception of cannabis and cannabis products, it’s important to keep on top of what is and is not legal, and what regulatory requirements apply to various types of products. Below, our seasoned California cannabis business lawyer explores the laws and regulations surrounding hemp in California.

California Definition for Industrial Hemp

California law distinguishes “industrial hemp” from marijuana and marijuana products. The California Food and Agriculture Code and the Health and Safety Code define industrial hemp as limited to certain types of Cannabis sativa L. that have a certain limited concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Specifically, industrial hemp includes cannabis crops that have a 0.3% or less THC concentration. Hemp includes the seeds, derivatives, extracts, resin, and other crops derived from the cannabis plant with the requisite THC concentration levels.

Hemp is Governed by Different Laws

The California laws and regulations pertaining to the growth, sale, and adult use of marijuana (for medical and recreational uses) generally do not apply to industrial hemp, as hemp has been given a legally distinct definition from marijuana. “Cannabis” is legally defined as Cannabis sativa L. plant with more than .3% THC. Cannabidiol (CBD) can be derived from either cannabis or hemp.

Cultivating and selling hemp is legal in California. There are many regulations to follow, separate from those that apply to cannabis and cannabis products. Each county can apply its own regulations concerning hemp growth and sale.

Federal law pertaining to hemp has also recently changed. Effective January 1, 2019, the federal Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill) removed industrial hemp from Schedule I of the federal Controlled Substance Act. As a result, hemp is no longer regulated as a controlled substance (although marijuana still remains).

CBD Laws Are a Mess

The situation becomes more complicated when it comes to selling CBD and CBD-infused products. Although hemp and cannabis are legally defined, the rules surrounding CBD are less clear. CBD can be found in both cannabis and hemp plants. Even though hemp products are legal in California and federally, and cannabis products are legal to sell in California, the legality of CBD is less clear.

CBD oil sold in a licensed dispensary should be legal now that all marijuana products are legal, but manufacturers have not been given the right to make CBD-infused products in California. The state is waiting on the FDA to make rulings concerning CBD-infused products, and California still prohibits the sale of food and drinks infused with CBD. The sale of CBD oil and CBD products outside of a licensed dispensary in California is also of questionable legality.

California lawmakers have repeatedly introduced bills to address hemp-derived products, and there is one bill currently working its way through the legislature. CBD and CBD-infused products fall within a gray area, making it all the more important to consult with a knowledgeable California cannabis business attorney before making or selling hemp CBD products.

Get Considered Advice and Dedicated Representation from a California Hemp and Cannabis Business Lawyer

If you are interested in setting up a hemp business or are dealing with regulatory, tax, licensing, or other legal issues with your hemp, CBD, or cannabis business in Los Angeles or Southern California, call McReynolds Vardanyan, LLP, in Glendale at 818-855-2115. Our California cannabis business lawyers will work with you to get your budding business off the ground efficiently, effectively, and legally.

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