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Los Angeles Hemp Business Lawyers

Eleven states and the District of Columbia have legalized the recreational sale and use of cannabis.  Forty-seven out of 50 states currently recognize some form of medical marijuana, although many states impose severe restrictions.  Federal law still treats cannabis as a Schedule I drug, illegal for any purposes, medicinal or otherwise.  The interaction of all of these laws and regulations is extremely complicated, and it is easy to fall into liability.

Hemp and CBD are distinct from marijuana, however.  Even the federal government has taken steps to legally distinguish hemp and CBD, as well as other cannabinoids derived from hemp, from marijuana, rendering those products legal even under federal law.  If you are interested in starting a hemp business, or if you are already operating a hemp or CBD manufacturing or distribution business, you need a seasoned and effective legal advocate on your side.  Hemp and CBD are a growing industry, and the laws are constantly changing.  The California hemp business lawyers at McReynolds Vardanyan, LLP are at the forefront of this rapidly-changing industry and are ready to help you get your hemp business up and running.

What is the Difference Between Marijuana and Hemp?

It is important to identify the difference between hemp and marijuana, for both legal and practical purposes.  Marijuana and industrial hemp both come from the cannabis plant.  If the plant contains less than three-tenths of a percent (0.3%) of the psychoactive molecule delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the plant is considered industrial hemp.  Hemp, unlike marijuana, does not get you “high.”

Hemp has a variety of uses, including:

  • Providing high tensile-strength rope
  • Extracting useful, lifesaving, pain-relieving, and non-psychotropic cannabinoids including cannabidiol (CBD), cannabigerol (CBG), cannabichromene (CBC) and cannabinol (CBN) for pharmaceutical purposes
  • Producing biofuels
  • Producing plastics and building materials
  • Producing fabrics for clothing
  • Producing food products, including tea and ice cream
  • Producing an environmentally-friendly paper product

California Hemp and CBD Laws

Since 2013, the definition of “marijuana” under the California Health and Safety Code explicitly excludes industrial hemp.  California law apparently allows for the industrial growing, manufacturing, and commercial distribution of hemp and hemp products.  The industrial hemp industry is regulated by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA).  Growers of industrial hemp must register with the county agricultural commissioner prior to cultivation, although the requirements for registration are continually changing.

Hemp and CBD products have been on the shelves in California long before the legalization of recreational marijuana.  The legality of such CBD products has been somewhat of a legal gray area.  The same goes for industrial hemp products–there are restrictions on which types of products can be produced and distributed, but the rules are convoluted, unclear, and inconsistently enforced.  Even the California laws that authorize industrial hemp production and distribution were meant to be subject to co-existing federal laws. The federal government, as we discuss below, legalized the commercial cultivation of industrial hemp in 2018, giving effect to California laws doing the same at least as of January 1, 2019.

The general point here is that hemp cultivation is nominally legal in California, with a variety of restrictions and complicated interactions with federal law.  If you are interested in pursuing industrial hemp cultivation as a business or manufacturing or distributing hemp or CBD products, it is vital that you retain a knowledgeable and detail-oriented hemp business lawyer to help you along in the process.  The last thing you want is to open your business and yourself up to criminal or regulatory liability because of a technical error.

Federal Hemp Law

In December 2018, Congress passed the Farm Bill.  The Farm Bill legalized hemp as an agricultural commodity in the U.S. and removed hemp products (those with less than 0.3% THC) from the definition of marijuana in the U.S. Controlled Substances Act.  The DEA had already removed CBD products with less than 0.1% THC from the Schedule 1 narcotic list, although it kept CBD as a Schedule V drug (the same as many over-the-counter medicines).

Federal law still limits the transportation of hemp and CBD products across state and national lines, and there are strict limitations on what counts as a permissible hemp product as opposed to marijuana.  Federal agencies have been instructed not to interfere with hemp businesses that comply with state law, but there are many complicated interactions between the laws.

If you have a hemp business, you need solid advice and representation to protect your business, your employees, your customers, and yourself from federal liability.  The hemp business lawyers at McReynolds Vardanyan are here to help you mitigate your risks, ensure compliance wherever possible, and advise you on the best approach for dealing with taxes and other legal issues.

Our Hemp Business Lawyers are Ready to Help You

If you are interested in setting up a hemp business in Los Angeles or Southern California, or if you have questions regarding your hemp or CBD business, call McReynolds Vardanyan, LLP in Glendale at 818-855-2115. Our California hemp lawyers are available 24/7 and are ready to help you step through the legal hoops necessary to get your budding business off the ground effectively, efficiently, and legally.

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