As the nation continues to debate cannabis, it’s becoming increasingly clear that a key difference between the two plants is how they’re used. While marijuana is typically associated with smoking or ingesting THC-rich buds and leaves, hemp (which has less than 0.3% THC) is used for everything from clothing and food to paper and fuel.
The latter may seem like a small distinction at first glance, but as more states legalize marijuana in one form or another, the legality of hemp is also being called into question. As we’ve reported before, the US Department of Agriculture has long allowed farmers to grow industrial hemp without needing to obtain an individual permit, effectively legalizing its cultivation across the country. But now, some are pushing for this same policy to apply to the “flower” portion of the plant, which contains high amounts of CBD.
“We think that if you have legal hemp flower, then you’ll have legal hemp oil,” said Richard Jackson, executive director of the Cannabis Therapy Institute, during a meeting last month hosted by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
He added that federal law currently allows only for the cultivation of hemp seeds, not flowers, so legalization of hemp flower would help farmers who want to extract CBD from their plants — but the potential for profit is huge.
Not only does the sale of CBD products generate millions of dollars each year, but there are also concerns about whether or not the industry will remain profitable when recreational pot finally becomes legal nationwide in 2022.
Legalizing hemp flower could net big money
Last week, Colorado became the second state to consider allowing the production of CBD flower. If the bill passes, it would allow businesses to sell both raw and processed CBD flower, which includes oils and edibles containing CBD that can be sold legally under the Food and Drug Administration’s dietary supplement guidelines.
The proposal was put forth by Democratic State Sen. Vicki Marble, who has become a leader on cannabis issues since she helped pass Colorado’s medical marijuana law back in 2000. Her new bill, SB 18-1004, is a companion measure to House Bill 1266, which passed in February and would allow adults to possess up to an ounce of dried flower or 1/8th of an ounce of liquid flower. The bill also would make it illegal to drive while impaired by marijuana, just as alcohol intoxication offenses are treated in Colorado.
According to Marble, the legislation would provide an estimated $20 million in tax revenue for the state, which could go towards funding education initiatives and other programs.
But opponents of the bill argue that the proposal is too broad and would open the door to widespread recreational use of cannabis.
Hemp flower are one of the most used flowers in all types of CBD flowers and people love them from all other types of flowers which are available. People love this because this type of flower is very simple for usage and anyone can use it on regular basis. If anyone is using it on regular basis then it is advisable to stat it small.
“It’s going to open up our entire recreational market,” Republican State Rep. Kevin Priola told CBS 4 Denver in April. “It’s going to create chaos.”
Priola said his constituents were worried about the financial burden of enforcement costs and the ability of law enforcement officers to differentiate between CBD oil and regular weed. He argued that the current law already provides sufficient guidance for police to enforce the current ban on driving stoned. “I think what we need to do is stay the course,” he said.
Police say upholding laws would be impossible
During a hearing last week, representatives from various agencies testified before lawmakers to discuss the pros and cons of legalizing CBD flower. Police officers made clear that enforcing rules against cannabis flower would be difficult, because the product isn’t necessarily easy to detect.
Cannabis flower is very different from the CBD extracted from it. In addition to the presence of THC, which makes someone feel intoxicated, cannabis flower also often contains CBD, along with hundreds of other chemicals — many of which are psychoactive. And while some people might assume that CBD itself is harmless, the amount of THC found in the product can vary widely depending on the strain and the extraction method.
When asked if it would be possible to distinguish between CBD flower and actual marijuana, one officer testified that it’s actually quite difficult, because “you don’t know what they’ve been eating, drinking, using, smoking, vaping, rubbing, bathing, etc. for the last 24 hours.”
“It’s impossible at best to tell what any given person has ingested for any length of time,” he added. “And this is a substance that is so ubiquitous today that even the most dedicated drug dogs won’t pick it up.”
Another officer noted that even though the amount of THC found in CBD products has fallen over the years, the amount of THC in cannabis flower is still relatively high, particularly when compared to other plants. Even if someone wanted to get a warrant and search a home for cannabis flower, it would likely require a large sample — which is something that’s almost impossible to pull off discreetly.
“There are no guarantees whatsoever that the police department is going to come knock on your door to conduct a search warrant for cannabis flower,” added the same officer. “They would have to go through a lot of hoops to obtain a warrant and it would be very difficult to execute such a search warrant.”
In short, the officer said that it would be nearly impossible to enforce a rule prohibiting the possession of CBD flower.