About Imported VS. Domestic
Surely no member of the vegetable kingdom has ever been more misunderstood than hemp. For many years, emotion, not reason, has guided our policy toward this crop. And nowhere have emotions run hotter than in the debate over the distinction between industrial hemp and marijuana.
Cannabis is the only plant genus that contains the unique class of molecular compounds called cannabinoids. Many cannabinoids have been identified, but two are the most prevalent and most researched: THC, which is the psychoactive ingredient of Cannabis, and CBD, which is an antipsychotic ingredient. One type of Cannabis is high in the psychoactive cannabinoid, THC, and low in the antipsychotic cannabinoid,CBD. This type is popularly known as marijuana. Another type is high in CBD and low in THC. Variants of this type are called industrial hemp. Industrial hemp is the subject of today’s discussion. It’s used to make thousands of products such as clothing, paper, textiles, food, and supplements. Unfortunately, we often see the laws surrounding this plant portrayed incorrectly. Although the legality of hemp may seem like a gray area, it’s something we can hopefully explain by breaking down a few key points.
First, let’s take a look at imported hemp. Did you know, the U.S. imports more hemp than any other country in the world? In 2011, we imported nearly 12 million dollars worth of it. Hemp is primarily imported from China, Canada, and several European countries.
So if we’re importing that much, it’s a safe bet that something about it is legal….and it is.
Hemp, and specifically the hemp oil, can legally be imported into the U.S. from many countries, if it has under .3% THC. That imported hemp oil can then be incorporated into many products and sold in retail or online stores across the country. These products fall into skincare, makeup, food, and supplement categories, among others. It’s important to note that all imported hemp oil is not created equal. Hemp has a fibrous stalk that sucks up nutrients and anything else in the soil it’s grown in. That “anything else” can include pesticides, heavy metals, and other things that you don’t want in your body. These materials are more prevalent in hemp imported from non-European nations.
Some hemp plants don’t contain much CBD, while others are brimming with it. Since there is no set maximum or minimum amount of CBD in hemp, and laws don’t restrict any certain level of it, the CBD strength doesn’t affect imported hemp’s legality.
Next we have domestic hemp. This refers to hemp plants grown on U.S. soil. The federal and state governments are playing a continual tug of war on this issue.
Currently, per the federal government, growing hemp is illegal in the U.S. without a DEA permit. Some statelaws take exception to this and have recently relaxed their cannabis laws. Even with the DEA permit, you’re limited on what the plants can be used for. Either they can only be used for research purposes, or the products made can only be sold within that state, as domestic hemp may not have the same legal status in neighboring states.
With states like Colorado and Washington making marijuana legal for recreational use, and many others legalizing medical marijuana, the nation’s laws and attitudes regarding the cannabis plant are quickly changing. It seems likely that a thriving hemp market will finally develop here.
Until that time, clients located outside of areas with relaxed state cannabis laws should confirm that their hemp supplements are importedfrom a reputable source of industrial hemp. Any established retailer should be able to defend their source with a certificate of authenticity or origin and lab analysis results.