Thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, the ban on hemp has been raised after decades of it being dubbed illegal. Today, hemp has been removed as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, and it is now recognized as a viable agricultural commodity. Since the bill was passed and signed into law, hemp farming has become a legal practice across the country – given that a state submits its hemp farming program to the United States Department of Agriculture.
Illinois is one of the majority of states that have finally submitted their own set of regulations to manage and oversee the growing of hemp within their borders. These guidelines don’t only police the efforts of farmers and processors, but also help to ensure the safety of the end users where the final products of farming will serve their purpose.
Across the United State, the 2018 Farm Bill illustrates the kind of hemp that should be considered legal. That is, any part of the Cannabis sativa L. plant whether growing or harvested, including its seeds, stalks, and derivatives, as long as it contains no more than 0.3% of tetrahydrocannabinol. To qualify each batch, the state’s Department of Agriculture takes samples from each harvest to third-party lab testing facilities that quantify the amount of THC. If the batch passes, then they can be sent off to a processing partner.
These strict measures are what helps legislators guarantee that what’s being distributed into the market is legal hemp and not marijuana. The illegal substance marijuana comes from the exact same plant – Cannabis sativa L. – but contains higher doses of THC. In effect, marijuana inspires that iconic cannabis high that legislators once believed was also caused by hemp.
Just like in other states, growers in Illinois are not allowed to sell their product directly to consumers. The crucial role of processors helps to guarantee that the products delivered to buyers are quality CBD formulations that meet the stipulated THC levels. So, these days, most of the products you’ll find on the CBD and hemp market have actually passed from facility to facility to guarantee your safety.
While there are quite a number of CBD specialty stores available to the general public, there’s no better place to buy CBD than online. Most retailers flock to the web to offer their products because the 2018 Farm Bill has made the shipping and mailing of hemp flower and hemp-derived products completely legal.
Today, there’s no doubt that the best place to find CBD products is online. Just make sure you perform the necessary due diligence before you click through to check out. Ask for third-party lab test results and read up on the history of the brand you’re dealing with to get a better idea of the quality of the hemp flower or CBD products you’re buying.
The whole nine yards. From smokables, to edibles, to topicals and more, the range of products that you can purchase in Illinois is essentially the entire spectrum that’s made available by existing brands. These include pet care products, self-care products, topical creams, lotions, salves, hemp flower, pre-rolls, cigarettes, cigars, edibles, and everything else you can think of.
Ultimately, the question isn’t really what type of product you’re buying, but the kind of hemp used to make it. According to the law, any part or derivative of the Cannabis sativa L. plant is considered legal to use, buy, sell, and distribute as long as it meets the federal requirements for THC content. So as long as a formulation has less than or equal to 0.3%, you should be able to buy, use, and possess it within the state of Illinois.
That’s still a bit of a gray area. If we’re being technical, hemp is a legal agricultural commodity. That means you can own it, buy it, and use it without any legal repercussions as long as it contains no more than 0.3% of THC. The problem is that law enforcement agents have yet to devise a way to distinguish hemp from its brother, marijuana.
In Illinois, medical marijuana is a thriving economy. Individuals with qualified medical conditions can apply for a medical marijuana license, allowing them to buy and use the regulated herb legally. On the other hand, recreational marijuana use remains illegal and punishable by law.
What’s the issue? Well, because legal hemp and recreational marijuana can’t be told apart by looks or smell, individuals caught in possession of or using hemp in public will be treated as though they were apprehended with marijuana until a lab test can prove that the herb in question is actually hemp.
To spare yourself the trouble, it would be wise to stay away from public spaces with hemp in your possession. If you need a dose of CBD while you’re away from home, then you might want to consider other forms like edibles, tinctures, and oils that can be much safer to use in public spheres.
Not yet, but things are looking bright for hemp enthusiasts. As of January 2020, approved medical marijuana users have been given the right to grow a maximum of 5 cannabis plants at home. Keep note that these plants will produce marijuana and not hemp, in the hope of helping medical users attain easier access to the medicinal herb. Presently however, hemp still remains illegal to grow without a permit.
The reason for this is simple – local government officials and the Illinois Department of Agriculture regulate hemp production in order to secure the ties that bind recreational marijuana use. Since recreational marijuana remains illegal, home grown hemp poses a threat to the regulation.
If a home cultivator produces a harvest that doesn’t meet the THC levels required by law, then unregulated hemp might find its way into the market, causing a spread of recreational marijuana. Unless legislators come up with a way to regulate private gardens, or if they’re able to cultivate a seed that’s guaranteed to produce legally compliant hemp, then growing hemp at home remains a dream.
To legally grow hemp in Illinois, applicants need to submit a duly accomplished application form to the Illinois Department of Agriculture. Along with the form, applicants are also required to submit information on the growing site, a map depicting its facilities, and a processing fee. License renewal should be completed annually.
The hemp industry has come a long way from how it used to be decades ago. With the 2018 Farm Bill, we’ve seen a complete turnaround, paving the way for a flourishing hemp market throughout the country. For growers, processors, and buyers, the hemp climate in Illinois can be described as ideal, providing opportunities for everyone and creating a positive symbiotic relationship between stakeholders.
Down the line, we’re hoping to see more freedom, including direct-to-consumer farming, at-home hemp gardening, and better field tests to differentiate marijuana and hemp on the spot. For the meantime though, there’s really nothing to complain about.
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