Although hemp isn’t native to Kentucky, the Bluegrass State was once the largest cultivator of industrial hemp in both the 19th and 20th centuries. At the time, Kentucky was popular as the source of one-third of all hemp fiber produced in the United States. That was until the War on Drugs which illegalized hemp manufacturing in the 1950’s. During the time, hemp was seen as a substance no different from marijuana, being that they both come from the Cannabis sativa L. plant.
But today, the tides of the Kentucky hemp industry are changing thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill which legalizes the regulated production of hemp and its derivatives. Since then, hemp has once again soared as a major commodity in the state of Kentucky. However, it isn’t without red tape on both the buyers and sellers’ ends.
Under the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp is unlisted as a Schedule I narcotic under the Controlled Substances Act – as long as it meets the government’s specific set of criteria. That is, all hemp produced in the country should contain less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the compound that’s held responsible for the psychoactive effects associated with the Cannabis sativa L. plant.
In effect, controlling the amount of THC in the plant categorizes it as hemp. This is essentially the defining line that separates marijuana from hemp. Any sample that exceeds this limit will be considered illegal to use, manufacture, sell, and process. But there’s more to the legality of hemp in Kentucky than just that.
Before any individual or entity can start growing hemp in Kentucky, they must first acquire a license to cultivate hemp. This is available through the Kentucky Department of Agriculture that accepts applications until the 15th of March of each year. To qualify for a license, individuals need to agree to the following key details:
Another thing worth mentioning is that under the law of the State of Kentucky, farmers need to source their seeds from accredited Seed & Transplant Providers. These are often educational institutions that have done research on hemp to come up with strains that are least likely to demonstrate THC in their chemistry.
As of writing, the hemp market in Kentucky remains blurry at best. That’s because while hemp flower is legal to sell in the state, only growers, processors, manufacturers, and distributors who hold a license are allowed to make such transactions. So that ultimately puts a load of red tape on end users who might want to buy raw hemp flower.
Nonetheless, the 2018 Farm Bill legalizes the mailing of hemp, so Kentucky locals can still get their hands-on hemp legally by buying it online. There are loads of viable sources on the web, selling legally compliant hemp flower for the benefits of users from around the country.
This is where things start to get hairy for end users. Although hemp is legal to grow and sell, the parameters state that these transactions can only be performed by licensed growers, processors, and distributors. That means Kentucky locals can’t buy raw hemp flower unless they have a license granted to industrial farmers. So, what does that mean for the local hemp market?
End users are given unrestricted access to hemp-derived and CBD products. These include oils, tinctures, edibles, skin care products, pet care products, capsules, and anything else under the CBD sun. But since 2018, Kentucky has banned the sale and use of hemp flower, including all of its smokable forms, like CBD cigarettes, cigars, and pre-rolls.
For the most part, the local government’s restriction on these types of hemp products can be traced back to one thing – they’re incredibly difficult to differentiate from marijuana. Because we have yet to develop any tools or field devices that can differentiate hemp and marijuana in these forms, then the local government has decided to take the necessary step to prevent confusion.
Nonetheless, Kentucky locals can still purchase these products online through web-based hemp sellers. The only hurdle is that physical shops in the Bluegrass State are not able to provide these products to their avid consumers.
CBD products and hemp-derived formulations are a no-contest in Kentucky. That is, you can use these products freely even in public. But if you’ve purchased hemp flower, cigarettes, cigars, pre-rolls, or other smokable hemp products online, then you might want to consider restricting their use to the privacy of your home.
Keep in mind that marijuana and hemp in their raw form can be difficult to differentiate. That said, if you’re caught smoking hemp outdoors, then law enforcement might not have a choice but to assume that you’re using marijuana. To avoid the situation, simply keep your smoking practices to the confines of your private space. This way, you can avoid any potential run-ins with law enforcement and enjoy the benefits of your raw hemp without the added trouble.
No – it is not legal to grow hemp at home in Kentucky. The state does what it can to regulate the production of hemp and to prevent the unwanted spread of hemp samples that contain more than the prescribed THC content. That said, homegrown hemp can be hard to regulate, making it difficult for law enforcement to trace the source of the samples and to monitor whether the growers are utilizing the intended cultivation practices.
The only individuals allowed to grow hemp in Kentucky are those with a license from the Department of Agriculture. Similarly, only individuals in possession of a license are allowed to sell hemp flower, to process its CBD, and to distribute it to retailers. The personal cultivation and processing of hemp flower is still considered illegal in the State of Kentucky.
That said, it’s always better to source your hemp from accredited retailers instead. Some of the best hemp flower Kentucky locals can find are sold online through popular providers that come from out of the state.
It’s no secret that hemp laws are pretty strict in the Bluegrass state, but considering how far hemp has come since it was banned in the 50’s, there’s really no complaining. Presently, advocates are still fighting to help loosen the laws that bind the use, sale, and cultivation of hemp, but lots of Kentucky locals enjoy a relatively forgiving market that brings some of the best hemp products to the public.
For the most part, we can thank the local government for their efforts to regulate hemp. In a lot of ways, these laws and parameters help to ensure safe and quality hemp products, protecting the public from the unsavory effects of THC. If we continue to ride the upbeat tides of these hemp market changes, then we might just see an even freer hemp industry in Kentucky over the next several years.
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