Louisiana isn’t exactly what you would call a ‘hemp-friendly’ state. Sure, the state has adopted the 2018 Farm Bill, legalizing hemp with their own House Bill 491. Signed by Governor John Bel Edwards in June of 2019 – nearly half a year after the 2018 Farm Bill was enacted – the house bill finally lifts the ban on the manufacture and sale of CBD products. But it’s not without its fair share of lengthy restrictions.
If anything, the laws that bind the Louisiana hemp market might heavily limit the freedoms of end users, but with time and a little more advocacy, we’re hoping that legislators will work towards a freer, less cumbersome market for buyers.
The reason why there’s been such heavy debate about the legality of hemp is because of its close relation with the illegal, controlled substance – marijuana. Known for its psychoactive effects, marijuana is heavily regulated and banned across the country for recreational use. Both hemp and marijuana come from the Cannabis sativa L. plant, which is what sparked legislators to ban hemp as well at the dawn of the war on drugs in the 1950’s. But contemporary research has found that to be baseless.
The chemical compound in marijuana that causes the psychoactive effects is called tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. In hemp, trace amounts of the compound can be found, but not enough to cause the same hallucinogenic effects. According to the 2018 Farm Bill, any part of or extract from the Cannabis sativa L. plant can be legal to manufacture, sell, and use – as long as it contains less than 0.3% THC. That is, hemp is any sample from the cannabis plant that contains no more than 0.3% THC – that includes all derivative products like oils and extracts.
Hemp products are widely available throughout the state, albeit the restrictions on the kind of hemp that retailers are allowed to offer. That said, if you’re looking for a more diverse selection of products, it would be best to look through online retailers. With vast product line-ups that include hemp flower, pre-rolls, edibles, and more, Louisiana locals are more likely to find the products they need by checking the web.
Be wary though – not every retailer you find will offer quality product. If you want to guarantee good quality CBD products, then you may want to consider reading the fine print. Sellers should be ready and willing to show you the third-party lab test results for their formulations to prove that their products fall within federal standards.
Aside from lab test results, reading up about the specific retailer should help you picture out how reliable they are. Most retailers will freely share information about where they source their product and who they partner up with. In many cases, they’ll even outline which state their raw hemp was taken from before being processed into viable CBD products.
Here’s where the law gets pretty murky. Check the market for hemp flower and CBD products, and you’ll find a wealth of options that include smokables, topicals, edibles, and more. But in Louisiana, that extensive selection is narrowed down to just cosmetic products, vape oils, topical formulations, pet care products, and any CBD product that isn’t smokable or edible.
According to Louisiana legislators, CBD has yet to be approved by the FDA as a consumable food item. So, until then, the state asserts that it won’t sign any of its own bills into law to legalize the use of hemp edibles. Similarly, the state also banned the sale of hemp flower within the state, raising concerns over the difficulty of distinguishing between marijuana and hemp.
Nonetheless, hemp’s federal level legalization means that it can be sent through mail without any roadblocks. So, Louisiana locals can still get their hands on a variety of hemp-derived products and smokable flower by purchasing products online. In fact, some of the best hemp flower Louisiana locals will find will often be on the web, through retailers located in other parts of the country.
There’s a reason why the local government has banned the sale of hemp flower within the state. And that’s because when you look at a hemp sample and a marijuana sample, they’re almost impossible to tell apart. For local law enforcement, that poses a tricky situation. If let’s say they were to apprehend someone in possession of hemp, how would they be able to prove that it isn’t marijuana? Presently, there is no immediate field test that can provide law enforcement the answer, and any seized hemp samples need to be sent to labs for analysis before a verdict can be formulated.
For the humble hemp owner, that means having to potentially deal with the legal system over a hemp sample that’s completely legal within the state, based on the 2018 Farm Bill. So, to avoid any confusion, the state has prohibited the sale of hemp through local dispensaries, both on and offline. While the possession of hemp flower definitely isn’t illegal, using it in public might put you in a sticky situation, so it’s really better reserved for private use.
The short answer is no, you can’t. Individuals interested in growing hemp in Louisiana first need to secure a permit to do so. As of December of 2019, there are only 2 state sanctioned hemp farmers throughout the state, which tells you a lot about the situation of hemp grower license approval within the state. That’s because Louisiana has yet to come up with a set of regulations that oversee hemp farming. Not wanting to enter into a business that won’t earn back a profit, farmers are wary to join the bandwagon lest the regulations be too restrictive.
To become a hemp farmer in Louisiana, individuals need to submit an application form, GPS coordinates for the plot of land to be used, background checks, and fees for application and licensing. But because of the current climate of hemp farming in the state, growers are hesitant to join in despite the seemingly affordable licensing cost.
If you’re a retailer in Louisiana, then there might be some major roadblocks keeping you from maximum profit. For starters, the ban on both edibles and smokable hemp narrow down the product line-up so severely that you might not have too many buyers on the local scene. Nonetheless, end users can still get their hands of quality hemp products by sourcing their CBD oil and other formulations from neighboring states.
Another thing that hinders the hemp market from truly flourishing is the lack of regulation for hemp farmers. Currently, legislators are still trying to come up with the rules that govern the industrial farming of hemp, which has cultivators holding their breath. No doubt, no one wants to jump into an industry that might end up with strict regulations that stifle income, so until the ground rules are laid down, Louisiana farmers are going to have to wait and see how time will change the industry.
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