Way back in 2016, Pennsylvania legalized the farming of hemp for the purpose of research as their response to the 2014 Farm Bill. But when the updated 2018 Farm Bill was signed into law, the state could finally do away with the premise of research and get to growing hemp industrially. So, in 2019, the State of Pennsylvania submitted their hemp farming program to the US Department of Agriculture, finally legalizing the production of hemp for commercial use.
Today, the state of Pennsylvania enjoys a thriving hemp ecosystem, with sellers, buyers, growers, and processors coming together to reap the benefits of this hot new agricultural commodity. But that doesn’t mean that anything goes. On the contrary, hemp is a highly regulated herb, so everyone involved in the market will have to follow a specific set of laws to protect from poor, illegal product. What exactly are the hemp laws in Pennsylvania? Find out here.
The 2018 Farm Bill outlines the parameters that makes hemp legal or illegal. That’s mainly because of the herb’s close resemblance to marijuana – a federally illegal substance that comes from the same plant as hemp. The Cannabis sativa L. plant is where both marijuana and hemp come from, thus the great cannabis confusion that caused law makers to prohibit the use, production, and sale of hemp throughout the country during the 1950s drug war.
However, research has found that despite coming from the same plant, hemp and marijuana are not one and the same. The difference lies in their THC content. Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol is one of the cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, and this chemical compound is what causes the high associated with marijuana. In hemp however, THC is almost completely absent.
For that reason, hemp doesn’t cause the same psychoactive effects as marijuana, and has since been removed from the list of controlled substances country-wide. Today, hemp is defined as any part of the plant Cannabis sativa L. including its extracts and derivatives, with a THC content no more than 0.3%.
Walk the streets of Pennsylvania, and you’ll find that hemp is available to the public just like any other grocery store item. The widespread CBD products and hemp derivatives can be found in retail outlets, pharmacies, gasoline stations, and of course, reputable CBD specialty stores, which are probably the best physical place to purchase products from.
But that doesn’t mean you’re limited to the brick-and-mortar scene in Pennsylvania. These days, the best place to buy hemp and CBD products would be online. Since the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill into law, hemp is no longer prohibited from crossing state borders. So, if you’re looking for a diverse selection of formulations and products, the online market should be the best place to look.
Keep in mind though that even with lots of reputable brands, there are some sellers that might not offer the same high quality. Make sure you read more about retailers, where their products come from, and how their hemp-derived formulations are made to determine whether or not they’re ideal for you.
Take a quick tour through any hemp or CBD specialty store, and you’ll find countless varieties of hemp products. The online market is no different, offering things like raw hemp flower, pre-rolls, cigarettes, vape oil, cigars, personal care products, cosmetics, pet care products, and of course, edibles. And while it might seem that all of these products are free to use, own, and purchase, edibles stand out to be a topic of debate.
According to the US Food and Drug Administration, CBD is yet to be identified as a safe and viable food additive. That said, products that contain CBD for human consumption are considered illegal throughout the country. Even then, the loose regulation of these products makes it possible for sellers to offer them to their patronage.
Presently, Pennsylvania stands with the FDA with their verdict on edible CBD. On the other hand, hemp seed oil remains a legalized food additive, which means that edible products that incorporate hemp seed oil are free to be purchased and sold. But even with the status of CBD edibles in murky water, it seems the general public can still access, purchase, and use them without legal repercussions.
The answer to this question is in a bit of a haze, with law enforcement officials not entirely certain where the herb stands in terms of legal use. The gray area is the result of hemp’s close relation with marijuana, and its current illegal status. While there are 11 other states that have legalized recreational marijuana, Pennsylvania isn’t one of them. And because hemp and marijuana look and smell completely the same, law enforcement may have a hard time telling the two apart in a public setting.
In fact, the government has yet to develop a field test that can be used to distinguish hemp from marijuana on the spot. So, anyone found smoking hemp in public will have to be treated as though they were caught using marijuana. This could lead to the confiscation of the hemp in your possession and a misdemeanor charger until your hemp comes back from a lab test.
For your own sake and peace of mind, it’s always better to keep your hemp flower stash at home. If you need to take CBD while you’re away from your personal or private space, consider alternative forms like cigarettes, vape oils, or even edibles to avoid any unwanted run-ins with the law.
To get a better understanding of whether you can grow hemp at home, you might want to find out whether recreational marijuana and personal marijuana gardens are legal in your state. That’s mainly because the reason why some jurisdictions prohibit personal hemp farms is because of the difficulty regulating them. If a home gardener doesn’t know the ropes, then they may produce hemp that contains more than the legal amount of THC, thus making it marijuana, which may be illegal for recreational use.
In Pennsylvania, hemp can only be grown by farmers with licenses from the PA Department of Agriculture. These can be acquired by submitting a duly accomplished application form and several other requirements, such as the specifics of the plot of land to be used for farming and a fee for licensing. In Pennsylvania, the present cost of a hemp farming permit is set at $150 – one of the cheapest nationwide.
There’s no denying that Pennsylvania hemp law has quite a few murky areas and gray spots, but considering how far the herb has come in the last decade, there’s really no complaining. With the progression of hemp laws and the loose regulation of things like edible CBD, we can be certain that the industry will see further improvement and freedom with time. For now, what we could benefit from the most would be a field test that can distinguish hemp from marijuana, allowing people to maximize the benefits of the herb anytime, anywhere.
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