December 20, 2023

Hemp and Marijuana are the same thing (according to some states)

Are Hemp and Marijuana the Same Thing?

Did you know that hemp and marijuana are the same thing? Okay, they’re not, but some states are trying to say that they are.

Hey, I’m Morgan Davis, a cannabis attorney in Raleigh, North Carolina. Let’s talk about how to keep your business protected and thriving in this complex landscape.

Chemistry and Legal Definitions

In terms of chemistry and biology, hemp and marijuana (which, by the way, I’ll now refer to as cannabis) could be the same thing. But legally, they are not the same. What differentiates them? Well, at the federal level, the key difference is the 3% Delta 9 THC content by dry weight. If a product is below that threshold, it’s considered hemp; if it’s above, it’s considered marijuana.

States Pulling Hemp into the Regulated Cannabis Market

Some states, in response to the growing number of unregulated intoxicating hemp products in the market, are taking a different approach. Instead of regulating them separately, they are pulling them into their regulated cannabis market.

For instance, in Alaska, as of November 3rd, new regulations came into effect that banned THC products or hemp products containing Delta 8 or Delta 9 THC from the regular market. They can only be sold through the dispensary market. Connecticut, Vermont, Michigan, Washington, Maryland, Minnesota, and Alaska are among the states making similar moves.

The Focus Shifts to THC Content

This trend essentially shifts the focus away from distinguishing between hemp and cannabis; instead, it centers on the THC content in the product.

While this trend is interesting, it raises questions about whether these states can legally redefine hemp and cannabis differently from the federal government’s definitions. Arkansas tried to do something similar recently but faced legal challenges.

Legal Challenges and Uncertainty

Both Maryland and Alaska are already facing litigation over this issue. Industry stakeholders in the hemp sector of these states have filed lawsuits to stop the implementation of these programs. A judge in Maryland has granted a temporary restraining order, allowing hemp businesses to continue operating while the legal situation unfolds.

Minnesota took a different approach by bifurcating its system, creating a high THC and a low THC program. This shift, seen in various states, focuses on the amount of THC in the product rather than its categorization as hemp or cannabis.

Adapting to Rapid Regulatory Changes

This trend should be concerning for companies aiming to sell products nationally because it means that you can’t sell your products in states like Alaska. The regulatory landscape changes swiftly. As a company, you need to understand not only the regulations in your state but also in all the states where you operate.

If you’re selling nationally or in multiple states, it’s crucial to have a compliance team or outsource compliance to legal experts. The regulatory landscape can change rapidly, and compliance is vital to avoid criminal and civil liabilities.

If you’re overwhelmed by these changes, we’d love to help. Give us a call.

Related Articles

Schedule Your Consultation

Davis Legal, PLLC is here to listen, and we want to hear your whole story. When we clearly understand your goals and challenges, we can help you get where you want to go. Fill out the form and we'll contact you to schedule a free initial consultation.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience. Privacy Policy