Hemp is, for all intents and purposes, another variant of cannabis akin to indicas and sativas. It refers specifically to male cannabis plants containing less than 0.3% THC concentration, and typically, if not always, stem from the Cannabis sativa plant. Hemp has recently been bred specifically for high CBD contents in extractions and concentrations.
Hemp is grown as a renewable source for raw materials that can be incorporated into an estimated 50,000 non-drug commercial products, and is grown industrially in over 30 countries around the world, from Indonesia to the Netherlands to Argentina. Hemp is also far more environmentally friendly than traditional crops since it requires much less water to grow, and no pesticides. Commonly cited by hemp companies, “The only thing hemp can’t do is get you high.” Even if you attempted smoking hemp, it contains so little THC that your body will process it faster than you can smoke it.
Although hemp itself has no room to be used as a recreational drug, the United States Government refused to differentiate hemp from the cannabis plant as a whole for decades. In 1937, they passed the Marihuana Tax Act which strictly regulated the cultivation and sale of all cannabis varieties, regardless of THC content. Furthermore, the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 classified all forms of cannabis, including hemp, as a Schedule I drug, akin to meth and heroin. This also made it illegal to grow the hemp plant anywhere in the US for any reason at all, essentially decimating the hemp industry in favor of the lumber industry, which would’ve taken quite a hit, as hemp has shown to be a much more environmentally-friendly and as a higher yield alternative. Due to this illegalization, the US was forced to import hemp from other countries, which were required to have less than 0.3% THC, from the European Union and Canada.
In 2014, the U.S. Farm Bill allowed states to pass their own industrial hemp legislation to grow hemp for purposes of research and development. Several states, including Kentucky, Colorado and Oregon, already began hemp pilot projects. In December of 2018, the 2018 Farm Bill was passed by Mitch McConnell, officially reclassifying hemp and CBD away from any drug scheduling and allowing the Department of Agriculture to manage it as a crop rather than the Justice Department managing it as an illegal substance. This bill also allows interstate commerce of hemp and hemp products, including CBD, hemp farmers to purchase crop insurance, and additional research from pharmaceutical companies.