Washington DC Hemp Overview

Washington DC THC Overview >

What Is Hemp?

Hemp is a plant from the Cannabaceae family. It is often confused with marijuana, another variety of the cannabis plant, due to the visual similarities between both. However, while hemp plants grow taller and are usually thin, marijuana plants do not grow tall and are mostly bushy. A significant difference between hemp and marijuana is the level of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in each. THC is the psychoactive cannabinoid (chemical substance) in cannabis plants. By definition, hemp is low in THC and may only contain up to 0.3% THC legally. On the other hand, marijuana plants have high amounts of THC, with some strains containing over 30% THC.

Hemp is the same as industrial hemp. It is often called industrial hemp because it is high in fiber, making it a good raw material for producing various consumer and industrial products. The parts of the hemp plant, such as hemp seed, hemp flowers, and hemp hearts, are often processed into various derivatives. Hemp seeds are the seeds from which the plant grows, while the inner part of an unshelled hemp seed is called the hemp heart. Hemp seeds are edible and contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are beneficial for skin and heart health. After blending hemp seed with water, the resulting derivative is a non-dairy beverage that provides potential benefits to human health, including strengthening the immune system.

The buds produced by the hemp plant are called hemp flowers. The hemp flower is high in CBD (cannabidiol) and THC concentration. People use hemp flowers to reduce anxiety, relieve pain, boost appetite, and improve sleep. Hemp seed oil is another hemp derivative made by cold-pressing hemp seeds. It also has numerous health benefits. Hemp seed oil can be ingested orally or applied topically. Unlike hemp seed oil, hemp oil is derived from the whole hemp plant - buds, leaves, and stems. Hemp extract is produced from all parts of the hemp plant with high CBD concentrations, including leaves, buds, and stems. CBD extracts often include terpenes, flavonoids, cannabinoids, and essential nutrients and vitamins.



Is Hemp Legal in Washington DC?

Yes, hemp is legal in Washington DC. The first attempt to legalize hemp in the United States was in 2014 when Congress passed the 2014 Farm Bill. The bill authorized states' departments of agriculture and institutions of higher learning to cultivate hemp for research purposes under an agricultural pilot program or other academic or agricultural research. These pilot programs had limited supervision from the center, and only institutions or departments in states that allowed it participated.

At the expiration of the 2014 Farm Bill, some states had developed hemp programs with USDA-approved hemp plans to regulate hemp production within their borders in compliance with the 2018 Farm Bill requirements. Others ceded hemp regulatory authority to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Under the 2018 Farm Bill, states are allowed to ban hemp production within their boundaries. However, they cannot restrict hemp transportation within their borders. The 2018 Farm Bill defines hemp as the plant Cannabis sativa L and its derivatives with no more than 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis. It removed hemp from the list of controlled substances. Hence, it is legal to ship hemp and hemp-derived products in and out of Washington DC.

The sale, possession, and use of hemp and hemp-derived products are legal in Washington DC, provided the THC content does not exceed 0.3% as required by the 2018 Farm Bill. However, the sale of hemp-based CBD edibles is illegal. Also, while hemp cultivation became federally legal with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, Washington DC prohibits hemp cultivation. Hence, no individual may grow or process hemp at home in the District.

What Hemp Products are Legal in Washington DC?

All hemp-derived products with no more than 0.3% THC content are legal in Washington DC, except hemp-derived CBD edibles. Washington DC is under federal jurisdiction and hemp-based CBD edibles remain illegal in the District until the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clarifies its perspective on using CBD as a food additive. It is unlawful for anyone to cultivate hemp for whatever reason, including growing it for edibles or food products.

Washington DC residents or visitors can smoke hemp but may only do so on private property. Smoking hemp in public spaces or private places accessible to the public is prohibited. According to Washington DC Smoke-Free and Tobacco Laws, the District prohibits smoking in all enclosed public places, including shopping malls, schools, waiting rooms, and retail stores. Also, it is illegal for drivers or truckers to smoke hemp while operating a motor vehicle in Washington DC.

Can A Municipality Restrict Hemp Cultivation or Processing in Washington DC?

Washington DC prohibits hemp cultivation and processing because the District has no industrial hemp cultivation program. No person or business in any of the District's municipalities is permitted to grow or process hemp for personal or commercial purposes.

How to Get a License to Grow or Process in Washington DC

Washington DC prohibits hemp cultivation within its borders and does not have an industrial hemp program under which it can issue licenses to grow and process hemp. The District’s claim for not having a hemp cultivation program is insufficient space. A vast part of the land in Washington DC is already taken up by housing units, federal buildings, and museums. According to the USDA, anyone or entity intending to produce hemp must first be licensed or approved under a state hemp program, the USDA hemp program, or a tribal hemp program. The program under which they are licensed depends on the hemp cultivation facility's location. However, Washington DC does not have a hemp production plan submitted to or approved by the USDA and cannot issue a hemp growing or processing license.

How Much Does a License to Grow or Process Hemp Cost in Washington DC?

Currently, hemp cultivation and processing are banned in Washington DC. Although the sale of hemp-based products is permitted, the District does not issue hemp growing or processing licenses.

How to Grow Hemp in Washington DC

Hemp cultivation in Washington DC is illegal unless some changes occur in the near future. Generally, it is important to test and understand the quality of the proposed soil for hemp cultivation. Hemp grows better in well-aerated, loose loam with a pH level between 6.0 and 7.5. While it is possible to grow hemp with sandy soil, doing so is not recommended because sandy soil requires constant irrigation and fertilization. Without these, farmers who cultivate hemp with sandy soil can always expect a poor harvest. The proposed soil for hemp cultivation should also be tested to ensure it contains the required nutrients to help the plants thrive. Before planting, hemp growers must decide whether they want to cultivate hemp for CBD or fiber.

The best time of the year to plant hemp seeds is the period after all danger of frost when the soil temperature is between 46 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit and the soil is moist. If cultivating hemp for fiber, the crops may be planted together, but hemp grown for CBD and seed must be planted far apart. Watering is another essential aspect of cultivating hemp. Typically, hemp plants need between 20 and 30 inches of rainfall during their growth cycle. Farmers must ensure to irrigate the plants where this is not feasible to make up for the shortfall. During the growth cycle, hemp plants may face pest infestations. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved pesticide products to combat such situations.

Where Can You Buy Hemp Flower in Washington DC?

Washington DC has a robust market for hemp-based products with no more than 0.3% THC. However, it may be challenging to find hemp flowers in the District as brick-and-mortar shops tend to shy away from displaying hemp flowers on their shelves. This is because hemp flowers and marijuana have similar looks, and there is a strict restriction on marijuana in Washington DC. However, it is legal for Washington DC residents to purchase hemp flowers online from stores that sell quality CBD hemp flowers. It is unlikely that Washington DC residents will find many local stores adding CBD flowers to their shelves until the federal government eases the ban on recreational cannabis.

Hemp vs THC

Hemp is a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant, while THC is the most prevalent cannabinoid in cannabis. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the primary chemical compound that helps differentiate the hemp and marijuana varieties of the cannabis plant. Unlike marijuana, hemp is not psychoactive because it must not contain more than 0.3% THC, as the 2018 Farm Bill requires. All hemp-based products, including hemp-derived THC products, are legal and can be sold in Washington DC, provided the THC concentration does not exceed 0.3%

Hemp vs CBD

Hemp is a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant, while CBD is one of the numerous chemical compounds (cannabinoids) found in hemp. CBD or cannabidiol occurs naturally in large amounts in hemp plants. Except for hemp-based CBD foods/edibles, the sale of other hemp-derived CBD products is legal in Washington DC, provided the products contain no more than 0.3% THC.

Hemp Applications

Besides its medicinal benefits, hemp is one of the most valuable crops, with several applications in the production of consumer and industrial products. For instance, plastics can be made from hemp fibers. Research shows that plastics made from hemp are 100% biodegradable and contain no harmful toxins like petroleum-based plastics or those made from synthetic fibers.

Environmentally friendly fuel and biodiesel that could potentially run diesel engines can also be produced from hemp. Hemp fibers can also be used in the textile industry to produce bedding and clothing. Textiles made from hemp absorb moisture and are perfect for cooling in summer and warming in winter. Other uses of hemp are its application in producing animal feeds, papers, cosmetics, ropes and sails, and hempcrete in construction.

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