Earlier this year, the Minnesota legislature amended the existing definition of hemp, thus altering the legal status of hemp-derived CBD products. CBD products include oils, topicals, and edibles and are highly available not only in Minnesota but across the US.
Prior to the amendment, THC was legal in any concentration and amount provided the source was a hemp plant. Hemp plants are cousins of marijuana plants, and pure CBD does not create the “high” that marijuana does. This “high” is courtesy of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
What is CBD?
CBD, or Cannabidiol, in an active ingredient in cannabis that is derived from the hemp plant. CBD oil is used to alleviate several conditions including:
- Chronic pain
- Cancer-related symptoms
- Anxiety and depression
- Drug withdrawal
- Autoimmune disorders
Cannabis with high CBD is specially grown to treat these and other conditions as well as being used a source of wellness. Because hemp has no psychoactive effect, it is both legal and unregulated.
In 2014, the Farm Bill was signed into law increasing research into the benefits of hemp. Then, in 2016, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) approved a commercial hemp licensing program in Minnesota. Thus, registered farmers were legally able to cultivate industrial hemp, thus resulting in more than 2,000 acres of hemp being planted in Minnesota.
CBD derived from hemp is currently legal; however, CBD cultivated from illegal marijuana plants is illegal. Thus, it is the source of the CBD that determines legality. However, hemp contains little CBD while marijuana creates the best CBD and, consequently, higher levels of THC.
Because hemp produces a relatively small amount of CBD, hemp growers must cultivate large amounts in order to produce an adequate amount of CBD when compared to the more efficient and higher quality marijuana-sourced CBD.
The legal status of CBD products depends upon the amount of THC in the source plant and not the end product. The legislature created a .3% maximum THC threshold for CBD products. One problem is that CBD products with no more than .3% THC by dry weight would still be illegal if sourced from a marijuana plant. In other words, even if a CBD product had zero THC, if it were sourced from a marijuana plant—and not a hemp plant—it would be illegal.
Changes in the law
Effective 1 July 2019, hemp-derived CBD is no longer considered legal hemp unless it has .3% THC or less. The legislature amended the law to include this .3% limit on all of the plants seeds, derivatives, and extracts. Thus, whereas before the new law, any CBD was legal provided it came from a hemp plant, this is no longer the case.
The manufacturing process for CBD involves growers cultivating cannabis plants with not more than .3% THC, processing the hemp to extract the CBD oil, and diluting the concentrate to ensure the end product complies with this .3% limit. The problem is that it is impossible to make CBD oil from hemp by staying within this threshold. Thus, even though the end product may be compliant with the law, because the second step does not adhere to the new legal requirements, this creates a trap for the Minnesota hemp-growing community.