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Conducting Hemp Research

Definition of Industrial Hemp

The plant material known as industrial hemp is a variety of the same Cannabis sativa L. plant as marijuana, but with a concentration of THC no more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis. Hemp was historically included in the Controlled Substances Act definition of “marihuana.” However, in December 2018, the 2018 Farm Bill was signed into law, which among other things, amended the Controlled Substances Act to exclude hemp (the plant Cannabis sativa L. with a THC concentration of not more than 0.3% on a dry weight basis) and hemp derivatives (extracts and cannabinoids) from the definition of “marihuana.” Thus, hemp and hemp derivatives are no longer regulated as Schedule I Controlled Substances.

It should be noted that under the 2018 Farm Bill, the cultivation of hemp is subject to a shared state-federal regulatory program. Under the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp (other than that grown exclusively for research purposes by a state department of agriculture pilot program or university in compliance with Section 7606 of the Farm Bill of 2014) may only be cultivated pursuant to a USDA-approved state plan that includes certain regulatory elements or, in the absence of such a state plan, by a grower that has applied for and obtained a license directly from the federal USDA. Therefore, researchers can obtain industrial hemp for research purposes if it originated from a source that is in compliance with both federal and state requirements. At this time, there are no USDA state approved plans nor have any USDA licenses been issued. If researchers want to conduct hemp-related research, you should consider obtaining hemp seeds of cultivars from a state Department of Agriculture grower that has established a research Pilot Program, a University authorized to grow hemp, or from abroad.

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