For years, all cannabis products were illegal in the United States. Recently, many states have chosen to legalize cannabis products, namely marijuana. However, marijuana has not become legalized in the entire United States and is only limited to a handful of states. So, many people might be surprised when they see cannabis products in states where marijuana is illegal.
You may have seen bottles with the famous marijuana leaf at your local convenience stores. You may stare at these bottles and wonder, “how are they selling marijuana legally?” This simple question has a complex answer, but the answer is essential for those who want to purchase these new legal cannabis products.
In this article, we will focus on how these cannabis products have come to line store shelves across the nation. We will focus on how they became legal, how these legal products are made, and why they have suddenly seemed to pop up in the past few years.
It’s All About The Plant
Marijuana and cannabis are usually used as interchangeable terms for the same organic plant. The Cannabis Sativa plant bears the marijuana flower that is still illegal in many states. Despite this, there are other offshoots of the Cannabis Sativa plant. One of the similar plants to Cannabis Sativa is the Hemp plant.
The Hemp plant is almost identical to Cannabis Sativa but is missing a main component, THC. The naturally occurring chemical THC is responsible for the psychoactive effects of marijuana and is abundant in the Cannabis Sativa plant. On the other hand, the Hemp plant contains almost zero THC. The amount of THC in Hemp is regulated by the government, which requires Hemp plants to contain less than 0.3 percent THC. This may seem like a slight difference, but it is why there are legal cannabis products in states where marijuana is illegal.
The Legalization of Hemp
In 2018, the federal government passed the Farm Bill. The Farm Bill was a sweeping piece of legislation that affected many parts of the agricultural industry. The central part we are interested in is that the 2018 Farm Bill made the Hemp plant federally legal. This means that Hemp was now legal to grow and sell in every state across the country.
The Hemp plant can be made into various products such as rope, textiles, paper, and even food. The wide range of uses of the Hemp plant made it necessary to distinguish it from Cannabis Sativa, which is not currently federally legal. Along with these practical uses, many farmers and producers sought to tap into the health benefits of the Hemp plant. This resulted in the first of many federally legal cannabis products, CBD, becoming available to the masses.
CBD is a natural chemical compound found in the Hemp plant. CBD is known for its positive health benefits and has become widely popular. Usually taken in pill or liquid form, CBD can help with everything from aches and pains to getting a good night’s sleep. Unlike its chemical counterpart THC, CBD is not a psychoactive chemical and will cause a high. Due to its benign nature, CBD does not face many state restrictions and is legal in most forms across the United States.
CBD might be a non-psychoactive substance, but many legal cannabis products are psychoactive. These legal psychoactive cannabis products are legal because of their relationship to CBD. However, before we can understand this legal relationship, we need to learn more about the natural chemical compounds in the Cannabis Sativa and Hemp plants, cannabinoids.
What Is A Cannabinoid?
A cannabinoid is a natural chemical compound found in the Cannabis Sativa plant and offshoots like the Hemp plant. The two most abundant and widespread cannabinoids are CBD and THC, but there are numerous other cannabinoids. Scientists estimate that there are over 200 cannabinoids in the Cannabis Sativa and Hemp plants, so CBD and THC are just two of many cannabinoids. Cannabinoids that are not CBD or THC are known as alternative cannabinoids.
Alternative cannabinoids are legal cannabis products that line store shelves alongside CBD. You may have heard of some of these alternative cannabinoids, such as Delta 8 THC, Delta 10 THC, or HHC. Unlike CBD, many alternative cannabinoids are psychoactive and give a similar high to marijuana. So how are these psychoactive cannabinoids legal in states where marijuana is illegal? The answer lies once again in the Hemp plant and CBD.
The Alternative Cannabinoid Explosion
As we know, CBD is a cannabinoid distilled from the Hemp plant. However, CBD is not the only cannabinoid in the Hemp plant. For example, CBD and Hemp are required to have less than 0.3 percent of THC. Therefore, there are still trace amounts of THC left over in CBD oil distilled from the Hemp plant. This is true of all sorts of cannabinoids, and not just THC. The trace amounts of cannabinoids left over in legal CBD oil are the key to legal cannabis products.
After CBD is distilled, one can extract particular cannabinoids from the CBD oil. Therefore, alternative cannabinoids like Delta 8 THC and Delta 10 THC can be extracted from the Hemp plant. The extraction of these alternative cannabinoids from the legal CBD oil is what makes them legal cannabis products, even though they are psychoactive, like marijuana.
The legal status of Hemp has caused an explosion of new alternative cannabinoid products coming to market. Where several years ago it would have been challenging to find products that exclusively contained Delta 8 THC or HHC, they are now widely available. Along with the market explosion of alternative cannabinoids has come increased scrutiny and a complex legal status.
Alternative Cannabinoid Legality: The States vs The Federal Government
For a while now, the legal status of cannabis has been deferred mainly to the states. Some states choose to legalize marijuana, and others continue to ban it. Yet, when the federal government made the Hemp plant legal, and by extension CBD, it seemed that the legal status of alternative cannabinoids was settled. Seemingly federally legalized, alternative cannabinoids began rolling out across the United States. Despite the federal legal status, some states continue to battle against alternative cannabinoids.
The argument of some states rests on the fact that the federal government made Hemp legal but did not explicitly legalize alternative cannabinoids. Therefore, some states argue that alternative cannabinoids exploit a loophole in the system. They believe that the Hemp plant was legalized because of its lack of psychoactive properties, and that the extraction and condensation of trace psychoactive cannabinoids should be illegal. Since the federal legal status of alternative cannabinoids lies in a gray area, states have moved against alternative cannabinoids but cannot wholly outlaw them. These states give alternative cannabinoids the “restricted” status, which limits their sale and distribution. The state-by-state status of these alternative cannabinoids means you must do some research before you buy alternative cannabinoids.
What You Need To Know Before You Buy Alternative Cannabinoids
The first thing you should do before you buy alternative cannabinoids is look up the legal status of alternative cannabinoids in your state. Remember, just because marijuana is illegal in your state does not mean that alternative cannabinoids are also illegal. Most states have not restricted alternative cannabinoids, but it is critical that you know the status before you buy.
Moreover, there is also an interesting legal status for online sales. We claim that we can legally ship any of our products to any state, which is true. Even states with “restricted” status for alternative cannabinoids can purchase our products legally. Online sales are legal due to inter-state commerce. The federal government controls inter-state commerce, and because the federal government considers alternative cannabinoids legal products, they can be legally shipped anywhere in the United States.
Overall, the legal status of alternative cannabinoids is long and complicated. The legal status of alternative cannabinoids comes from the legalization of the Hemp plant in the 2018 Farm Bill. After the legalization of Hemp, the non-psychoactive alternative cannabinoid CBD was widely distilled and distributed. However, there are still trace amounts of psychoactive alternative cannabinoids inside CBD. These alternative cannabinoids are extracted from CBD and then condensed into their psychoactive alternative cannabinoid products.
The complex legal status of these alternative cannabinoids leads to some legal oddities. Many states consider marijuana illegal due to the psychoactive properties of THC. However, you can legally buy THC (also known as Delta 9 THC) that has been extracted from the Hemp plant in a state where marijuana is illegal. This odd double standard is undoubtedly strange but is totally legal.
In conclusion, alternative cannabinoids have a complex and fluid legal status. The legality of alternative cannabinoids will likely be different a year or even a few months from now. You should always be up to date on the legal status of alternative cannabinoids, in your state and federally. Armed with this knowledge, you should be fully prepared to enjoy the effects of legal alternative cannabinoids.