Less than six months ago Oklahomans voted across the state to legalize medical marijuana. Even more recently, the federal government passed the farm bill in December of 2018 which changed the legal status of hemp at the federal level. With that, the world of legalization seems to be moving faster than many municipalities can keep up with the new Oklahoma cannabis regulations. Simple differences such as the difference between smokable marijuana and manufacturing hemp can be lost in this fast transition from illegal to legal. This was seen in the city of Pawhuska, Oklahoma and sadly should be expected to continue as we erode negative side-effects of the prohibition of cannabis. With this news, we also want to take a moment to discuss the differences between hemp and marijuana. The two plants are in and of the same but also with key legal differences which we will see can make for an interesting time in court. All and all, both cannabis as medical marijuana and hemp as an industrial product present huge value to the world as the veil of prohibition is withdrawal.
Trouble for Oklahoma Hemp Farmers
According to this news report, “the Oklahoma Highway Patrol says no agencies in the state have field tests to differentiate hemp from marijuana.” This can lead to big problems for hemp farmers in the area who have little way to distinguish their product from the more regulated marijuana. While the difference is slight (we will discuss this further below), there are huge differences in the punishment for carrying too much of the THC heavy marijuana versus simply having a hemp harvest. Clearly, there still need to be more regulations put in place as it is unreasonable to arrest and confiscate hemp products from farmers. Sadly the current system, which is slow, will most likely see the hemp product rot before it is resolved. As the product has a shelf life which will see it go bad in the weeks it takes for testing to confirm indeed that it is hemp instead of the psychoactive marijuana.
Worse of all with regards to the case in Pawhuska is that four individuals have been jailed because of this mistake. All and all though it will hopefully prompt the state to pass clearer regulations and start to patch the holes in the current legislation, this is a tough individual price to pay for these folks. Sadly, it may seem that the recent government shutdown has the deployment of the also recently passed 2018 Farm Bill which essentially legalized hemp. First of all, normal testing facilities have been closed because of the shutdown. Furthermore, there has been a lot of confusion surrounding the Farm Bill and how it will relate to hemp once completely implemented. However, the bottom line is sadly the government facility which normally would test the level of THC to determine if this product was hemp or marijuana has been closed because of the government shutdown. All and all, there should not be such an issue with the identification of cannabis or hemp in the future, especially with regards to the new legality of hemp.
Differences with Hemp & Marijuana
The reality remains that hemp and marijuana are the same plants. Yet, the difference is not that black and white. The real difference comes from their legal distinction. The legal distinction requires hemp to have THC levels less than 0.3%. This insignificant amount assures that no one can consume hemp for psychoactive purposes. Yet with the legality being different, it has led to completely different products through and through for hemp and marijuana. Oklahoma medical marijuana, for example, will never be used for the same purposes as industrial hemp simply because the plant is regulated more severely than hemp. Furthermore, the usage of the plant has a lot to do with how it is grown. Thus, Oklahoma medical marijuana is grown with more expensive tactics to enhance the final product for patients. Hemp, on the other hand, will be completely processed and expensive grow tactics simply do not justify the extra yields.
If you ever have more questions, We at The High Peak would love to help answer them!