Two years ago, the 2018 Farm Bill made it legal to grow industrial hemp for various purposes.  Prior to that, the 1970 Controlled Substances Act made growing hemp illegal but the industry had been effectively suppressed since the 1930s.  However, if you wish to grow, sell, or process hemp into various useful products, there are still many restrictions and regulations to which you must adhere.

Nevertheless, at the federal level, hemp is now legal and marijuana remains illegal, despite the prerogative of the federal government not to enforce these laws in states like California and Colorado that have legalized recreational use of marijuana.  As long as you possess the necessary licenses, you may grow, process, and sell hemp and hemp-containing products to consumers who may legally purchase them.  The production of CBD-containing items is mostly regulated at the state level, subject to the provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill. 

So, what’s the difference between hemp and marijuana?


If you asked a botanist (a person who studies plants), he or she would tell you that hemp and marijuana are the same plant.  There are three main species of cannabis:  Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis Indica, and Cannabis Ruderalis Janisch. 

All of these species produce THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol, the intoxicating psychoactive compound), CBD (Cannabidiol, a compound known to have benefits to human health), and various terpenes (organic compounds found in many conifer plants that give them their aroma).  To be clear, there are hundreds of organic compounds in all three of these species, but the three listed here are the most interesting. 

Much like cultivars of tomato plants can produce a variety of differing fruits, the cannabis plant has a variety of cultivars to suit different purposes.  The term hemp is legally defined in the 2018 farm bill as any Sativa strain that has an extremely low THC content (below 0.3%, compared to marijuana as high as 20%).  Hemp is used for industrial purposes and NOT for getting “high”.  The Sativa species is used for industrial hemp production but there are widespread efforts to cross the various species to obtain plants optimized for CBD, clothing, fiber, food, paper, soap, and varnish production – among other things.


To date, the Food and Drug Administration has approved one cannabis-derived and three cannabis-related drug products. These approved products are only available with a prescription from a licensed healthcare provider. 

One such drug is Epidiolex, which contains a purified form of CBD for the treatment of seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome in patients 2 years of age and older. That means the FDA has concluded that this particular drug product is safe and effective for its intended use. 

The FDA has also approved Marinol and Syndros for therapeutic uses in the United States, including for the treatment of anorexia associated with weight loss in AIDS patients.  Marinol and Syndros include the active ingredient dronabinol, a synthetic form of THC. 

Another FDA-approved drug, Cesamet, contains the active ingredient nabilone, which has a chemical structure similar to THC and is synthetically derived.  To date, the FDA has not approved a marketing application for cannabis for the treatment of any disease or condition.

Products containing CBD have a low perceived risk to human health compared to other substances, which has allowed the CBD retail market to flourish despite heavy regulation.  For better or worse, parts of the Cannabis plant have been ingested by humans for thousands of years, so there is a long history of Cannabis use, much like caffeine. 

Most daily doses of CBD range from 5 mg – 500 mg, depending on the user and their condition.  According to the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) for CBD, a lethal dose (LD50) for a person weighing 150 pounds would be about 66,000 mg of CBD in one sitting.  For comparison, the same person would need about 13,500 mg of aspirin or 13,000 mg of caffeine to achieve the same end. 

If you think CBD could be right for you, check us out at www.bluegoosebotanicals.com and stay tuned for future posts and discussions.

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