Smoking hemp is one of the fastest growing trends on the cannabis scene. And law enforcement can’t tell the difference between this stuff and marijuana.
One of the main arguments in favor of legalizing industrial hemp was that a person couldn’t get high on it even if they smoked a field of the stuff. The media has even suggested that if the general population decided to start raiding hemp crops across America in pursuit of a buzz, all they would get is a headache.
When Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took it upon himself in 2018 to legalize hemp in the United States, the idea was that the plant would only be used as processed fiber and wouldn’t be something the consumer would gravitate toward in plant form. They certainly wouldn’t smoke it, right?
Well, it turns out that not only are people smoking hemp, it is becoming one of the fastest growing trends on the cannabis scene.
Consumers are buying up hemp flower with rabid enthusiasm in states where it is legal and are using it for a few reasons. Firs, the herb, which contains only 0.3% THC and does not get the user high, is being purchased as a way to cut high-THC strains to make them less potent, one report shows.
Some of these people, however, perhaps looking for fast-acting relief from conditions like anxiety and insomnia, are also buying up hemp buds rather than edibles, tinctures, oils and vapes. There are even those hemp-CBD customers who are merely smoking this non-intoxicating flower for the enjoyment of hitting a joint when marijuana isn’t an option.
It’s just one of the reasons that cannabis industry experts predict that smokable hemp could swell into a mighty beast.
“Smokable hemp is a very small part of the hemp and CBD marketplace, but it seems to be the one that’s growing most rapidly,” Jonathan Miller, general counsel for U.S. Hemp Roundtable, told New England Public Radio.
Although CBD gained notoriety for being an oil that could help children with epilepsy have fewer seizures, the cannabinoid, which is derived from both hemp and marijuana, has since become a household name in America for its purported therapeutic benefits. The trendy cannabinoid received a boost in 2018 year when President Trump signed an extensive Farm Bill that legalized industrial hemp production at the federal level for the first time since 1937. Now, there are tens of thousands of acres of hemp plants growing across the country and more CBD products are showing up than ever before.
The only problem is the hemp plant looks a heck of a lot like marijuana (they are both a cannabis sativa classification). The similarities between the two have caused confusion among law enforcement. They simply cannot tell the difference — not with their eyes and not through technology.
This is causing trouble for hemp smokers, especially in those states where marijuana is not legal.
Since CBD flower looks like marijuana, it smells like it, and even tests positive for THC, anyone living in states where weed remains illegal runs the risk of police harassment if they are caught with it. Never mind that the leafy substance is only hemp and has virtually no THC content whatsoever, possession of this flower is still getting unsuspecting consumers arrested and charged with a crime.
“There is a product being sold…that could very well jam up an unknowing citizen if they were using their product and possibly cause them to be arrested,” Jeff Rasche, police chief for the Greenfield Police Department, told the Indianapolis Star.
Even in states where marijuana is legal, hemp smokers could find themselves in trouble with the law if they choose to smoke it in public. Although the cops cannot technically stop anyone from smoking hemp flower outdoors, because it looks, smells and shows up as marijuana during a drug test, people could find themselves in a position of getting a ticket for public consumption.
“Generally, if an officer has probable cause to believe someone is publicly consuming marijuana, he or she could ticket that individual on those grounds,” the Denver City Attorney’s Office told Westword. “At this point, there isn’t a field test that could be deployed to determine, on the fly, whether or not the substance is hemp or marijuana. Officers and prosecutors have to enforce public consumption of marijuana laws nonetheless — they can’t pick and choose.”
Interestingly, according to a recent article from Forbes, the confusion between hemp and marijuana is just one unforeseen development that could force the U.S. government to legalize marijuana nationwide.