Hemp Grower Article: Smokable Hemp Laws All Over the Map

Here’s the introduction to their piece

The hemp market has suffered commercial setbacks since 2019, but one area of hemp that thrived in that time—and continues to do so—is smokable hemp. According to data compiled by industry data and intelligence firm Hemp Benchmarks, it is the only hemp category tracked by the company that experienced price increases on a year-over-year basis in 2020. The assessed price for smokable cannabidiol (CBD) flower in May 2021 surpassed $300 per pound for the first time since October 2019, and “prices for observed deals for smokable CBG flower averaged $284 per pound, up over 50% from [April 2021],” according to the firm.

Unfortunately, while the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (the 2018 Farm Bill) legalized hemp nationwide, some states still treat hemp flower like an illicit substance. The volatile regulations across the country place unwarranted constraints on hemp flower’s market potential. In addition, it penalizes people who want to smoke hemp for cannabinoids like CBD—including those using smokable hemp to kick their tobacco cigarette habit.

A closely watched court case in Indiana had the potential to deliver at least some measure of legal progress for the industry. The case, C.Y. Wholesale, Inc. et al. v Holcomb et al, first emerged after the plaintiffs, a group of hemp and CBD companies, sued Indiana in 2019 in the wake of Senate Enrolled Act 516. The measure effectively criminalized smokable hemp in the state. The reasoning? As legal hemp and illegal cannabis are roughly identical in appearance, law enforcement would not be able to tell the difference between hemp and cannabis flower, thus making it easier for cannabis growers to skirt the law. (Neither medical nor adult-use cannabis are legal in Indiana.)

The plaintiffs argued that the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp production, and the state had no right to make it unlawful. A district court granted the plaintiff’s request for an injunction and rejected the ban. But in July 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled that the injunction “sweeps too broadly.” The 2018 Farm Bill, the court said, gives states the right to enact rules regarding hemp that are stricter than those in the farm bill. The circuit court ordered the case back to district court.

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