Michigan is the latest state to legalize cannabis for recreational use in the US, joining Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Vermont, and DC. If you live in one of these states and you’re 21, then you can use CBD (and tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychotropic compound in cannabis) that comes from marijuana or hemp with impunity. In Michigan, that should go into effect by early December.

States where medical weed is legal: welcome, Missouri and Utah

Missouri and Utah voted in support of medical marijuana, joining a growing list of states that have legalized marijuana for medical use with a recommendation from a doctor. In these states, if you have a doctor’s approval, you can use CBD worry-free.

And some states have specific CBD laws

Some states have limited-access laws to protect citizens who use extracts that are high in CBD and low in THC to treat conditions such as epilepsy, while others have none at all. (See: table 2.)

How is hemp different from marijuana?

Marijuana and hemp are essentially two versions of the same species of plants from the genus Cannabis, bred to have small genetic variations. Marijuana is typically grown to have high amounts of THC. Hemp, on the other hand, is bred specifically to have, at most, trace amounts of THC—certainly not enough to cause a psychoactive effect.

Right, but what about legally?

According to the 2014 Farm Bill, a set of federal laws concerning US food and agriculture, legal “industrial hemp” refers to plants and products derived from cannabis plants with less than 0.3% THC, grown by a state-licensed farmer. There’s nothing in the bill about CBD, and the hemp industry makes many of the CBD products now widely available.

The commonly held belief is that if you’re consuming products made from hemp grown by a state-licensed grower, that contains less than 0.3% THC, you’re in good shape. If you live in a city like New York, and have noticed coffee shops selling CBD lattes and the like, there’s a good chance they fall in this category.

“We’re in this stage where we have non-enforcement at the federal level, non-enforcement at the state level,” says Cristina Buccola, a New York-based attorney who advises cannabis-related businesses. “For all intents and purposes it looks like a legal substance.”

Hemp, post-midterms

Hemp-derived CBD has a somewhat unlikely champion in Republican senate majority leader Mitch McConnell. The staunch Kentucky conservative introduced a bill in April that would establish hemp as an agricultural commodity and clearly remove it—along with any doubt about hemp-derived CBD—from the Drug Enforcement Agency’s definition of marijuana. The Hemp Farming Act is included in the senate version of the 2018 Farm Bill. but not the house version. Next, committee members from the House and Senate will have to compromise on a version of the Farm Bill. Industry insiders are optimistic that the Hemp Farming Act will be included, and could even pass this year.

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