Hemp has been used for centuries in the industrial and medical fields. People often associate hemp with marijuana because they both derive from the cannabis plant, but the two are very different. Marijuana contains a psychoactive substance called THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), while hemp does not.
According to Forbes, “many in the cannabis industry claim that as long as the CBD product contains less than 0.3% THC, it is classified as hemp under federal law and is therefore legal to possess and distribute.”
The 2014 Farm Bill called for a distinction between hemp and marijuana. The hemp industry often blames the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) for prohibiting the growing, cultivating and marketing of hemp. The goal of the Farm Bill is to take the DEA out of the equation so it would have no authority over hemp itself. This would gives states the power to oversee hemp production as well as give farmers the opportunity to obtain hemp growing licenses and allow researchers to apply for competitive federal grants from the USDA.
Unfortunately Congress failed to compromise on the 2014 Farm Bill before it expired in September. This resulted in the defunding of many programs that directly impacted farmers. The failure of the Senate and House of Representatives to come to an agreement about the Farm Bill has caused backlashes, and put the legality of hemp on hold until further notice.