California has a fascinating history when it comes to cannabis. In 1996, it became the first state in the U.S. to legalize medical marijuana when it passed Prop 215, known as the Compassionate Use Act of 1996. Even though this Act went into effect decades ago, about a third of the U.S. still doesn’t have a marijuana medical program.
But when it comes to industrial hemp, the story differs. Yes, these two plants both come from cannabis Sativa L. yet the path to growing hemp on farms in California has been slow at best. Find out what this means for legal hemp farming and buying hemp flower in California.
California Hemp Laws
It’s taken a considerable amount of time for hemp seeds to grace the fields of California's agricultural mecca. Most surprisingly, California’s Industrial Farming Act became legal on the first day of 2017. But that was a result of a provision outlined in Prop 64: Adult Use of Marijuana Act that passed November 2016.
As you can see, this was a more of an indirect, rather than direct attempt to pass the Hemp Farming Plan. The triggering of this provision left a lot of people unprepared. And so, the state department of agriculture (CDFA) left it up to each county’s agricultural commissioner and staff to approve hemp cultivation licenses.
By the middle of 2019, several counties throughout the state still made it impossible to apply for a hemp license. There were a few reasons for this. First was the lack of federal guidelines. Then people had a concern about the vague nature of the state laws.
Finally, a good amount of agricultural land, especially in northern California, is and has been used to grow weed. If hemp were to grow nearby, they’d worry about cross-pollination, which isn't good for either plant.
For the counties that can grow industrial hemp, all interested persons must apply for a license with their county. The application process requires a $900 fee, specific details like the location and acreage of the farms where the hemp will grow, and the name of the grower.
These requirements are less strict than many other state’s licensing requirements. In addition, there are no laws or licenses needed to manufacture, process, or sell non-food related hemp products in California. As for food, drinks, and cosmetics containing CBD, the state proposed a framework to regulate these types of hemp-derived products.
Furthermore, like the rest of the hemp farmers throughout the country, anyone with a license to grow hemp in California must have the THC levels tested. This test must occur less than 30 days before the anticipated harvest date. The testing of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) must come back at less than 0.3%. Otherwise, by law, the crops have to get destroyed.
Can I grow hemp at home?
The answer may come as a surprise given that anyone over 21 years old has the ability to grow marijuana at home in the state of California. But, when it comes to industrial hemp, California law does not allow people to legally grow it at home.
While reading over the California Department of Food & Agriculture’s website, they didn’t provide a reason as to why this is the law. It seems unclear for now, but that may change as the state expands its hemp farming program.
What is the difference between hemp and marijuana?
As you just read, California state law treats these two plants a bit differently. When it comes to marijuana, residents can grow up to six plants from home thanks to legalization. But, hemp is treated differently than marijuana. Although the reason doesn’t appear obvious, laws around hemp may become more relaxed in the future.
But for now, let’s clear up any questions or confusion about these two species of cannabis plants. First, marijuana strains have high levels of THC, the intoxicating cannabinoid found in the plant. In contrast, the plant naturally produces low levels of CBD.
The opposite is true for industrial hemp. The hemp plant produces large concentrations of CBD and only tiny amounts of THC. And it must contain less than 0.3% for the crops to get processed into legal CBD products.
Besides their chemical makeup, when you’re talking about the physical appearance of hemp and marijuana, they’re identical. If someone in front of you was holding out a hemp flower bud in their left hand and a marijuana bud in their right, it would be hard to tell them apart.
Even their smells are similar. Whether it be fruity and citrusy, or piney and skunky. They both contain terpenes, so they have very aromatic smells.
Furthermore, these two cannabis plants have something else in common. They can be Sativa or Indica plant. These names represent the growing characteristics, colors, and the shape of the dried buds.
In total, the biggest difference that people seem to care about is the THC percentage. Although THC isn’t the “bad guy” some people don’t tolerate it well, have to get drug tested for it, or live in states where it’s illegal. So, for these reasons, CBD hemp flower appeals to more users.
Is CBD flower legal in California?
Yes, you can legally buy hemp flower in California. As we mentioned earlier, there are no state laws restricting its sale. And you won’t be hard-pressed to find some either. After all, California is no stranger to cannabis as you’ve learned.
Can I smoke CBD flower in public?
As of now, no you cannot smoke CBD flower, medical or recreational marijuana in public. If you don’t have a balcony, patio, or backyard to smoke in, consider looking into a smoke filter. They can help you remain discreet, and keep the smoke and smell out of the house and walls.
Where to buy CBD flower?
You can look for hemp flower in a local store or search for some CBD buds through an online hemp flower dispensary. Regardless of which one you choose, we want to help you identify the cream of the crop, otherwise known as artisan hemp flower or organic CBD nugs.
Tips for buying online
Even though there’s not a live person to talk to when buying online, it can still be a fun and easy process. And when you do have questions, give the company a call or send them an email.
Ok, so let’s start with step one. The first thing you want to do is find the top CBD strains you’re interested in. To do this, run a quick google search or start by researching a few of our favorite strains like Lifter, Sour Space Candy, or Hawaiian Haze.
The information you’ll find on each strain will include the total CBD percentage, as well as the percentage of every other cannabinoid in the strain. For instance, you’ll see if the Delta 9 THC levels are less than 0.3%, as mandated by state and federal laws. Also, there may be other awesome cannabinoids such as CBC, CBN, CBG, CBDV, CBL, and more.
Look at CBD percentage
The CBD percentage can range from 12% t0 20%. So, if you’re a brand new hemp smoker, you might want to start with a lower percentage. But, it’s all up to you. Remember, CBD isn’t psychoactive, but it still has effects. So, go with what feels comfortable to you.
Read about terpenes
Other information you may want to look up is the terpene profile. Terpenes give the plant its aroma and flavor. You’ll find terpenes in flowers, fruit, trees, herbs — nearly anything that grows from the Earth has terpenes.
Some of the most common terpenes you’ll read about are Myrcene, Caryophyllene, Limonene, Pinene, Linalool, Humulene, Bisabolol, and a few others. If you’re curious, look up the effects and therapeutic potential of a few terpenes. This may help you decide the type of strain you want to buy.
Read about the source of hemp
Hemp flower grown in the United States has a strong reputation for quality. And at a minimum, it’s been lab-tested for cannabinoid levels. Again, this proves the actual CBD potency and THC level.
Not only that, but some farmers in the United States are using sustainable and organic farming methods, as they once did before the GMO era. The demand for natural, unadulterated crops grows day by day. And this isn’t only beneficial for you, the consumer, it’s also great for the land and the planet.
As such, tracking down organic CBD nugs won’t be impossible. Yet, on the same token, not every CBD company offers this. Only the best ones do.
In this article, we covered the hemp farming laws in California. Anyone who wants to grow industrial hemp must apply for a license. But, no license is required to manufacture or sell hemp-based CBD products.
Also, we learned that you can buy hemp flower and consume it. Yet, you can’t smoke it in a public place. Finally, there are some helpful tips to consider before buying CBD buds. Look at the cannabinoid and terpene profiles of the hemp strain, and confirm it grew on farms that use organic growing methods.