Kentucky has a long and important history of hemp farming. If you ask the younger generations living in the Bluegrass State, they may not know much about it because hemp wasn’t a major agricultural cash crop during the last 70 years. However, during the 1800s and the first part of the 1900s, the state produced the majority of hemp in the entire country.
So when the 2014 Farm Bill got signed into law, allowing for the research of industrial hemp, it didn’t come as a surprise that Kentucky took part in this Hemp Pilot Program. Universities signed up to participate so they could study and understand the agricultural and potential medicinal benefits of the plant.
It wasn’t until the updated 2018 Farm Bill went into effect, that industrial hemp farming became legal throughout the U.S., and not just for research purposes. Besides legal hemp farming, this same Bill authorized the sale of hemp-derived wellness products and CBD flower throughout all 50 states.
Yet, not everyone chose to adopt a hemp farming program in their state. But, this article is all about Kentucky, so let’s examine how they decided to respond to the Farming Bill of 2018.
Kentucky Hemp Laws
At the end of 2018, the state of Kentucky opened up an application process to interested parties wanting to apply for a grower’s, processor’s, or handler’s hemp license for the 2019 season. To oversee and regulate the Industrial Hemp Program, the state put the Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) in charge of approving and overseeing the licensing process.
In 2019, the KDA issued close to 1,000 licenses to qualified applicants. And that number stayed about the same for 2020. The year 2019 marked the first year that hemp seeds were planted in the ground for decades, but hemp-related sales managed to come in at over $100 million. This gave a nice boost to Kentucky’s agricultural sector, in the financial sense, in terms of morale and optimism for the future of this crop. We don’t know what 2020 will bring in terms of sales, given this uncertain time in history.
What is known, however, is that in 2019 the KDA says Kentucky farmers grew on 26,500 acres of hemp, while 32,000 acres were licensed in 2020. In addition to this acreage, the KDA approved licenses for 4.6 million square feet of greenhouse space.
Besides these stats, we learned some other interesting nuances about the state’s Hemp Program. As of the date of this writing, Kentucky growers, processors, and handlers cannot manufacture CBD flower into hemp cigarettes, hemp cigars, chew, dip, or CBD hemp tea.
So, where does that leave CBD hemp nugs? We’ll get into that question right now.
Are hemp flower buds legal in Kentucky?
According to the Hemp Farming Program that’s administered by the KDA, licensed growers, handlers, and processors cannot sell or market hemp flower buds in the state. Since they have this law, as a consumer you won’t find stores selling hemp flower in Kentucky. That means no CBD buds, ground-up material, or hemp pre-rolls.
However, the 2018 Farm Bill permits the shipment of hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3% THC to all 50 states in the U.S. That means you can find one of the best CBD hemp strains for sale at a number of different online hemp flower dispensaries.
Is it legal to buy hemp flower online?
Yes, you can legally buy CBD flower online. There are many CBD businesses that sell a range of products on their web-based platforms. And many of them provide important details about the hemp strain, the smells, tastes, potential effects, and post clear, up-close images of the buds.
But before you checkout and click the “buy button” consider our recommendations and tips so you get what you deserve — high-quality hemp flower.
Key characteristics of premium hemp flower
One of the most critical details to pay attention to is the source of hemp. Where did the hemp grow? Many of the CBD buds you’ll find for sale grew on farms in the U.S. To grow legal hemp in America, every farmer must have a license. And there are strict standards to comply with while growing and cultivating the plants. All these rules and regulations generally translate to healthy crops.
Even more, some farmers take sustainability and the use of organic growing methods seriously. This means they take care of the soil, rotate their crops, avoid chemical sprays, and cultivate their plants in the most natural way possible.
Many of the brands selling hemp flower will tell you where they source their hemp from and go into the details about the farming practices. This is important to read over because it gives you insight into the quality of the CBD nugs.
Another important data point to look out for is the cannabinoid content. This not only ensures you find the best potency for you, but it gives you proof that the product contains less than 0.3% Delta-9 THC.
You can track down the percentages of each cannabinoid on the Certificate of Analysis. This is a report issued by the third-party lab that tests the flower. The CBD percentage can range from 12% to 19%. And the higher the percentage, the higher the potency.
Lastly, for flower to be artisan hemp flower, it requires curing. This is a step some companies skip, but it helps enhance the flavors and freshness of the buds, making the process of smoking or vaping with the dry herb that much better. The increase in flavors comes from terpenes, which not only make the bud taste great, but the terpenes have therapeutic potential as well.
Is hemp flower different from marijuana?
Yes, there are some key differences between hemp and marijuana. Yet, there are also some similarities, so let’s start with those first. Hemp and marijuana both come from the cannabis Sativa L. family of plants. Hence, their appearance, smell, and even taste are very similar. So, to the untrained eye, both a hemp bud and a marijuana bud could easily be confused for one another.
However, these plants have very different and distinct chemical profiles. For instance, CBD flower produces high levels of cannabidiol and low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). And marijuana is the exact opposite. It has a large concentration of THC, the psychoactive compound, and very low percentages of CBD.
Can you smoke hemp in Kentucky?
If you want to smoke your CBD hemp flower in public, that may cause issues or unwanted attention. As we mentioned earlier in the article, hemp nugs look very similar to marijuana flower, and the smells are identical. So, this makes it tricky to smoke legal hemp flower in a state like Kentucky, where medical marijuana hasn’t become legal yet.
However, that doesn't mean you can’t smoke your CBD buds in private, like at your home, or a friend’s house. Or you can even decide to smoke half of your flower while using the other half (or another ratio) to infuse in oil. From there you can add some to your morning coffee, tea, or use some to make a DIY bath bomb or face cream.
Kentucky isn’t perfect (but who is) when it comes to their cannabis policies and laws. But, they’re more open and progressive than many other states in the U.S. With the help of the KDA, they’ve run a successful Hemp Pilot Program since 2014, and opened up hemp farming for commercial and agricultural purposes at the beginning of 2019.
So, progress is happening and great strides are taking place. Plus, the state is very close to legalizing medical marijuana because many residents are in favor of it. All in all, this is good news.
However, it’s important to reiterate that certain hemp-derived products, like hemp cigarettes and CBD tea, aren’t sold in the state. Because the KDA won’t allow it. But, in accordance with the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill, the sale of hemp based products with less than 0.3% THC is legal in every state. This makes it possible to find and order hemp flower online.