Hemp Knowledge, Marijuana

Hemp vs Marijuana Regulations: A Legal Battle in Maryland

Hemp vs Marijuana Regulations in Maryland

In recent times, Maryland has been progressive in revising its stance on marijuana, leading to its legalization for both medical and recreational use on July 1, 2023, via the enactment of Maryland Senate Bill 516 (SB 516). However, the state’s journey towards a more liberal cannabis regulatory framework has sparked a legal tussle concerning the equal treatment of hemp and marijuana under the new laws, particularly under the Cannabis Reform Act (CRA) introduced in spring 2023.

One significant legal confrontation materialized in the case of Hemp Coalition vs. Wes Moore on October 12, 2023, where the plaintiffs, represented by the Maryland Hemp Coalition alongside growers, producers, and retailers, challenged the CRA’s licensing scheme. They argued that the CRA unjustly subjects hemp, a low THC substance, to the same stringent regulations as marijuana, a high THC substance, thereby infringing on their rights under Maryland’s Constitution. Although Wes Moore led the defendants’ attempt to have the case dismissed, the judge chose to proceed.

The crux of the matter lies in the fairness of the CRA’s licensing scheme, which, according to the plaintiffs, adversely affects hemp sales, violates Maryland’s anti-monopoly laws, and infringes on due process rights. The plaintiffs believe the previous lenient rules sufficed for governing hemp sales. The court’s preliminary inclination aligns with the hemp industry’s argument, suggesting that the CRA, when applied to hemp, contradicts the more lenient federal law, specifically the 2018 Farm Bill. As a result, temporary relief has been granted to the hemp industry while the case evolves.

This legal battle highlights how complex the relationships between state and federal laws are when it comes to regulating hemp and marijuana, especially when it comes to sales. It draws attention to the continuous battle between upholding federal law, state law, and industry interests while navigating Maryland’s changing legal environment regarding cannabis regulation. 

Moreover, this case dives into legal theories like the Rational Basis Test to gauge the constitutionality of legislative enactments, reflecting the legal complexity surrounding hemp and marijuana regulation within the state.

For Maryland residents and stakeholders in the cannabis industry, understanding the distinctions and legal ramifications surrounding hemp and marijuana is crucial. While marijuana’s recreational use is now legal, the ongoing legal battle portrays a more nuanced picture regarding hemp, urging a closer examination of state and federal laws and their impact on the local hemp industry.

This narrative serves as a precursor for anyone seeking to navigate the legal intricacies surrounding hemp and marijuana in Maryland. For a more detailed exploration, consulting with legal professionals or referring to official state resources on cannabis laws and regulations in Maryland is advisable.

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A Maryland Judge’s Decision Will Permit The Reopening Of Closed Hemp Businesses

Due to a recent preliminary injunction by a circuit court judge, some businesses in Maryland that were closed following a new state law will soon be able to reopen. Judge Brett R. Wilson suspended a section of the state’s cannabis law enforcement, which had previously forced CBD shops to halt the sales of products with intoxicating levels of THC derived from hemp, reserving this market for newly licensed medical marijuana companies. Attorney Nevin Young, who is representing the plaintiffs, stated that the injunction is a relief for those hemp retailers who were forced to close their doors as a result of the new law, allowing them to resume operations.

This new development has disappointed Maryland officials, who say it undermines efforts to make THC-containing products safer for consumers. The officials draw attention to the fact that, aside from the recently created regulatory framework, hemp-derived products such as delta-8 THC, delta-10 THC, and synthetic, lab-made THC products lack testing, labeling, or manufacturing standards. The Maryland Cannabis Administration’s director, William Tilburg, expressed disappointment with the court’s ruling, which permits the sale of these untested and unregulated hemp-derived products going forward.

The case underscores the financial and human toll the law had on hemp business owners, contrasting the state’s aim to ensure product safety with its social equity efforts in the cannabis industry. The ongoing legal battle highlights the challenges of balancing regulatory oversight with the economic viability of local businesses amidst the evolving landscape of cannabis legalization and regulation.

Overall, this means that your favorite hemp-derived cannabinoids, like Delta 8 are legal again.

Frequently Asked Questions

All THC products generated from hemp, including delta-8 THC products, are allowed to be freely sold in Maryland.

What Is Hemp?

Hemp is a class of Cannabis sativa plant used for medical and industrial purposes, legally defined as a cannabis plant with no more than 0.3% delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) on a dry weight basis. Unlike marijuana, hemp doesn’t induce a “high,” as it contains more cannabidiol (CBD) than THC. Hemp is used to manufacture products like biofuels, paper, rope, textiles, and plastics and also has medicinal applications​ 1​.

What Are Some Common Hemp Products Available in Maryland?

Hemp products like hemp flowers, hemp-derived CBD, hemp-derived cannabinoids that come in all types of products like vapes, and hemp oil are legally available in Maryland. You can shop with CannaAid to find all the hemp-derived products that you need.

Where Can I Purchase Hemp Products in Maryland?

The legality of hemp products suggests they can be purchased from licensed retailers, though specific stores weren’t found in the sources. The best online source of hemp-derived products is CannaAid.

How Is Hemp Cultivated in Maryland?

Hemp cultivation in Maryland requires registration under one of two programs managed by the Maryland Department of Agriculture: the Maryland Hemp Farming Program for commercial purposes and the Maryland Hemp Research Pilot Program for research purposes​ 1​.

Are There Any Restrictions on Growing Hemp in Maryland?

Restrictions include compliance with state and federal laws, obtaining necessary licenses, and ensuring hemp’s THC content remains below 0.3% ​1​.

Yes, individuals can start a hemp-related business in Maryland following the legal frameworks and obtaining necessary permits 1​.

How Does the State of Maryland Regulate Hemp and Hemp Products?

Regulation is managed by the Maryland Department of Agriculture, under the framework of the Maryland State Hemp Plan approved by the USDA, adhering to federal laws​1​.

What Is the Difference Between Hemp and Marijuana?

The primary difference is the THC content; hemp contains no more than 0.3% THC, while marijuana has a higher THC concentration, causing psychoactive effects​​.

Does Hemp Contain THC? If so, How Much?

Yes, hemp contains THC but in very low concentrations of no more than 0.3%​​.

How Can I Obtain a License to Grow Hemp in Maryland?

Licenses can be obtained by applying online via the Maryland application portal, following a two-part application process including background checks, selection of cultivation site, and payment of a $50 application fee​1​.

Where Can I Find Information on the Laws and Regulations Concerning Hemp in Maryland?

Information can be found on the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s website or through the Maryland State Hemp Program​1​.

How Can I Contribute to the Hemp Industry in Maryland?

By supporting local businesses and voting on representatives that have supported the hemp industry. Voting for the proper representation will in turn help the hemp industry Maryland.


About Alice Smith

Alice Smith boasts extensive expertise in CBD, backed by years of dedicated research and educational experience. Passionate about promoting natural health and wellness, she has devoted her career to elucidating the advantages of CBD and exploring its diverse applications.

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