Is Hemp Flower Legal In Alabama?
As a state with a long history of agriculture, farmers of a much earlier generation had the rug pulled out from under them when hemp farming became illegal in 1937. But, they adapted and learned to grow other crops. However, history is repeating itself as it often does, and hemp farming is back in the United States and here to stay.
Even more, hemp farming is available for individuals who want to grow, handle, or process this incredible plant. That’s what we’re here to talk about today. We’ll discuss the legal status of hemp, including hemp flower, and where it’s legal to buy some.
Is hemp legal in Alabama?
Yes, in 2019 the state of Alabama had its first legal hemp growing season. It was legal for the first time in many decades for two major reasons. First, in December 2018 the U.S. federal government signed the Hemp Farm Bill into law. This was an updated version of the 2014 Farm Bill. The latter Bill made it legal for academic institutions to grow hemp for research purposes only. Four years later in 2018, President Trump signed the updated Bill that allowed commercial hemp farming throughout the United States. Not only that, but this law also removed industrial hemp from the list of illegal schedule 1 drugs.
Additionally, this law provided an “opening” for states to develop their own Hemp Program. Many states decided to adopt one, while others have not yet. Alabama is one of those states with an official Hemp Program thanks to the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI). They helped make it all possible because they’re the governing body in charge of administering and enforcing the program. They were also the ones who drafted and submitted it for approval by the USDA.
From that point on, the Department started accepting applications from individuals who were interested in growing, handling, or processing industrial hemp. All the rules and requirements for applying are outlined by the ADAI .
Let’s take a closer look at the specific laws for the hemp license holders and citizens of Alabama wanting to buy and consume hemp-derived CBD products.
Hemp Laws In Alabama
Besides filling out some forms and passing a background check, all applicants must pay a $200 fee and if approved for a license must pay a $1,000 per growing area. In addition, the ADAI requires GPS coordinates of the grow area and requires all applicants to attend a mandatory hemp orientation meeting.
Once the license gets issued, and the season begins, the growers can only use ADAI approved pesticides on their crops. In addition, the Alabama Department of Agriculture requires all growers to have an analysis of THC levels performed before each harvest. The first one is covered in the $1,000 upfront fee, but for each additional harvest, the testing fee is $250.
To comply with the rules outlined in the 2018 Farm Bill, the percentage of THC cannot exceed 0.3% on a dry weight basis. If the actual percentage exceeds this amount, all the crops get destroyed.
Marketing and selling hemp-derived CBD products in Alabama, however, is not the responsibility of the ADAI. They can’t issue licenses to retailers or distributors of CBD. When it comes to selling or buying CBD hemp flower, there’s debate on the topic. Some say the sale of unprocessed hemp is not legal, while the Attorney General of Alabama, Steve Marshall, says that all hemp-derived products with less than 0.3% THC are legal.
Given his position and legal expertise, you can buy, consume, and/or smoke CBD hemp flower buds. This leads us to the next question we want to address.
Can you buy hemp flower buds in Alabama?
Yes, there are some retail stores in Alabama that carry a selection of CBD strains. But on the same note, there’s some fear about carrying the raw flower, because it looks identical to its cousin, marijuana. Given the illegal nature of marijuana at the federal level and also in the state of Alabama, officials may mistake one for the other. They might receive a bad “tip” that a store’s selling illegal marijuana when all they’re selling is legal hemp flower.
If this is your first introduction to hemp flower and you’re not quite sure what this means or how it somehow relates to CBD oil and other more well-known products, we’ll take you through it now.
Hemp Flower vs Marijuana Flower
For starters, hemp flower has several other names like buds and nugs. Just like a rose bush produces roses, a cannabis plant produces flowers. Both the hemp and marijuana plants are part of the cannabis Sativa L family of plants. This is how and why they often get mistaken for one another.
To clear things up, the hemp plant’s chemical profile looks a lot different than marijuana’s chemical profile. The largest glaring difference is the concentration of THC levels each one produces. THC or tetrahydrocannabinol is the psychoactive compound in cannabis.
The hemp plant naturally contains high levels of cannabidiol (CBD) and low amounts of THC. Whereas, marijuana is the exact opposite. Many marijuana strains have high THC content and small amounts of CBD.
However, if you were to hold two cannabis flower buds in your hands, it would be difficult to tell which one’s a marijuana strain and which one’s a hemp strain. That’s because their appearance, smell, and texture are very much alike.
Herein lies the problem — hemp flower is legal in Alabama, but marijuana flower is not.
So, some consumers prefer to buy hemp flower online to get first-hand proof of what they’re buying. They get this proof from the Certificate of Analysis (COA). This is a report issued by third-party labs that contains information about the various cannabinoids in the plant. In general, these labs look for a dozen or so cannabinoids, like CBD, THC, CBG, CBC, CBN, CBDV, and a few others.
The “Cannabinoid Analysis” on the COA tells you the exact percentage of each one, which is all the evidence you need.
Can you buy hemp flower buds online?
Yes, you can and it’s legal to do so. Like we just mentioned, make sure to review the COA first before you buy anything. Confirm the Delta-9 THC percentage is at or below 0.3%. But thanks to the popularity of e-commerce, the ease of online shopping, and the U.S. federal Farm Bill of 2018, it’s legal to sell and buy hemp flower online.
But like buying clothes, shoes, supplements, or food products online, you also want to take your time buying hemp flower buds. Because not all are grown in the same conditions. Not all companies value organic farming practices, and not everyone carefully cures their buds to bring out the most amazing smells and terpene profiles.
These things matter if you want the best smoking experience and optimal effects. So, looking for premium hemp flower is the way to go. And we’re here to help you find it.
How to identify the best hemp flower?
To find high-quality, artisan hemp flower the first thing to do is trace the plant’s life cycle from seed to harvest and even post-harvest. Because this is when the curing process happens (or doesn’t in some non-ideal cases). Of course, organic is always a better farming practice because certain chemicals and pesticides are avoided. In addition, soil quality matters, because that’s where heavy metals live.
Since hemp is a bio-accumulator, it sucks up and absorbs everything in its path, including heavy metals if they’re present in the ground. Organic, lab-tested CBD buds won’t have any traces of heavy metals or pesticides for that matter.
So, after you’ve confirmed the organic nature of your hemp flower strain, the next part is to find its CBD percentage and read about the terpene profile. Track down a copy of the lab report that shows which terpenes are inside the buds. Together the CBD concentration and the terpene percentages will enhance the effects and benefits you get from smoking CBD hemp flower.
Another way to learn about the quality of the hemp buds is to read customer reviews. Seems a bit obvious, right? But, sometimes we don’t make time to read these. If you do, however, you’ll get some good insider information and advice about a particular strain.
Final thoughts on hemp flower in Alabama
Hemp farming is legal in Alabama. Hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3% THC are legal in Alabama. And that means hemp flower is also legal in this southern state. So, feel free to buy CBD flower online if your heart is called to try some. Or visit a local store or dispensary if that’s available to you.
Either way, we hope you enjoy the pure joy and magic from smoking CBD hemp flower, especially organic CBD nugs.Have you seen questions circulating the web about the legalities of hemp flower in Alabama? If so, you might want to learn the facts. Read this article to find what you need to know.
Is CBD oil legal in Alabama?
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- What is CBD?
- Why is CBD sometimes illegal?
- Alabama CBD laws
- Where to buy CBD in Alabama
- How to read CBD labels and packaging
The rules and regulations around cannabidiol (CBD) in Alabama seem murky on the surface, yet the Yellowhammer State is one of the most CBD-friendly states in the country. Consumers in Alabama enjoy general access to CBD and CBD products that meet the legal definition as outlined in the 2018 Farm Bill, while licensed Alabama-based growers and processors can create and sell industrial hemp products.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol is a non-intoxicating molecule found in cannabis. It is the second-most abundant-cannabinoid in the plant after THC and has many potential therapeutic benefits, including analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, and seizure-suppressant properties. CBD can be sourced from either marijuana or hemp plants.
CBD stands for cannabidiol, a non-intoxicating substance found in cannabis. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Why is CBD sometimes illegal?
Even though industrial hemp doesn’t produce enough THC to intoxicate consumers, all varieties of cannabis, including hemp, were swept into the category of Schedule 1 narcotics by the 1970 Federal Controlled Substances Act. The law defined cannabis as a substance with no accepted medical use, a likelihood for addiction, and a high potential for abuse.
In 2018, Congress passed the Farm Bill and legalized hemp cultivation, creating a pathway to remove cannabis from Schedule 1. The Farm Bill defined hemp as cannabis that contains less than 0.3% THC by weight and marijuana as cannabis with more than that amount. Hemp-derived CBD was thus removed from its Schedule 1 designation, but CBD derived from the marijuana plant is still considered federally illegal because of marijuana’s federally illegal status. Hemp is considered an agricultural commodity, but still must be produced and sold under specific federal regulations, which were not finalized when hemp was legalized.
The Farm Bill also endowed the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with the ability to regulate CBD’s labeling, therapeutic claims, and presence in foods or drinks. Despite the Farm Bill’s passage, the FDA has issued a directive that no CBD, even hemp-derived, may be added to food or beverages or marketed as a dietary supplement. As time passes, the FDA has begun re-evaluating that stance on CBD products but has yet to revise rules or specifically regulate CBD products. The FDA’s slow movement has created further confusion on the state level. The FDA has historically been strict when it comes to health claims or content that could be understood as medical advice — and makes no exception for CBD. In July 2019, the FDA sent a letter to Curaleaf warning that the CBD maker was making unproven claims about its effectiveness in treating such conditions attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, and opioid withdrawal. In April 2019, the FDA also warned three other CBD makers over making unproven health claims.
Hemp production and sale, including its cannabinoids and CBD specifically, remain tightly regulated federally. The Farm Bill provides that individual states may also regulate and even prohibit CBD cultivation and commerce. States may attempt to regulate CBD in food, beverage, dietary supplements, and cosmetic products independently of the FDA’s rules.
Alabama CBD laws
Before the 2018 Farm Bill, Alabama had a budding, though restrictive, medical CBD program in place. On April 1, 2014, Republican Gov. Robert Bentley signed SB 174, known as Carly’s Law, which allowed an affirmative defense for individuals using CBD to treat a debilitating epileptic condition. Patients could receive a prescription for possession or use of CBD only through the University of Alabama-Birmingham. This made access to CBD difficult, as the term “prescribe” is a federal term; most legalized medical marijuana states allow doctors to “recommend” it.
On May 4, 2016, Bentley signed HB 61. Known as Leni’s Law, named for Leni Young of Alabama who successfully treated her seizures with CBD. The act widened access to CBD by expanding the definition of qualifying conditions to include specified debilitating conditions that produce seizures. However, access to CBD was still highly restricted and the only FDA-approved form was GW Pharmaceuticals’ Epidiolex.
Following the 2014 Farm Bill passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama, the Alabama Legislature passed the Alabama Industrial Hemp Research Program Act in 2016, tasking the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI) with the development of a licensing and inspection program for the production of industrial hemp. The ADAI slowly drafted and finalized regulations in September 2018, only months before the 2018 Farm Bill was signed, which broadly legalized CBD and CBD products that contained less than 0.3% THC by weight.
Following the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, Republican Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall affirmed the legality of CBD products that are sold by a licensed vendor and contain no more than 0.3% THC by weight. However, Marshall cautioned buyers to be careful when purchasing, as Alabama has yet to draft regulations for the testing and labeling of CBD products.
While CBD products with less than 0.3% THC are now broadly legal and available for sale and purchase in Alabama, the ADAI still regulates and licenses industrial hemp growers and processors under the 2014 Farm Bill’s rules. They will continue to operate under the pilot program until the FDA finalizes industrial hemp regulations and reviews and approves the rules submitted by the ADAI.
Relation to Federal Law
In July 2019, Republican Gov. Kay Ivey signed SB 225, which redefined and rescheduled CBD to align with federal definitions and allowed Alabama pharmacies to sell CBD products.
While the ADAI will collaborate with FDA rules to create regulations in accordance with the 2018 Farm Bill, the Alabama Industrial Hemp Research Program remains in effect. CBD products are legal, but it is illegal for growers and processors to work with industrial hemp in Alabama without a permit.
The Alabama Industrial Hemp Research Program required applicants to submit all materials and application fees annually, including criminal background checks. Growers and processor applicants must pay a $200 application fee and a $1,000 annual fee upon approval.
At the ADAI commissioner’s discretion, the department requires regular sample lab testing to confirm that the crop or processed hemp product contains less than 0.3% THC. The grower or processor is responsible for the lab testing fee, which is approximately $200 per sample. There are no requirements for labeling or posting test results for participants in the pilot program.
There are no regulations for sales of products that meet the 0.3% THC threshold of CBD. Business or individuals that sell any cannabis product containing more than the legal amount of THC can be charged with a felony, and face a sentence of two to 20 years in prison and a find of up to $30,000. Sales of cannabis to a minor can be punishable by a 10 years-to-life sentence and a maximum $60,000 fine.
Participants in the Alabama Industrial Hemp Research Program are required to submit several reports regularly to the ADAI. Failure to submit any report, reporting false information, not paying fees, or growing a hemp product that tests above the legal THC limits are all in violation of ADAI regulations. These violations are subject to civil penalties up to $500 and disciplinary sanctions including revocation of an application.
Growers also are subject to existing Alabama code regarding possession, cultivation, sale, or use of cannabis above the legal THC limits. The cultivation or manufacturing of cannabis can result in a sentence of two years to life and a fine of up to a $60,000, depending on the degree of manufacture.
Alabama CBD possession limits
There are no possession limits on CBD products in Alabama, as long as the product contains no more than 0.3% THC.
To meet federal legal criteria, CBD oil must contain no more than 0.3 percent THC. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
The possession of any amount of cannabis above the legal limit of THC content is a misdemeanor, which can be punished by up to one year of jail and a maximum fine of $6,000.
Where to buy CBD in Alabama
Alabama consumers can purchase CBD products both in-person and online. Typically, CBD products are sold at CBD-specific shops and wellness and health food stores. In Alabama, pharmacies can sell CBD products over the counter, as long as they are sourced from legal producers and contain no more than 0.3% THC.
Consumers may also purchase CBD products online, typically directly through a specific brand’s website. Many online checkout processes work for CBD companies based in the United States, but some online processors consider CBD as a “restricted business,” so not all payment methods may be available.
How to read CBD labels and packaging
As the FDA slowly determines the rules around CBD’s legality, the buzzwords and descriptors on a product’s label could raise potential red flags about a product’s quality or content. How a CBD product is labeled and marketed plays a critical role in whether the FDA determines it to be lawful, so it’s important to understand what certain words or numbers indicate.
CBD product labels should not make claims about any therapeutic or medical results, which the FDA would classify as a drug and in violation of current regulations. Reputable CBD companies typically adhere to stricter labeling standards voluntarily to give their consumers better understanding and access to higher-quality products. Buzz words, such as “pure” or “organic,” have no scientific meaning for hemp and could be misleading marketing slogans.
The type of CBD should also be clearly stated. The current definitions include the following:
- Full-spectrum CBD oil contains cannabis-derived terpenes, trace amounts of THC, and other cannabinoids.
- Broad-spectrum CBD contains a similar array of cannabinoids and terpenes but removes the THC trace amounts through processing.
- CBD isolate has been stripped of all other compounds, resulting in a crystalline powder that is 99% pure CBD.
Consumers typically should look for the following on their CBD labels:
- Amount of active CBD per serving.
- Supplement Facts label, including other ingredients.
- Manufacturer/distributor name.
- Net weight.
- Suggested use.
- Full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or isolate.
- Batch or date code.