Smoking Hemp Is Generally Legal, but Be Careful

Smoking hemp is becoming a trend.  CBD proponents feel this delivery method enables them to feel the benefits of the supplement faster; some are using it to replace smoking cigarettes or weed. Hemp and marijuana have many similarities, in smell, look, and taste. Consuming hemp is legal, depending on where it is smoked, but it’s all blurred lines to law enforcement officers.

Hemp and marijuana are from the same cannabis family, the difference is the amount of THC that is in them. Hemp is also cultivated quite differently from marijuana. Hemp is grown in areas similar to where corn thrives, and it is used for CBD, textiles, oils, food products and more.  

Although marijuana can be used for similar purposes, it thrives in a moist and very controlled environment. Marijuana is usually grown for medicinal purposes, as well as for its psychoactive effects, and much more. Both marijuana and hemp contain CBD.  However, marijuana plants have more THC. When both plants are dried and cured, they look the same and are most likely indistinguishable, except by a THC test. 

The CBD from marijuana plants is not legal here in the U.S., that is because of the 2018 Hemp Growers Act, which allows the cultivation of hemp plants, and its derivatives such as CBD. Under this law, CBD is legal if it comes from hemp, and contains 0.3% or less THC. Marijuana, although legal in some states, is still considered a controlled substance and is illegal on a federal level as of this writing.

Our bodies process CBD and THC differently, through the endocannabinoid system. This system is a naturally occurring pathway.  When cannabis is consumed, the substance is received by several receptors. In this case, CB1 receptors, mostly located in the brain and central nervous system, and CB2 receptor cells in peripheral systems such as skin, nerves, and muscles.

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CB1 receptors recognize THC or tetrahydrocannabinol, and this affects a few cognitive processes, thereby producing a psychoactive feeling, or a ‘high’. CB2 receptors pick up on CBD, or cannabidiol, which affects muscles, nerves, skin and more, and may help issues of anxiety, stress, skin disorders, and pain management.

What the Law says

legal cannabis

Marijuana is legal in 33 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands for medicinal use.  An additional 13 states will allow the limited use of “low THC, high cannabidiol (CBD)” products for medical reasons and/or in a legal defense. 

Hemp is legal on a federal level within the U.S., but it is up to each state to determine its public use. It is really at the discretion of a law enforcement agent if smoked hemp is considered marijuana, legal hemp, medicinal hemp and the gray areas in-between.

Some states include CBD vaping when referring to smokable hemp. Many choose smoking hemp this way for rapid pain management. According to CBD Kryo, consuming the supplement this way will reduce pain throughout the body, with long-lasting relief, especially for chronic conditions such as arthritis.

North Carolina

legal hemp


North Carolina may ban smokable hemp because law enforcement officers can’t tell the difference between the smell of hemp and marijuana when either is smoked. The North Carolina Farm act was passed by the House and sent to the Senate, with the ambition of modifying the definition of hemp to exclude it in its smokable form. The bill may begin in May of 2020, however, police could potentially use a case of being caught smoking hemp as a reason to search and arrest a person.

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The lawmakers debated whether smokable hemp should be a controlled substance, as is marijuana. Some felt that if the bill passes, the profits of North Carolina hemp farmers could suffer. Despite this, law enforcement officials claimed that smokable hemp is too similar to marijuana in appearance and odor and that they may not be able to seize suspected marijuana in situations because of a possible legal hemp argument.


cannabis hill

Texas recently signed a bill that makes hemp growth, its production, and the sale of its derivatives (such as CBD) legal. However, the bill strictly prohibits growing and making hemp for smoking. Also, the bill made provisions for random testing of CBD sold in stores and requires permits before retail stores may sell CBD products. 

According to CBD Kryo, retail outlets have been raided and people arrested, even if they are carrying CBD that has a low THC content.


cannabis shop


Louisiana Gov. Jon Bel Edwards recently made growing industrial hemp and selling hemp-derived CBD products legal in the state. The bill removed hemp from the controlled substances list and reclassified it as an agricultural product. However, the bill prohibits the sale of items containing CBD: smokable products, alcohol, food products or beverages.

In this case, smokable hemp also applies to vape pens. According to CBD Kryo, people opt for vaping because it efficiently delivers CBD into the body, with effects that can be felt in as little as 5-10 seconds, or within 5-10 minutes.



Some Indiana companies and the Midwest Hemp Council recently sued the state of Indiana, as well as its governor, to dispute the state’s ban on smokable hemp. The plaintiffs felt that the SEA 516 bill criminalized smokable hemp even though it is legal under federal law.

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Under the SEA 516 bill, criminal penalties will apply to those dealing, manufacturing, financing, or possessing smokable hemp. However, CBD vaporizers remain legal in Indiana.


legal marijuana

In Miami, Fla., one could be arrested or fined for smoking any cannabis product on public property, even if it is for medicinal use. Commissioners voted that public property such as sidewalks, beaches, and parks were off-limits to any type of cannabis smoking.  This act is treated as an offense on the same level as violating their open (alcohol) container laws. 


The definition of smokable hemp differs from state to state, it’s best to research what is acceptable, especially if you plan on visiting and need CBD as a treatment. CBD is used to treat many conditions such as anxiety, pain management, and sleeping disorders. According to CBD Kryo, the use of CBD vapes is growing in popularity and could be an alternative to smoking hemp in a joint or pipe.

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Marina Turea

Marina has been calling Chicago home since 2007. She's a world traveler and an avid reader.

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