For many years, hemp was declared illegal due to its association with its identical twin, marijuana. This was part of the War on Drugs, which still continues today. Even in states where marijuana is banned, a loophole in federal drug law allows the sale of Delta 8 products, a substance obtained by isolating a type of THC in the hemp plant. The Farm Bill legalizes hemp, but it doesn't create a system where people can grow it as freely as other plants.
The efforts of Senator McConnell were instrumental in getting hemp provisions into legislation. In 1880, a bill was introduced in the California state legislature that would have prohibited anyone from keeping, selling, supplying or giving away any preparation or mixture made or prepared with opium, hemp or other narcotics without a doctor's prescription in an authorized store. Any cannabis plant containing more than 0.3 percent THC would be considered hemp-free marijuana or marijuana under federal law and would therefore have no legal protection under this new legislation. In the three years since then, producers have learned to cultivate strains of the plant that do not fall under the federal definition of an illegal drug, but they do produce cannabis that can cause consumers a high similar to that of marijuana.
In states that haven't legalized marijuana, this has created a booming market for new products that look and act as illegal products. Even CBD products produced by state legal, medical, or adult cannabis programs are illegal products under federal law, both within states and across state borders. The Farm Bill allows the cultivation of hemp in general, not simply pilot programs to study market interest in hemp-derived products. It also does not impose restrictions on the sale, transportation or possession of hemp-derived products, as long as those items are produced in a manner consistent with the law.
Producers have learned to cultivate strains of the plant that do not fall under the federal definition of an illegal drug, but they do produce cannabis that can cause consumers a high similar to that of marijuana. The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 made it illegal to possess or transfer marijuana throughout the United States under federal law, excluding medical and industrial uses, by imposing a special tax on all sales of hemp. Third, the law outlines actions that are considered violations of federal hemp law (including activities such as growing without a license or producing cannabis with more than 0.3 percent THC). A state's plan to license and regulate hemp can only begin once the USDA Secretary approves that state's plan.