Hemp Exemption

What is known as “hemp” or “industrial hemp” has been used by people for thousands of years to make oils, fabric, rope, and even food. Its many benefits and uses are the reasons why hemp, although it is of the cannabis genus, continues to be a legal import for the United States.

Products made from hemp are found in retail stores nationwide, thanks to a federal exemption to the definition of “marijuana”. Since 1937, the federal statue controlling “marijuana” has excluded the mature stalks, fiber, oil, and any other preparation of the mature stalks of Cannabis sativa L., commonly known as “hemp”, from the definition of “marijuana.” When the Hemp Industries Association defended hemp’s exempt status in 2004, the DEA declined to challenge this ruling, which is why there continues to be a wide variety of hemp products on the market today. Walk into many retail and grocery stores and you will find hemp protein powder, hemp seeds, hemp clothing, and hemp oil.


  1. Hemp Industries Assn., v. Drug Enforcement Admin., 357 F.3d 1012 (9th Cir. 2004): “…non- psychoactive hemp [that] is derived from the ‘mature stalks’ or is ‘oil and cake made from the seeds’ of the Cannabis plant, …fits within the plainly stated exception to the CSA definition of marijuana.” (Id. at )
  2. “The term ‘marijuana’ means all parts of the plant Cannabis Sativa L., whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of such plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such plant, its seeds or resin. Such term does not include the mature stalks of such plant, fiber produced from such stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of such plant, any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such mature stalks (except the resin extracted therefrom), fiber, oil, or cake, or the sterilized seed of such plant which is incapable of germination.” [Emphasis ours]

Source: http://www.fda.gov/RegulatoryInformation/Legislation/ucm148726.htm