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Is Cannabis/Hemp Legal in the United States?

Marijuana and Hemp have been around for about 8,000 years when it was first discovered in Turkey.

But since then, the United States has argued over whether or not this plant is legal to consume or even grow. But where is it legal to grow cannabis or hemp?

There are actually a few places in the United States, where it’s legal, but keep reading to find out everything you need to know about how to legally grow cannabis and hemp!

Laws may change and this information may not be up to date. Please check with your state and local city laws to verify and information shown here.  For more information on the current status of Cannabis/Hemp on breakdown of the specifics in 2021, click here.

Hemp Before 2018

Before you can understand where we are, you should know a little bit of the backstory surrounding the legality of hemp.

Even though it was banned in the past, the United States actually started growing it during World War II. This was part of their “Hemp for Victory Program.”

The first commercial hemp fields in the 1900s were actually located in Wisconsin.

However, after World War II, in 1970, the United States classified marijuana and hemp as Schedule I drug, which meant that it became a lot more restricted for use and for growing. If anyone was caught growing it, they faced a lot of penalties and fees for it.

But the United States still depended on hemp products and oil. Since there was none being grown locally, they had to import it so they could avoid a shortage.

However, in 2004, there was a lawsuit against the Hemp Industries Association and the DEA. A court ruled in favor of being able to grow hemp, and this is when hemp started becoming legal again to grow.

In 2007, some farmers in North Dakota actually received a hemp license, and they were allowed to grow hemp. Then in 2014, Obama signed the Farm Bill, which would then allow pilot programs for growing hemp, but it still wasn’t supposed to be used commercially.

The 2018 Farming Bill

In 2018, the Farming Bill was introduced to the government of the United States, and it brought back the ability to grow hemp. The states still had to pass it for themselves, but now they had the option to.

Now, there are more states where it’s legal to grow it than states that aren’t. The only states that don’t allow you to grow hemp is Mississippi, South Dakota, and Idaho. Everywhere else in the United States, it’s allowed, although some of it’s only for research or pilot programs.

There is actually a big difference between being able to grow it only for research or for a pilot program rather than growing it commercially, so make sure you know what your state’s laws are in regards to that.


While it’s legal, there are a few stipulations that you need to know first.

In order for your hemp to be considered legal, you’ll need to get a license that says you can grow it. If you grow it without a license, you are breaking the law.

The hemp that you grow for industrial purposes also can only have .3% THC. If your hemp is over that, it will need to be destroyed.

Some Examples

Now that you know the history of the laws in growing hemp, you can look at the different states where it is legal.

By looking at these examples, you can learn more about growing the best hemp.


The Kentucky Department of Agriculture has launched the Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program and has been working with the hemp growers to make sure that their program works well.

The program first started in 2014, and there were only 33 acres when it first started. Now, there are about 6,700 acres. If you want to grow hemp in Kentucky, you’ll have to get a license in order to grow, process, and market it.


Colorado has a more lax program for growing hemp, but they are also eligible if approved by the United States Department of Agriculture through their Whole-Farm Revenue Protection program.

They also have about 20,000 acres of hemp that is being used to grow hemp. They actually also have the largest hemp processing plant in the United States.  Over the next few years, they expect it to become even larger.


Tennessee is also another example of a state where they really work to help hemp farmers. There are close to 3,000 hemp farmers in Tennessee as well that are licensed.

Their hemp program started as a pilot program, but now with recent laws being updated and changed, there are more relaxed rules around it.

West Virginia

West Virginia has been really making progress in growing hemp, and they’ve started getting into making industrial hemp. One of the main things that are helping the hemp industry is how well the legislation is working with them.

The government of West Virginia is actively working with people in the hemp industry so that they can make updates to the law to make sure that they can update the laws if needed.

The West Virginia Department of Agriculture gave them over one hundred and fifty licenses for the hemp program. These licenses cover about 2,500 acres total of the state.

Why was Marijuana Ever Made Illegal in the United States?

Many people assume that marijuana was made illegal through some kind of process involving scientific, medical, and government hearings; that it was to protect the citizens from what was determined to be a dangerous drug. The actual story shows a much different picture. Those who voted on the legal fate of this plant never had the facts but were dependent on information supplied by those who had a specific agenda to deceive lawmakers. You’ll see below that the very first federal vote to prohibit marijuana was based entirely on a documented lie on the floor of the Senate. You’ll also see that the history of marijuana’s criminalization is filled with:

  • Racism
  • Fear
  • Protection of Corporate Profits
  • Yellow Journalism
  • Ignorant, Incompetent, and/or Corrupt Legislators
  • Personal Career Advancement and Greed

These are the actual reasons marijuana is illegal.


For most of human history, marijuana has been completely legal. It’s not a recently discovered plant, nor is it a long-standing law. Marijuana has been illegal for less than 1% of the time that it’s been in use. Its known uses go back further than 7,000 B.C. and it was legal as recently as when Ronald Reagan was a boy. The marijuana (hemp) plant, of course, has an incredible number of uses. The earliest known woven fabric was apparently of hemp, and over the centuries the plant was used for food, incense, cloth, rope, and much more. This adds to some of the confusion over its introduction in the United States, as the plant was well known from the early 1600′s, but did not reach public awareness as a recreational drug until the early 1900′s. America’s first marijuana law was enacted at Jamestown Colony, Virginia in 1619. It was a law “ordering” all farmers to grow Indian hempseed. There were several other “must grow” laws over the next 200 years (you could be jailed for not growing hemp during times of shortage in Virginia between 1763 and 1767), and during most of that time, hemp was legal tender (you could even pay your taxes with hemp — try that today!) Hemp was such a critical crop for a number of purposes (including essential war requirements – rope, etc.) that the government went out of its way to encourage growth. The United States Census of 1850 counted 8,327 hemp “plantations” (minimum 2,000-acre farm) growing cannabis hemp for cloth, canvas and even the cordage used for baling cotton.

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Is it Legal to Grow Hemp in All 50 States?

These are only a few things to know about: “Is it legal to grow hemp?” The short answer really depends on what state you’re in.

Before you start growing legal hemp, make sure that you research all of the laws in your city and state so that you don’t end up facing any unexpected fees or penalties.

States Where Marijuana is Legal

Laws may change and this information may not be up to date. Please check with your state and local city laws to verify and information shown here.

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