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Title page of the Law Library’s report “Regulation of Hemp.”

New Report from the Law Library of Congress On The Regulation of Hemp Around the World

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The following is a guest post by Tariq Ahmad, foreign law specialist in the Global Legal Research Directorate of the Law Library of Congress. Tariq has previously contributed posts on Islamic Law in Pakistan – Global Legal Collection Highlights, the Law Library’s 2013 Panel Discussion on Islamic LawSedition Law in India, and FALQ posts on Proposals to Reform Pakistan’s Blasphemy Laws, Article 370 and the Removal of Jammu and Kashmir’s Special Status, and The Controversy Over Marriage and Anti-Conversion Laws in India.

Demand and production of hemp are growing worldwide and are forecast to show significant growth in the next decade. Hemp is a variety of Cannabis sativa that contains small amounts of psychoactive content tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and is used for industrial and medicinal use. The 2018 Farm Bill changed U.S. federal policy with respect to hemp, removing hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, and authorizing the “production of hemp” and “the consideration of hemp as an agricultural product.” Providing a comparative perspective, the Law Library of Congress has recently published its report, Regulation of Hemp, which explores the regulation of industrial hemp in select jurisdictions around the globe, namely, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Ecuador, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, the Slovak Republic, the United Kingdom (UK), and the European Union (EU).  The report covers when cultivation/production of hemp was legalized, how hemp is defined (in terms of allowable delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) level), under what restrictions/circumstances (if any) hemp can be cultivated/produced, and some of the licensing and registration requirements. The report also discusses testing and sampling requirements that farmers are required to observe. In addition, the report briefly reviews rules for the processing/manufacturing of hemp and hemp-containing products. In an appendix to the report, we have included a table of countries that have legalized hemp production. The comparative summary of our report notes that:

In the select jurisdictions, all jurisdictions appear to allow cultivation of hemp (or cannabis more widely) for very controlled and restricted purposes (including medical, scientific, industrial, and/or horticultural purposes). In the select jurisdictions we reviewed, cultivation of hemp for restricted purposes was legalized in Japan in 1947, the UK in 1993, Canada in 1998, New Zealand in 2006, Russia in 2007, Australia and Italy in 2016, Israel in 2019, Ecuador in 2020, and Colombia in 2022. India allows states to permit and regulate the cultivation of hemp. Uttarakhand was the first state to do so, in 2016. Australia in 2016 enacted federal amending legislation allowing for the cultivation of cannabis for medicinal or scientific purposes. The cultivation of industrial hemp is regulated by each of Australia’s states and territories, with Tasmania being the first state to allow it in 1995. Similarly, only two provinces in China have allowed industrial hemp; Yunnan province was the first to do so, in 2010. The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy includes a common system of aid for farmers of flax and true hemp (Cannabis sativa), which was established in 1970.

Title page of the Law Library of Congress's "Regulation of Hemp" report published in November 2022
Title page of the Law Library’s report “Regulation of Hemp.”

This report is an addition to the Law Library’s Legal Reports (Publications of the Law Library of Congress) collection, which includes over 3,000 historical and contemporary legal reports covering a variety of jurisdictions, researched and written by foreign law specialists with expertise in each area.

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