Hemp, “Ditch Weed” Just as Illegal as Pot, Without the High

If you grew up in the Midwest or anywhere somewhat rural, there’s a good chance that you’ve ran across a hemp plant. If you were young, you may have even thought of drying it out and smoking it. But if you were brave enough to cut the weed and do just that, it wouldn’t have had the intended results. If anything, you probably got a headache.

Hemp, which easily grows in the wild and is related to the marijuana you smoke, won’t get you high. It could, however, still get you a criminal charge.

State laws don’t differentiate between types of cannabis or the concentration within them. You aren’t charged with a more serious crime for more potent pot. And you aren’t saved prosecution when the pot you have doesn’t get you high at all.

As this article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune points out, the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in a plant determines how high you get, but not whether or not you are accused of a crime.

It’s not unusual to find hemp growing in fields or to pop up in the occasional garden. Hemp seeds can reportedly lay dormant for years. And although the leaves and buds look just like the ones you smoke, these won’t deliver any sort of good vibes.

Hemp is what can be used in clothing and fiber. Interestingly, the first law related to marijuana in the United States was referred to as a “must grow” law. If you were a farmer in 1619, you were required by law to grow hemp. Our money was printed on it until the early 1800s. No laws were made against any strain of cannabis until 1937.

jackie chan wonders why hemp is illegal

Why is hemp illegal again?


This wild-growing hemp that you find in fields and rural areas today, when not cultivated to produce highs, is the age-old stuff that would make great rope, clothing, and paper.

But despite its inability to get you high, it can land you behind bars. Dry it and bag it, and you are asking for an arrest.

“But, it’s just ditch weed, officer. It doesn’t even get me high!”

It doesn’t matter. It’s cannabis and it’s against the law.

If you are accused of a marijuana offense, whether you were getting high or driving with someone who planned on it, we may be able to help. Call today to speak with a local criminal defense lawyer near you. 

About David Matson

David writes about criminal justice issues.
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