Around the world, federal governments are reintroducing, or consider reintroducing, hemp as a legalized agricultural crop. Compiled below is information regarding hemp and CBD legislation in Canada and the United States.

Laws & Regulations

Industrial Hemp Regulations

On March 12, 1998 the Canadian government started a program call the Industrial Hemp Regulation (IHR) Program. This program made it legal for Canadian farmers to grow low-THC cannabis (<0.3%) for industrial commercial purposes, with regulatory approvals including licenses, permits and authorizations from Health Canada.

Approved Cultivars

Health Canada maintains a list of cultivars approved to grow in Canada. In order to be included on the List of Approved Cultivars, a cultivar must be recognized by Health Canada as being distinct, uniform, stable, and contain less than 0.3% THC. Once recognized, the plant breeder can submit a request to the Office of Control Substances to include it on the list.  The list is published yearly and contains information on the varieties of industrial hemp that can be  commercially cultivated and testing requirements. Here is the 2019 List of Approved Cultivars. 

License Applications

License holders under the IHR are permitted to cultivate, import and export (with permits for each shipment), possess, process, distribute, sample and sell industrial hemp.

It is recommended that cultivators (farmers) apply for a license at least six (6) months prior to grow season to ensure adequate time for license processing. Applications must be submitted online on Health Canada's website, through the Cannabis Tracking & Licensing System (CTLS). All licenses have expiry dates and license holders must reapply to continue to conduct activities authorized by the license. A renewal application option will appear in the CTLS prior to expiration.

CBD Regulations

CBD and products containing CBD are legal (when sold by licensed sellers) and are regulated by the Cannabis Act. Manufacturing and extracting CBD from the flowers of a hemp plant requires a cannabis processing license.

Resource Links

For more information on Canadian legislation for the hemp industry, please visit the Health Canada's website.

United States of America

Industrial hemp in the United States is defined as cannabis with less than 0.3% THC. Industrial hemp was made federally legal in December 2018, after an 81 year ban. As of the end of 2019, all states except for DC, Mississippi, South Dakota and Idaho allow hemp to be cultivated for commercial, research or pilot programs.

Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill)

In June 2018, the Senate passed the farm bill, including provisions to legalize the cultivation, processing and sale of industrial hemp. The President of the United States signed this bill into law on December 20, 2018.

License Application

Similar to Canada, cultivators must be licensed or permitted by the state agency in order to grow industrial hemp. Licenses are valid for one (1)  to three (3) years before renewal is required. All states require GPS coordinates and a map of the cultivating land along with other supporting documentation for license applications.

CBD Laws & Regulations

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has stated cannabinoids not controlled by the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) are NOT illegal. A release by the DEA states:

"Products and materials that are made from the cannabis plant and which fall outside the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) definition of marijuana are not controlled under the CSA. Such products may accordingly be sold and otherwise distributed throughout the United States without restriction under the CSA or its implementing regulations. The mere presence of cannabinoids is not itself dispositive as to whether a substance is within the scope of the CSA;"

Hemp-Derived CBD

Under federal government regulation hemp-derived CBD extracted from licensed cultivators is legal in the United States. The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp and hemp-derived CBD, if it contains less than 0.3% THC. While hemp is federally legal, state governments must enact regulations for hemp-derived CBD to be legal at a state level.

CBD is currently illegal in Idaho, South Dakota, and Iowa. Hemp-derived CBD is legal in all other states with specific regulations, such as food restrictions.

Resource Links


Every attempt has been made to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information provided on this website. All information present on HempAlta is not intended to constitute or substitute for legal advice. Please consult state legal counsel to verify accuracy of information.

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