This post excerpt is courtesy of Cape Law Firm PLC, one of our lifetime partners. It originally appeared on their website on January 22, 2020.
The 2018 Farm Bill provides Producers a lawful pathway to grow cannabis – specifically, hemp-type cannabis – under Federal and State law. It also established boundaries separating legal hemp production from illegal marijuana production (which is still a crime under Federal law). The legal boundary is primarily defined by the Producer’s mental state, also known as mens rea (criminal intent or guilty mind). As long as the grower is no more than negligent in their efforts to produce a legal hemp crop, they will not be subject to criminal prosecution.
Criminal Intent – Mental States
Most crimes are defined according to a mental state, which is often “purposely” or “knowingly.” By defining crimes with a mental state, society’s criminal justice system can distinguish between someone that set out to commit a crime (deserving punishment) from someone that meant no harm. For example, if someone throws a stick at another person’s head, hitting them and causing them physical injury, the thrower is likely guilty of a criminal battery. But if the stick was thrown over a privacy fence and hits someone on the other side which the thrower never saw, the thrower probably hasn’t committed a crime. In that scenario, the thrower didn’t have criminal intent to injure the other person (although they may be civilly liable).