Farm Bill 2018: Hemp Industry Celebrates Historical Moment
The moment is upon us. The 2018 Farm Bill has assumed its final form, the conference committee has signed off in approval via a hemp pen, it has gained the votes necessary to pass through the House of Representatives and the Senate and it has been officially signed into law by President Donald J. Trump. Even though only a fraction of the 2018 Farm Bill pertains to hemp, the few discussions of hemp sprinkled in no doubt mark a historical point in the timeline of the industry.
In 2018, we have witnessed the end of hemp prohibition. Hemp--forever differentiated from marijuana and officially defined as all parts of Cannabis sativa L. less than 0.3% THC, including derivatives, extracts and cannabinoids--is effectively and resolutely removed from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). This is a major win for the hemp industry and one step toward progress for hemp-derived cannabinoid-based products. Today, our beloved plant has assumed its rightful status as an agricultural commodity, protected from any interference by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and free and clear for interstate commerce. Let the hemp games begin!
Henceforth, hemp and popular hemp products, in no uncertain terms, will be freed from arbitrary limitation due to a loose association with marijuana. Farmers will now be able to pursue crop insurance, apply for certifications and have access to grant funds. Hemp companies will no longer be held back from federally regulated services such as banking, e-commerce, merchant and processing services. The American people can now cultivate the plant in their individual states, pursuant to USDA approval, without fear of debilitating enforcement actions. We can now advertise our hemp-based services and products without superfluous risk assessment and we can lead the charge on the international stage toward global acceptance of hemp and hemp products.
Although hemp is now considered legal, it is important to keep a few crucial points in mind as consumers, producers and manufacturers. Firstly, the language in the Farm Bill determines that while state and tribal governments may not interfere with interstate transport of hemp and hemp products, they may exercise their rights in imposing distinct requirements and restrictions for hemp cultivation and the sale of hemp products. Secondly, those with felony convictions in the past 10 years are exempt from participating in the new hemp programs unless they were currently working in the industry as of the moment the Farm Bill was passed. Lastly, the Farm Bill will not remove ingestible and topical hemp products from the authority of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This means that although Congress now recognizes that hemp and hemp products as legal, whether cannabidiol (CBD) particularly is to be considered a suitable dietary ingredient has yet to be determined.
Some issues have yet to be ironed out and the fight for the accessibility of CBD products is still ahead of us. Although the pathway ahead is uncharted, many in the industry are hopeful that evidence will mount which clarify CBD products as non-addictive and not posing public health risk. Until then, we can relish in the fact that the United States of America has taken a huge step in the right direction.