We are currently seeing a bill that has the potential to completely change the landscape of industrial hemp and CBD in the United States make its way through the legal system and on its way to becoming law.
Mitch McConnell, the Republican majority leader in the Senate, pushes for outright legalization of the plant in the 2018 Farm Bill. Making this bill a law would fully legalize hemp and all products made from the plant (CBD included) in the United States while removing restrictions on banking, water rights, and other regulatory obstacles the hemp industry has faced for years.
Great to finally see real support and a push to reform a legal view on a product that has been used throughout history and shown to have to many industrial applications along with beneficial health properties associated with it.
Brief History of Hemp
For more information on the history of hemp and its uses, check out our articles [The Cannabis Conundrum & CBD in Depth]
Let’s remember that Hemp is not a new form of agriculture by any means; It has been used for thousands of years as a crop harvested for its high-protein seeds and oil, while its fibers were used to create rope and clothing amongst many other industrial products. It even played an integral role throughout America’s history, as it was widely planted and cultivated across the country from colonial times up until WWII. Hemp’s use as a fiber crop was first shaken up in 1937 when the federal government passed the Marijuana Tax Act (aimed at regulating the narcotic varieties of cannabis) and completely banned with the schedule I classification by Richard Nixon in 1970. Up until that point, however, there were a few hundred years where hemp was a mainstay in America’s agricultural industry.
And those days may soon be here again! The goal of these bills are to legally define and separate CBD from their psychoactive chemical-cousin THC, giving hemp and CBD a chance to have its potential benefits in agriculture and medicine understood amongst a population that has grouped it together with marijuana and THC since the 70’s. But what does the new Hemp Farming Act of 2018 introduce that wasn’t made apparent before? This is what we are here to shine some light on.
Building on Past Bills and Partial Legalization
A few bills preceding this one-namely the 2014 Farm Bill and the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015- created a regulated, national agricultural hemp pilot program under which states could create their own pilot program regulations as long as they followed certain regulations and guidelines. The U.S. grew about 25,000 acres of hemp under these state programs, mostly in Colorado, Kentucky and Oregon. However, these bills created ongoing tension between federal and state authorities over state hemp policies due to non-cooperation of the DEA, leading to legal threats and lawsuits filed against the DEA from both farmers and states alike.
New Provisions in the Hemp Farming Act of 2018
The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 contains provisions to:
- Legalize the cultivation, processing and sale of industrial hemp by removing it from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act and allowing it to be regulated as an industrial crop across the United States. This also means that all products made from hemp, including CBD oil, would be legalized as well as long as it contains less than 0.3 percent THC on a dry weight basis.
- Place federal regulatory authority of hemp with the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) instead of with the DEA.
- Authorize crop insurance for the plant, reducing the amount of risk placed on farmers and giving them a bigger incentive to plant and grow hemp.
- Expand federally legal commercial hemp cultivation to tribal lands, reservations and U.S. territories- lands that had previously been omitted in Sec. 7606 of the Farm Bill.
This is definitely legislation to keep an eye on as it will have huge implications on the CBD and hemp industry here in the U.S. – more information to come soon!
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