Until recently, hemp has been subject to a 100-year prohibition and lumped in the same category as all other narcotics, including marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and amphetamines.
Yes – until now, hemp, according to the federal government, has been considered as the same plant as marijuana despite their botanical differences. Donald Trump’s signing of the 2018 Farm Bill has changed that, finally distinguishing hemp from marijuana and allowing for the legal cultivation of hemp.
The advent of the 2018 Farm Bill means that there will be more freedom in the distribution and circulation of hemp-derived products. For the most part, the required hemp for creating CBD and other hemp-derived products has come from Europe.
The 2018 Farm Bill will open up an opportunity for farmers and cultivators to begin producing hemp for a wide variety of industrial reasons.
Why Is The 2018 Farm Bill Important For Hemp?
The 2018 Farm Bill outlines many different agricultural and nutritional policies that affect a wide variety of plants, but the important change for the cannabis industry is how this bill affects hemp. The Farm Bill will allow for the distribution of licenses to grow hemp, which will protect farmers in the industry and allow them crop insurance.
Arguably, the most important change that the policy outlines is in how hemp is defined by the federal government. Since the 1970 Controlled Substance Act, marijuana and hemp have both fallen under the same category, namely cannabis.
The fact that they have different agricultural uses, different applications, and different botanical attributes has not mattered in the eyes of the federal government. Finally, The Farm Bill puts hemp in its own category, as a non-psychoactive cannabis variety that must contain less than 0.3 percent THC.
It is distinguished from its psychoactive counterpart, marijuana, which usually contains much higher levels of THC and gets a person high.
Hemp Research Is Still Important
Back in 2014, amendments were made to the Farm Bill with the aim of protecting hemp as a plant for research and generating more opportunities for research. In the 2018 Farm Bill, the provisions for hemp research are deepened even more.
Section 7605 protects hemp research and outlines certain conditions under which hemp should be researched. What’s more important is that hemp was included in the Critical Agricultural Materials Act. This recognizes and celebrates the diversity of hemp and the many industrial products that can be manufactured from hemp.
The amended provisions are designed to encourage further research into the ways that hemp might have medicinal value as well as the ways that hemp can be used industrially. The bill acknowledges hemp as an alternative and supplemental crop, permitting a wide variety of aspects to be researched.
Opening up the USA for hemp research insinuates something very important: we don’t really know that much about hemp and it would be extremely valuable for the USA and the rest of the world for us to make more scientific inquiry into this plant.
Senator Mitch McConnell, the longest-standing Republican senator acknowledges that marijuana aside, it is important to research hemp and the ways that it can assist industry, medicine, and engineering.
How Will The 2018 Farm Bill Affect Hemp Farmers?
To start with, hemp farmers will be treated in the exact same way as other farmers. That means that hemp will be treated like any other mainstream crop, and hemp farmers will be given the same privileges, benefits, and protection as other farmers. Most importantly, hemp farmers will be included in the Federal Crop Insurance Act.
For those who don’t know what that means, hemp farmers will be allowed to ensure their crops against damage and loss in the case of some agricultural accident, such as extreme weather.
These provisions will be important for the protection of hemp farmers. In the case that crops are lost and money is lost as a result, hemp farmers will be protected in the same manner as wheat or corn farmers.
Will All CBD Products Be Legal Now?
Unfortunately, the answer to this question is no. The Farm Bill 2018 distinguishes hemp from marijuana, and it allows for the cultivation of hemp to manufacture hemp-derived products. Essentially, it removes hemp from its Schedule I status.
However, according to the federal government, marijuana is still a Schedule I substance.
This means that any CBD product that is manufactured from marijuana is still illegal. So no – not all CBD products will be legal from now on. Only those CBD products that are derived from hemp will be legal.
Any cannabis plant that contains more than 0.3 percent THC is not considered to be hemp but rather is categorized as marijuana. So long as a hemp plant remains below this threshold, products can legally be manufactured from it and distributed around the USA.
But it’s important to realize that any CBD product derived from marijuana will remain illegal under federal law.
The FDA will still also have the final say about using CBD to manufacture cosmetic products, foodstuff or any kind of medicinal or herbal supplement. And by the way, their current standpoint is that it can’t be used in any of these products.
According to the FDA, a product that contains CBD or marijuana products can’t be used in interstate commerce. However, given the current changes, the FDA isn’t expected to interfere with CBD companies unless they are using marijuana or making misleading health claims about their products.
Will I Be Able To Buy CBD From Every State?
As the USA has clearly demonstrated, making a federal law does not force any of the states into compliance. Despite the 2018 Farm Bill, each state will still decide where it stands and how to behave with respect to hemp licensing and cultivation.
This means that if a state decides that hemp-derived CBD is disallowed from food and supplements, then that will be the case. It also means that laws will vary from state to state, so it’s always worth staying up to date on the laws where you live.
Every time a state wants to impose their own regulation, the USDA will have to sign off on that proposal. It’s likely that state laws will vary with respect to hemp law over the next few years, depending on how each state wants to implement hemp laws.
Will The State Legal Cannabis Programs Be Affected?
To be honest, the state legal cannabis programs won’t be affected per se. Cannabis has been illegal at a federal level for quite a long time and states have still implemented their state cannabis programs. It means that states will still be operating illegally by selling cannabis products, especially those that are derived from marijuana.
But this doesn’t necessarily affect states, as it was illegal before as it is now.
There is hope that the implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill opens up greater opportunities for advocacy to continue moving forward in the cannabis movement. But until federal laws change with respect to marijuana, state legal cannabis programs will not be affected.
What Does The 2018 Farm Bill Mean For The Future Of CBD?
The signing of the 2018 Farm Bill is like putting another brick on the road towards CBD legitimacy. It is just another step on the path. There is still much uncertainty about the future of CBD and how it will be integrated into society, but hemp’s legalization is definitely a step in the right direction.
After all, the Farm Bill means legal hemp, for both research and manufacturing, and this means we can learn more about CBD as well as manufacturing a big range of hemp products. This can increase public knowledge about the plant and how it can be used and it can make hemp products more available to a wider demographic.
According to Jessica Assaf, co-founder of Prima, the 2018 Farm Bill will “add an extra layer of clarification” to what we already know about CBD products and how to use them. This will be supported by research and by the farm bill itself, which encourages not only the cultivation of hemp but also side industries to support hemp.
These side industries include manufacturers, retailers etc.
Interestingly, fruit and vegetables are not included in federal farm subsidy legislation. This means that those who operate wineries, for example, are not eligible for subsidies. Under the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp farmers will be eligible.
Those who grow grapes or other fruits are exploring into the possibility of hemp infused wines and alcohols, giving them the opportunity to receive the subsidy for growing hemp. This is one of the many ways that CBD can make it into the future alongside other staple products and the possibilities that the Farm Bill opens up.
What Does The 2018 Farm Bill Mean For CBD Consumers?
For the most part, CBD consumers can look forward to better regulated, higher quality products that are more accessible than ever. Even though many states allow the sale of CBD products, the market has remained basically completely unregulated because of strict federal laws.
The 2018 Farm Bill encourages the FDA to participate in the regulation of hemp products, which in turn allows consumers access to a product that is consistent and meets certain industry standards.
Furthermore, consumers will no longer have to fear law enforcement simply for the use of a hemp-derived CBD product. With hemp legal at a federal level, there will be no enforcement for the purchase and sale of CBD products manufactured from hemp.
After 100 years of prohibition, this is a huge step and conceivably changes the way that Americans will work with and utilize hemp moving into the future.
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