Hemp Legalization Is In The Final Farm Bill

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The 2018 Farm Bill will include a provision to legalize industrial hemp, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and the top Republican and Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee confirmed on Thursday.

Lawmakers in the Senate and House Agriculture Committees announced that they’d reached an agreement in principle on the large-scale food and agriculture policy legislation and were in the process of finalizing “legal and report language.” But while there’s still “more work to do,” it seems that hemp legalization made the cut.

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The Congressional Budget Office is currently scoring the bill. Once that’s complete and language is officially filed, the Farm Bill will be teed up for up-or-down votes in both chambers of Congress and, pending approval, sent to the president’s desk. Lawmakers are hoping to pass the bill before the end of the year.

Hemp would be defined as all parts of the plant—including seeds and extracts—as long as they contain less than 0.3 percent THC, according to VoteHemp.The crop would also be entirely removed from the Controlled Substances Act under the legislation.

States that want to be primary regulators are required to submit applications outlining their regulatory plan to the USDA, which will have 60 days to make a decision.

When Congress passed the Farm Bill of 2014, it included Sec. 7606 authorizing state regulated research pilot programs with hemp. That program has been a huge success growing to include over 3,500 licensed participants who planted more than 77,000 acres in 2018. At the same time, the U.S. market for hemp products has grown to more than $800 million as of 2017. However, hemp pilot program regulations are burdensome and are made even more challenging by heavy handed Drug Enforcement Administration oversight. Vote Hemp, along with thousands of businesses and advocates, have been pushing for commercial hemp farming legislation and removal of roadblocks to the growth of the U.S. hemp industry.

Congress has been negotiating a new Farm Bill and is once again considering federal policy regarding hemp thanks to leadership from Senator McConnell (R-KY) and Senator Wyden (D-OR). The House and Senate each passed their versions of the bill and the Senate version included language from the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 that removes hemp from the Controlled Substances Act and allows farmers to grow hemp commercially under a state or federal license.

What will the new Farm Bill hemp law do?

If the Farm Bill is signed into law before the end of 2018, it will go into effect beginning on January 1, 2019. However, it will take time for the new law to be implemented. In states where hemp is legal, state departments of agriculture will need to submit regulatory plans to USDA for approval.

There are a few minimum requirements that a state plan must have:


What about hemp extracts containing CBD?
The Farm Bill removes hemp completely from the CSA. It makes is 100% clear that cannabinoids are included so hemp derived CBD will not be a controlled substance. The bill does not change requirements of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act so producers are still subject to FDA regulations. The FDA has stated in an FAQ that it is their current opinion that CBD may not be sold as a dietary supplement but they have not said that whole plant hemp extracts are covered. Their logic is that a previous application for the drug Epidiolex prohibits the sale of the same substance as a dietary supplement. But Epidiolex is pure CBD and is not the same as a whole plant hemp extract. The industry does not agree with FDAs stance on CBD and there will likely be further developments on this.


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