2018 Farm Bill: Opportunities in Hemp

“After a lengthy process through Congress, the President signed into law The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (the 2018 Farm Bill) on Dec. 20, 2018. The bill replaces the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2014, which expired Sept. 30, 2018. Distributing more than $850 billion, the 2018 Farm Bill is an enormous piece of legislation that funds programs such as crop insurance, school lunches and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), aka food stamps.

Integrated into the Farm Bill is the bipartisan-supported Hemp Farming Act of 2018. The act’s inclusion is significant: industrial hemp and its derived products now are legal on a federal level, and states may choose how to move forward in this exciting new industry.

Spearheaded by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), The Hemp Farming Act federally legalizes the production of industrial hemp (defined as Cannabis sativa L. plants containing less than three-tenths of a percent of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)). The low concentration of THC makes hemp unsuitable for marijuana production, which remains federally illegal.

Brief Historical Overview

Prior to the 2018 Farm Bill, federal law regarding industrial hemp was a patchwork of statutes, regulations and court decisions that allowed for the importation of certain hemp products, but not for the domestic production of the crop.

The Controlled Substances Act (CSA), 21 U.S.C. § 802(16), generally defines “marihuana” as every part of the plant Cannabis sativa L.—except for mature stalks, ungerminated seeds and products made therefrom—and labels it Schedule I, a category for substances with no possible medical use. LSD, heroin and MDMA are examples of other Schedule I narcotics.

THC itself is also deemed a Schedule I substance, prompting the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in 2003 to use its authority to regulate substances under the CSA to ban all parts and products of the Cannabis sativa L. plant, because THC is impossible to fully remove from those products. Consequently, litigation was filed to enjoin the DEA’s new rules, and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held in Hemp Industries Association v. Drug Enforcement Administration, 375 F.3d 1012 (9th Cir. 2004), that banning products with THC in non-psychoactive amounts was outside the DEA’s authority. This ruling created the pre-2018 Farm Bill system allowing importation of certain hemp products but barring farming hemp in the U.S.”

Read the full article:https://www.cannabisbusinesstimes.com/article/2018-farm-bill-opportunities-in-hemp/

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