On December 21, 2018, President Donald Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill legalizing hemp in the United States. Hemp is a variety of the Cannabis plant, but only contains extremely low levels of THC – the psychoactive inducing component known to get people high. With its low <0.3% THC content, the Farm Bill removes hemp from the list of federally controlled substances making hemp classified the same way as any other agricultural crop. This means that hemp will no longer be managed by the DEA. Instead, it will now be managed by the USDA.
The 2018 Farm Bill also removes CBD from the Controlled Substances Act, which helps define CBD's legal status. Prior to the Farm Bill, the legalities of shipping across state borders wasn't exactly clear. Now there are no restrictions on the sale, transport, or possession of products derived from hemp in accordance with the law.
This new change helps pave the way for a CBD industry expansion that could be worth billions of dollars over the next few years. Consumers will likely see more CBD and hemp products readily available to them both in stores and online. This is good news for those seeking relief of health-related issues like pain, anxiety, and seizures that CBD oil can help alleviate. (See the Benefits of CBD Oil to view some of the current studies that have been published.) With the new legal status of hemp and CBD, it’s safe to expect further studies on the efficacy of CBD and other Cannabinoids in health-related news.
Helping Hemp Farmers
The 2018 Farm Bill also helps hemp farmers financially. Prior to its signing, hemp farmers found it difficult to get insurance on their crops or write off farming business expenses, but with this new bill that’s about to change. The US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued the following statement:
“This is a great day for our farmers, ranchers, foresters, and producers, as President Trump’s signature on this bill is a Christmas present to American agriculture. Farmers take financial risks every year as a matter of doing business, so having a Farm Bill in place gives them peace of mind to make their decisions for the future.”
Legal But Still Regulated
Even though the 2018 Farm Bill made huge strides in the growing and cultivation of hemp, it’s important to know that the Farm Bill still has many restrictions in place. It does not create an entirely free system where anyone can grow hemp wherever they want. Growing hemp is still heavily regulated. For example, under section 10113, a state’s plan to regulate and license hemp can only begin once the Secretary of the USDA approves that state’s plan. Individual states can also ban hemp or CBD, even though it’s no longer classified as a controlled substance.
After the signing of this legislation, the entire Cannabis industry now has room to breathe. For businesses related to hemp, including banking and loans, commercial real estate, all the way to the intellectual property, barriers will be lifted, paving the way for the entire industry. With federal legislation, public sentiment towards the social acceptance of hemp, CBD, and marijuana will likely shift towards accepting cannabis like any other agricultural commodity. For proponents of hemp and its potential therapeutic and healing properties, this is fantastic news.