Thursday afternoon, President Donald J. Trump signed the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018. The massive piece of legislation, known colloquially as the “Farm Bill,” is the primary agriculture and food policy tool of the federal government. The Farm Bill deals with trade, rural development, farm subsidies, conservation, research, food and nutrition programs and more. This year, the Farm Bill’s major changes address the federal food aid program SNAP, forestry and conservation, crop insurance and measures aimed to help farmers hurting from Trump’s trade war with China.
But this year’s Farm Bill also includes far-reaching provisions that lift the ban on hemp, authorize hemp production and research and amend the Controlled Substances Act. Congress voted to send the bill to Trump’s desk on December 12. And during a Dec. 20 press conference that opened with Trump thanking lawmakers before launching into a 15-minute racist diatribe about the border, the President signed H.R. 2 into law.
Trump Signs the Farm Bill of 2018, Legalizing Hemp and All Hemp Derivatives
For the U.S. hemp industry, the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill into law is a watershed moment. Since 2014, America’s hemp farmers have had the green light to produce industrial hemp. That’s because 2014’s Farm Bill included provisions allowing states to research hemp and set up cultivation programs without requiring federal approval. Today, most U.S. states have such programs.
But the 2018 Farm Bill goes further, making changes to federal law and, for the first time since 1970, amending the Controlled Substances Act. The full text of H.R. 2 spells out the details of the federal policy changes impacting industrial and commercial hemp. Here’s a breakdown.
The Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018
- authorizes hemp as a supplemental and alternative crop, which gives farmers access to subsidies and crop insurance for hemp.
- allows federal agencies like the FDA to assess the economic viability of hemp production and sale.
- authorizes federal research into hemp cultivation and production.
- permits the interstate commerce of hemp, which also means hemp CBD consumers can now travel freely with their products
- amends the Controlled Substances Act to exempt hemp from the list of Schedule I drugs.
2018 Farm Bill Signing Paves Way for Hemp CBD Industry
The 2018 Farm Bill’s amending of the CSA represents a major change to federal drug policy. The bill not only exempts hemp, but all of its components and derivatives. That includes seeds, extracts, acids, salts isomers and of course, cannabinoids. As long as no component of hemp contains more than 0.3 percent THC, the CSA’s prohibition on cannabis does not apply.
Federal approval not just of industrial hemp but of its many products, including hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) stands to catalyze the already surging CBD market. State-legal programs have long-authorized the sale of hemp products. But hazy federal guidelines led law enforcement agencies in several states to pursue actions against CBD retailers and customers. Now that Trump has signed the Farm Bill, customers and retailers should no longer have to fear the possibility of enforcement actions for possession hemp CBD products.
Additionally, the opening of new avenues of research should lead to federally regulated hemp products. Today, the hemp-derived CBD market is largely unregulated, leading to inconsistencies in product quality across the market. But CBD isn’t the only valuable cannabinoid hemp plants produce. Hemp plants also produce CBDV, CBN, CBG and other rare cannabinoids with immense therapeutic potential.