The Senate and House just passed an $867 billion farm bill. Here’s why that’s great news for the hemp industry.
The farm bill legalizes the production of industrial hemp for the first time in 100 years. The Hemp Farming Act includes language to amend the current list of Schedule 1 controlled substances—moving hemp off the list. The act also removes federal regulations that prevent farmers from growing and selling hemp. It now defines hemp as a regular agricultural crop. It’s good news for farmers who can now buy federally-subsidized crop insurance to protect their hemp crops and great news for hemp and CBD consumers.
The new language differentiates between hemp and marijuana. The bill also moves hemp from its current home under the jurisdiction of the Justice Department to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Bi-Partisan Support for Farm Bill 2018
Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was behind the push for hemp’s inclusion in the bill. Kentucky is home to some of the largest and most profitable hemp producers. McConnell joked on the Senate floor that President Donald Trump could borrow his hemp pen to sign the 2018 Farm Bill when it’s sent to his desk.
McConnell tweeted, “The Senate took a major step yesterday by passing the Farm Bill, which will deliver a big shot in the arm to farmers and rural communities. I’m especially proud it will open a new door for industrial #hemp farmers in #Kentucky and around the country.” McConnell has argued that the hemp industry creates jobs, contributes to economic growth, and hemp is already growing well in American soil.”
It was a bi-partisan effort. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) said in a press release,
“Our forefathers would be rolling in their graves if they saw us putting restraints on a versatile product that they grew themselves. We have farmers growing thousands of acres of hemp in dozens of states across the U.S. already. You can have hemp products shipped to your doorstep. This is a mainstream, billion-dollar industry that we have made difficult for farmers. It’s past time Congress gets out of their way.”
This is excellent news for CBD and hemp companies who have operated in a gray area the last few years as CBD’s use has been on the rise while the DEA and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions argued it was a controlled substance. But, it’s not a free-for-all. John Hudak, a senior fellow at Brookings Institution and author of Marijuana: A Short History, told The Verge, “There are likely to be more CBD products now, but that still doesn’t mean that everyone can just grow hemp in their backyard. Farmers will no longer need DEA approval, but there will still be significant federal and state restrictions on hemp products, and growers will need to be licensed and fulfill other requirements developed by the US Department of Agriculture.”
Farm Bill 2018 Next Steps
The bill passed with an overwhelming 87-13 vote in the Senate. The House vote was another shut out at 369 to 47. President Trump will still need to sign it into law…perhaps with McConnell’s hemp pen.