Right until 2014, it was still illegal to grow hemp in the US. This is because it was still classified as a Controlled Substance due to its cannabis genus. Well, hemp is related to the legally infamous marijuana plant that normally produces the psychoactive high feeling.
Take note that since the 1937 Marijuana Act, the cannabis plant was made illegal federally. This means that if you were found in possession of a product like hemp, then you could face serious legal changes. However, research studies offered a completely new overview of hemp.
While hemp is related to the cannabis plant, it’s nonpsychoactive. This means that it doesn’t alter the way the mind functions by creating a euphoric high effect. Besides that, several reports indicated that it had a wide range of health benefits. These factors made a lot of people champion the legalization of hemp products. With the passing of the New Farm Bill in 2018, hemp was made legal at the federal level.
About the New 2018 Farm Bill
On 12th December 2018, the US Congress passed the 2018 Farm Bill. It was signed into law the following week. This Bill defines hemp as a Cannabis sativa plant and also any part of the plant with a THC concentration of less than 0.3% by dry weight. Take note that this definition is in line with the 2014 Bill definition of Industrial hemp. This new bill also removes hemp from the list of Controlled Substances. As a result, it makes this plant wholly legible for cultivation, distribution, sale, and possession.
History of the Farm Bill
Before the passing of the new Farm Bill in 2018, there was the 2014 Farm Bill. Its passing coincided with the increasing use of cannabis products for medical purposes. At this time, the state of Kentucky was the first one to push for legislation on the cultivation of hemp. It made a passage in 2013 for Senate Bill 50.
This was what was used as the main framework for the cultivation of hemp in the US. As a result, Kentucky became the willing guinea pig that made it possible to pass the 2014 Farm Bill. It should be noted that under this bill, farmers could legally cultivate hemp by adhering to these two conditions:
- For scientific research or educational purposes
- Your cultivation proposal has been approved by the state’s pilot program. This proposal should have been modeled under the KY framework.
Note: Even with the passing of the 2014 Farm Bill, hemp was still a heavily regulated plant by the Justice Department.
What the New Farm Bill Means to Farmers
Even before the passing of the 2014 Farm Bill, most of the hemp products in the US came from China. At this time, Asian countries had more than 70% control of hemp marketing. However, with the impending trade war between China and the west, it was crucial for the hemp farmers to quickly make a suitable move.
That’s why the prohibition of hemp farming was lifted. This made it possible for farmers to grow hemp as a sustainable cash crop. The new 2018 Farm Bill has made things better for farmers. They can now buy crop insurance for their plants. The best thing about this insurance is that it also covers those crops that failed to survive until harvesting time.
This Farm Insurance acts like home insurance. It protects the farmer’s plants in times of natural disasters as well as harsh weather. Farmers are also eligible to ensure acres of their farms since hemp is now a plant that’s overseen by the US’s Department of Agriculture.
What the New Farm Bill Means to CBD Companies
Hemp CBD manufacturers and distributors have more freedom to sell and access resources. It should be noted that in 2017 alone, the number of retail sales from hemp products in the U.S hit $820 million. This includes supplements, food and beverages, household items, and personal care products.
After the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill and the legalization of hemp-based products federally, retail sales reached $1 billion. This made the hemp industry a billion-dollar industry in 2020. Research studies indicate that with the hemp industry rapidly expanding, then this market is projected to reach the highs of over 20 billion by $2022. But this figure is dependent on regulatory variables.
But hemp companies should relax. The passing of the 2018 Farm Bill still doesn’t remove all the barriers that come with the product of hemp-based CBD products. The FDA still maintains that it has authority over cannabis products. This administration has also raised concerns regarding the selling of CBD products that are marketed with healing benefits even though they have not been approved by this governing body.
What the New Farm Bill Means to Consumers
Do you use hemp-derived products such as CBD? Well, the new Farm Bill makes things easier for you. You need to understand that previously, hemp products mainly came from China. Evidence suggests that most farmers in China use hemp to absorb heavy metals from the surrounding land environment. This is possible since hemp is a bio-accumulator.
However, this meant that consumers were using toxic hemp substances with serious side effects. The presence of heavy metals in these plants usually leads to chemical reactions. Consequentially, this interferes with the plant’s genetic makeup. The safety and potency of the hemp plant, in turn, downgrade and lose value.
The combination of these heavy metals, a changed genetic makeup, plus high oxidative stress during handling results in a low-quality product. By the time the consumer has access to such a product, then the safety and effectiveness of the hemp product would be quite low.
This new Farm Bill has certainly eliminated all. For starters, industrial hemp is only cultivated by certified farmers in the US. Besides that, verified hemp farms use organic farming practices to avoid contaminating the hemp plants. Lastly, since the plants are sourced domestically, there is a significantly low level of handling. So, in the end, consumers get high-quality, safe, and effective hemp products for wellness.
Hemp Research Remains Important
One of the primary goals of the 2014 Farm Bill was to protect hemp research. Well, this new Farm Bill also continues with the same effort. It protects hemp research by including this plant under the Critical Agricultural Materials Act. Noe that this provision is meant to recognize the benefits, diversity, as well as the opportunity that hemp plants and related products offer. However, there are still challenges that this bill doesn’t erase.
Challenges the New Farm Bill
The new 2018 Farm Bill is a huge step towards the legalization of hemp products. However, it doesn’t eliminate all the barriers that come with the production, sale, and use of CBD hemp products.
It should be noted that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) still maintains that it has authority to regulate the use or production of cannabis and cannabis-derived products, under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. According to FDA, products with cannabis content will still be treated like others that are regulated by this administration.
Besides that, the FDA also cautions against the marketing of hemp-derived products with CBD and THC content as dietary supplements. It considers this unlawful since these two ingredients contain active elements that can be subject to clinical investigations if they come from the marijuana plant.
Lastly, hemp farmers, distributors, manufacturers, sellers, and users have to comply with different state laws, depending on their location. It should be noted that some states have incorporated federal laws regarding hemp regulations. However, there are still a few states that are yet to implement this new Farm Bill. As a result, owning a hemp product could result in legal charges.
What Should Businesses Do in the Hemp Industry?
Due to the lack of a regulatory body, businesses need to take it upon themselves and do comprehensive research based on the New Farm Bill. Depending on your location/state, here is what you need to do:
- Understand your state’s laws regarding the cultivation or manufacturing of hemp products
- If hemp products are legal, what type of products can you sell?
- What type of licenses do you need as a retailer?
The Bottom Line
The new Farm Bill continues to open more doors in the Hemp Industry. Hemp is one of the plants that come from the cannabis family. Its use over the years has always been in question legally. However, you can now use hemp products in the US without a prescription, as long as they contain less than 0.3%. The passing of the 2018 Farm Bill made hemp and its products legal federally.
With this bill, the use of hemp products has grown at an explosive rate. This has made the hemp market a billion-dollar industry. Even though there are still minor setbacks, farmers, manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and consumers can now cultivate and access CBD products more than before.