Hemp has been illegal in the United States since 1937. But this changed on Thursday, after President Donald Trump signed the Farm Bill, legalizing industrial hemp in the U.S. once again.
The bid for hemp’s recent legalization began when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pushed for hemp to be freely available to all Americans as part of the 2018 Farm Bill.
The goal was to reinvigorate the plant’s farming opportunities from state pilot programs to a nationwide scale by removing hemp from the Controlled Substances Act and treating it like an agricultural product.
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Upon signing the bill Thursday, Trump called it his “great honor to sign the 2018 Farm Bill, a very special and important piece of legislation.” He added, “It opens new markets for agriculture all over the world.”
Cannachronicle.com reports: Let’s bring you up to speed, hemp is defined in the legislation as the cannabis plant (yes, the same one that produces marijuana) with one key difference: hemp cannot contain more than 0.3 percent of THC (the compound in the plant most commonly associated with getting a person high).
Basically, hemp can’t get you high. For decades, federal law did not differentiate hemp from other cannabis plants, all of which were effectively made illegal in 1937 under the Marihuana Tax Stamp Act and formally made illegal in 1970 under the Controlled Substances Act—the latter banned cannabis of any kind.
It’s true that hemp policy in the United States has been drastically transformed by this new legislation. However, there remain some misconceptions about what, exactly, this policy change does.
The 807-page document is nearly half a foot tall. Hemp is discussed in only a handful of pages. But the impact on the industry is monumental:
What will the new law do?
- Redefines Hemp to include its “extracts, cannabinoids and derivatives,” Congress explicitly has removed popular hemp products — such as hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) — from the purview of the CSA. Accordingly, the Drug Enforcement Administration no longer has any possible claim to interfere with the interstate commerce of hemp products. This should give comfort to federally regulated institutions — banks, merchant services, credit card companies, e-commerce sites and advertising platforms — to conduct commerce with the hemp and hemp product industry.
- Hemp farmers now may finally access needed crop insurance and can fully participate in USDA programs for certification and competitive grants.
- State and local governments may impose separate restrictions or requirements on hemp growth and the sale of hemp products – however, they cannot interfere with the interstate transport of hemp or hemp products. We are hopeful that local and state officials will follow Congress’ lead, as well as the statements and resolutions of the World Health Organization and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that declare, after intense scientific scrutiny, that CBD is safe, non-toxic, and non-addictive.
- The FDA continues to exercise jurisdiction over the regulation of ingestible and topical hemp products. We applaud the agency’s continued efforts to crack down on bad actors who undermine the industry through misguided marketing claims. And while we are concerned about non-binding statements made by the FDA that have led some state and local officials to question the legality of the retail sale of hemp-derived CBD, we are hopeful that we can work with the agency to clarify that CBD – which their own scientists concluded has no abuse potential and does not pose a risk to public health – should not be withheld from Americans who count on it for their health and wellness.
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