Trump Signs the 2018 Farm Bill
Hemp’s legal status is a bit hazy to say the least. Luckily, that’s all about to change.
On Tuesday, the senate approved the Farm Bill which will legalize hemp. Now, the legislation will move to the House of Representatives where it is expected to pass as well. After that, it goes to President Trump who spoke highly of the bill on Tuesday night at the White House.
Since 1970, The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has classified marijuana (cannabis) as a Schedule l drug through the Control Substance Act since 1970. This strangely enough, places cannabis along highly addictive drugs like heroin and LSD.
It took 44 years more for Congress to write the 2014 Farm Bill, which legally distinguished non-psychoactive industrial hemp from marijuana, yet the DEA continued to classify both as Schedule 1 drugs.
When a prisoner is released from jail they are typically put on probation. They are granted more freedom in comparison to prison, but they still aren’t completely free.
Essentially, that’s what happened with the 2014 Farm Bill.
So, what makes hemp and marijuana different?
Hemp and marijuana both come from the same plant family-- cannabis. However, despite their close relation, they interact with our brain receptors differently.
Marijuana contains high levels of Tetracannabinodol (THC) which binds to our receptors directly and creates the sense of euphoria or “high” that users seek and experience.
Industrial hemp is used for textiles, fuel, paper, animal feed and more. Legally, it also contains less than 0.3 percent THC,yet is high in other non-psychoactive cannabinoids, among them CBD (cannabidiol). This means it delivers many benefits without any psychoactive effects.
In other words, marijuana can get you high, but hemp won’t.
The 2014 Farm Bill showed promise for the future of industrial hemp, and most states legalized its use in one way or another. But still, on the federal level, it's use remained prohibited, causing great confusion among consumers and retailers. New revisions to the bill aim to end the confusion behind the legal status of industrial hemp.
The compromise bill aims to:
- Remove hemp from its relation to marijuana under the CSA
- Make hemp farmers eligible for federally subsidized crop insurance
- Make agricultural production of hemp legal nationwide
- Lift federal drug restrictions that delayed crop expansions
- Under the legislation, hemp would no longer be in the jurisdiction of the Justice Department. Rather, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will lightly regulate the crop.
Despite the confusion over hemp’s legal status, consumers still continue to buy hemp products. Until now, federal regulations have made it difficult for U.S. farmers to keep up with these growing demands which then forces consumers to buy products elsewhere.
What other problems persist under current legislation and guidelines? Well, in all this confusion some companies aren’t completely honest with their customers. They sell products without providing their third-party lab results or claim that their products contain more or less of ingredients, like CBD and THC respectively, then their product actually does. Providing this transparency is important to ensure that their products don’t contain traces of harmful pesticides or toxins.
The Farm Bill of 2018 legalizes hemp, which will lead to federal guidelines and regulations to ensure consumers are buying products that are actually safe and effective.
So, what is taking so long?
Congress passes a new Farm Bill once every five years and the 2014 Farm Bill expired on Sept. 30.
What happened when it expired?
Despite efforts to resolve differences in their farm bill drafts, the House and Senate failed to replace the original Agricultural Act of 2014 before it expired. Then, the House entered a recess until after the Nov. 6 midterm elections.
Without a new Farm Bill, critical programs are ended or their implementation is prevented. Many of these programs are called “orphan programs”. There are 39 reported orphan programs that lost authorization and funding on Oct. 1.
Some of these programs include:
- Conservational programs
- Energy programs
- Research programs
- Nutritional programs
- Rural Development programs
- Horticulture programs
- Trade programs
- Crop insurance programs
- Commodity programs
Then, the death of former president, George H.W. Bush resulted in a delay of the bill. In fact, the House and Senate both rescheduled times for voting to honor Bush.
The passage of the 2018 farm bill will go down in history as a huge advancement for hemp. After nearly 50 years of imprisonment on the schedule l list, hemp is finally almost free.