The 2018 Farm Bill compromise effectively ends hemp prohibition, making hemp and hemp-derived products federally legal for the first time in decades.
Hemp has played a highly versatile role as a crop throughout history. It can be processed into thousands of products like clothing, rope, paper, bioplastics, food, medicine, fuel—the list goes on (and on).
Our collective understanding of the value of hemp has deteriorated over the past century. The misinformed even think it’s just a plant that “gets you stoned.”
Why was hemp made illegal in the first place?
You’ll find plenty of speculation about the events that led to hemp prohibition.
Whether it was prohibited due to financial interests or the racist drug propaganda that earned cannabis the “marijuana” nickname (or both), industrial hemp fell into illegal territory alongside marijuana with the introduction of the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937.
Over decades, cannabis was demonized and industrial hemp became inaccessible.
All forms of cannabis were affected by strict prohibition and regulation. This was partially due to the difficulty in identifying the difference between hemp and marijuana.
Thankfully, the days of Reefer Madness are long behind us. More people are becoming educated on the industrial potential of hemp and the benefits of hemp-derived supplements.
The Resurrection of Hemp as a Cash Crop
The passing of the 2018 Farm Bill was a historic moment for the United States, especially where hemp cultivation and hemp-derived products are concerned.
Hemp is now considered an agricultural commodity and will no longer be mistaken as a controlled substance. The bill defines hemp as all parts of the plant with less than 0.3% THC, including derivatives, extracts, and cannabinoids.
The full potential of hemp as a cash crop can again be realized.
Hemp has been removed from the Controlled Substances Act and is reclassified for commercial applications. This allows hemp production in all states for any use (including CBD and other hemp-derived products). The transportation of hemp across state lines is now protected under federal law.
The bill also legalizes hemp production in US territories and Native American tribal land.
Hemp commerce is no longer enforced by the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) and will instead be overseen by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture). The USDA will be required to consult with the U.S. Attorney General on hemp rules.
It’s important to note that states will still have the option to submit plans for hemp regulation at a state level. That said, state regulation cannot interfere with interstate transportation of hemp products.
If a state doesn’t submit plans for state-level regulation, federal rules will apply by default.
So… can I grow hemp in my backyard now?
Hemp can only be grown on licensed hemp farms and cannot be grown in home gardens like tomatoes or squash. Maybe one day!
The 2018 Farm Bill does, however, benefit farmers in several ways.
Supporting Hemp Farmers
Now that the 2018 Farm Bill has been signed into law, hemp farmers will gain access to federally backed farm support programs.
Federal Crop Insurance Programs can now be utilized by hemp farmers to protect against the loss of crops due to natural disasters. This includes drought, freezes, floods, fire, insects, disease and wildlife, or loss of revenue due to a decline in price.
Additionally, hemp farmers can access low-interest loans for new farmers and can gain federal water access.
Hemp cultivators with plants exceeding 0.3% THC will no longer be guilty of a drug crime but will be required to submit a plan to correct the “hot hemp.”
It’s worth noting the 2018 Farm Bill places a 10-year ban from growing legal hemp on anyone convicted of a drug felony (starting on the date of conviction).
A decade is a long time, but an earlier version of the compromise would have banned anyone with a drug-related felony for life.
This restriction doesn’t apply to participants in 2014 Farm Bill pilot programs.
Enter The Hemp Renaissance
The shackles are off and hemp is entering an age of rebirth.
Because hemp derivatives, extracts, and cannabinoids are covered in the bill, we hope the controversy around hemp and hemp-derived CBD will eventually be replaced with a celebration of renewable resources and natural wellness.
CBD and other cannabinoids found in hemp will be significantly easier to research now that hemp products have been removed from the Controlled Substances Act. This will lead to a better understanding of the therapeutic benefits of cannabinoids and other phytonutrients in hemp.
An increase in production and better access to hemp as an agricultural commodity may lead to the discovery of new and exciting uses for this amazing crop.
Keep your eyes on the horizon, the future is hemp.