Why You Should Care About the Farm Bill

On December 20, 2018, the long-awaited 2018 Farm Bill was signed into law.  Why should you care? 

Well, with it came a massive change in federal policy regarding industrial hemp, including the removal of hemp from the Controlled Substances Act and the consideration of hemp as an agricultural product.  In essence, the Farm Bill of 2018 fully legalized hemp after an 80+ year long ban. 

Let’s dive into the details. The Farm Bill specifically did the following:

  • Removes the plant cannabis sativa L. from CSA if it or a plant contains no more than 0.3% THC on a dry-weight basis. This applies to any and all parts of the plant.
  • Tells the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) to come up with national hemp regulations “as expeditiously as practicable.”
  • Allows states, territories and Indian tribes to submit hemp-growing regulations plans to the USDA, with no deadline for doing so. The plans must include:
    Š• THC testing procedures, including inspections done at least annually.
    Š• Bookkeeping procedures to keep track of land approved for hemp cultivation.
    • ŠPlans for “effective disposal” of hemp plants with too much THC.
  • Gives USDA the ability to approve or reject those cultivation regulations within 60 days.
  • Gives the USDA one year to study the 42 existing hemp states’ progress
  • Bans hemp cultivation by people with drug felonies in the past 10 years.
  • Guarantees that hemp and hemp products can be moved from state to state to state and imported and exported the same as any other crop
  • Farmers who commit multiple violations of THC limits—defined as three times in a five-year period—could lose the ability to grow hemp for five years.
  • If states fail to submit hemp-oversight plans, or if their plans are rejected by the USDA, farmers in those jurisdictions will have to follow the as-yet-unwritten federal guidelines for hemp production.
  • Farmers who exceed THC limits and show a “culpable mental state greater than negligence” must be reported to state or tribal law enforcement authorities.

Wait, wasn’t hemp legalized in the 2014 Farm Bill?  Yes, Hemp was partially legalized under a very defined and more restrictive pilot program.  Due to the success of hemp growth under the pilot programs (in over 40 states), the Farm Bill of 2018 fully removes hemp from the Controlled Substances Act and begins to treat it akin to other agricultural crops.

SOURCE: Hemp Industry Daily