In late June, the Senate passed a version of the 2018 Farm Bill, which includes the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, that could federally legalize industrial hemp nationwide if seen to the finish — legislation that has been an ongoing project of one of the most powerful men in America, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The bill contains provisions that will make hemp into a legal commodity crop. In fact, hemp cultivators will even be eligible for crop insurance.
For the first time in over 80 years, this bill legalizes hemp in all forms nationwide, including CBD oils. Before being classified as a narcotic in 1937 and later a Schedule 1 controlled substance in 1970 due to lack of knowledge besides its association with cannabis plant, hemp was a commodity widely grown in the U.S. for a variety of different uses. With the passing of this bill, combined with today’s technology and advancements in industrial manufacturing, we can expect the global market for hemp products to consist of over 25,000 different varieties — many of which will be created and used for the benefits of the plant’s CBD oils.
The federal government’s decision to legalize hemp is part of a longer, more comprehensive process that stretches back to when President Obama first signed the 2014 Farm Bill. The 2014 Farm Bill created a pilot research program permitting state departments of agriculture and universities to grow and research hemp plants.
However, due to the previous federal regulation of the crop, it was extremely difficult to go about this cultivation during the pilot period. Farmers that were seeking to participate in the hemp cultivation program had to first obtain a waiver from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the number of acres in which a farmer could legally plant hemp were severely limited. This meant that while hemp-based products were not illegal to purchase by consumers, only specific groups had legal permission to cultivate hemp and had to go through a multitude of hoops in order to do so.
With the progression of the new bill being pushed forward by Senate Majority Leader McConnell, if passed, all forms of hemp will be unscheduled and excluded from its legal association with marijuana, provided the THC content is below 0.3 percent. This means that hemp would be able to be grown freely in any area of the country in the same manner as other crops, which will lead to exponentially rapid growth in the hemp and CBD oil industries that have already been progressively rising.
So, What Happens Next?
A joint committee comprised of representatives from both the house and senate will be established. The goal of this “conference” is to find a compromise, and a new version must be established for the bill to continue. Once a compromise is found, the bill goes back to vote. Senator McConnell is in a prime position to advocate for its inclusion in the joint bill, scheduled to be heard in both chambers for finalization by Sept. 30, 2018, as this is when the previous Farm Bill expires. Assuming this version of the bill passes both the house and senate, President Trump will likely sign this bill into law.