UPDATE 12/17/2018: Farm Bill Signed.
President Donald Trump just signed the Farm Bill, legalizing industrial hemp in the United States.
The era of hemp prohibition is over. Effective immediately, hemp is permanently deemed a legal agricultural commodity, and popular products such as hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) can no longer be mistaken as controlled substances, like marijuana. The Drug Enforcement Administration now has no possible claim to interfere with the interstate commerce of hemp products.
Because hemp was not available for general farming like corn or soybeans many Americans were confused over the legality of hemp. Until 2014, only imported hemp was legal in the U.S. according to federal law. Up until that time, America was the largest importer of hemp products in the world, mostly from China, Canada and Europe.
With the signing of the 2018 Farm Bill that’s a changing.
What does this mean for the Hemp industry?
The 2018 Farm Bill represents one of the largest step towards undoing the scientifically-baseless “Marihuana Tax Act of 1937” in 81 years. The commercial production of hemp is now legal in the USA. It officially reclassifies hemp for commercial use and removes hemp from the Controlled Substances Act.
According to the American Agriculturist, the 2018 Farm Bill will allow hemp to be regulated by the USDA, including the labeling of American-grown hemp as certified organic; interstate hemp commerce will be legalized; financing and research opportunities will open up; hemp farmers will be guaranteed water rights; the definition of hemp will be altered to make it a non-drug commodity.
With the legalization of hemp, CBD can be regulated and researched much more than before to truly understand the medical efficacy for a wide range of diseases.
What is hemp?
Hemp and marijuana are closely related, however, hemp lacks the high concentration of THC that is responsible for the high people get from smoking marijuana.
Even though hemp can’t get you high it had been banned in the United States. To understand the differences between hemp and marijuana it’s critical to know what each plant is capable of doing. The Ministry of Hemp offers the most comprehensive and easily-digestible explanation of hemp versus marijuana.
Hemp has hundreds of uses, many of which are yet to be discovered or fully realized thanks to the lack of available research funds. From textiles (softer and more durable than cotton), plastics (that can withstand 10 times the impact of steel), to livestock feed and home cooking, hemp has many applications that can reduce our dependence both on other countries and fossil fuels. In making paper alone, a single acre of hemp can save four acres of trees. Everything from our vodka to our cars is waiting to be reimagined in the future with legal hemp.
However, one of the most exciting applications of hemp lies in the extracted cannabinoids or CBD oil. According to the Washington Post, “dozens of studies have found evidence that the compound can treat epilepsy as well as a range of other illnesses, including anxiety, schizophrenia, heart disease, and cancer.”
By law, hemp is required to be very low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CBD is the non-psychotropic version of cannabis with superfood status. In 2003, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services referred to some of the cannabinoid molecules found in hemp, as “antioxidants and neuroprotectants” and wrote patents on them.
Why was hemp banned in the first place?
A lobby-influenced Congress passed the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, which effectively outlawed the possession of cannabis—including hemp—after hundreds of years of growth and use even from the time of the British colonization. In the late 1960s, that law was repealed but cannabis was included as a Schedule 1 drug (the most “dangerous” class of drugs including heroin) in the Controlled Substances Act.
The 2018 Farm Bill expands upon provisions in the 2014 version of the annual bill, which created Hemp Pilot Programs. These Hemp Pilot Programs “created a framework for the legal cultivation by states of ‘industrial hemp’ without a permit from the Drug Enforcement Administration.” The 2014 Hemp Pilot Programs were a success for farmers and consumers across the U.S., from Colorado to North Carolina.
Why does this make economic sense?
Compared to cotton, corn, and soybeans, hemp requires little water, grows in poor soil, grows tightly spaced (crowding out weeds) and boasts a deep, soil-aerating root system.
Despite all these advantages, the U.S. has had to import over $60 million worth of hemp from overseas countries like China because it’s been illegal to grow it in the states.
China produces 50% of the world’s cannabis supply, with a large majority of that supply being the THC-lacking hemp variety; this gives China “massive economic potential” which “poses a threat to cannabis interests around the world and particularly in the U.S. market.”
By contrast, U.S. farmers grew 25,000 acres of hemp in the entire country in 2017, with a majority of that being used to make CBD oil. That’s hardly enough to launch an industry. Only recently have we seen an increase in manufacturers using hemp fibers to make fabrics, construction materials, health products, and other consumer goods.
With the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, America will have a chance to counter China’s massive influence in the cannabis hemp industry.
The 2018 Farm Bill will radically overhaul America’s relation to hemp and could unleash a hemp renaissance in the coming years that will close the gap between the U.S. and China.
We continue to see great progress towards a new perspective on cannabis within the US.
Hemp can be grown to harvest on about half as much water as corn can, for example. Hemp also tolerates a wide variety of soils and temperatures, requires no pesticides, and grows extremely fast, soaring to as much as 20 feet in 100 days.
Thus, if hemp eventually replaces other crops across large acreages, it could free up precious water supplies in the arid West for other uses.
“The health and wellness industries are in for a major overhaul with the massive research and development and exploration into CBD‘s, CBGs, CBN’s and 113 other cannabinoids as well as some 300 terpenes found in the industrial hemp plant.”
Hemp oils high in cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD) have gained fame due to the amazing evidence of their miraculous neuroprotective impact on little “Charlotte Figi’s Life” – displayed to the world by CNN and sold under the Charlotte’s Web brand. Now, millions realize that these neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits extend to a variety of health applications, including neurological issues like mild anxiety, pain from exercise-induced inflammation, and dozens more significant issues.