The United States Congress passed the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (also known as the 2018 Farm Bill) on December 12, 2018. The Farm Bill officially became law on December 20, 2018, after receiving President Donald J. Trump’s signature.
This farm bill reauthorized expenditures and provided important extensions for some states regarding nutritional, including agricultural policies. More importantly, it de-scheduled or removed Hemp (a strain of cannabis) from the Controlled Substances Act.
The main reason for this is because industrial hemp contains very little concentrations of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) and a higher concentration of CBD (Cannabidiol). CBD has varied applications that are useful and over the years, advocates have pushed for a more relaxed hemp-CBD regulation.
Why Was Hemp-CBD Federally Illegal?
There are old legislations relating to hemp-CBD. However, they all failed at making the distinction between hemp-CBD and other cannabis strains. These include the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act and the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, which placed hemp in schedule 1.
Schedule 1 refers to the government-controlled substance category, which consists of drugs likely to be abused and with no real medical applications. For years, hemp remained under the same classification (Schedule 1) with all other cannabis, heroin, ecstasy, and LSC. This made it illegal to cultivate hemp.
The new 2018 Farm Bill clearly differentiates hemp from all the other cannabis strains. That is part of what the excitement is all about.
What States Have Laws Governing Hemp-CBD?
Some states have been running different pilot programs and conducting studies to help cultivate hemp due to the 2014 Farm Bill. That one didn’t separate Hemp like the 2018 farm bill, which has now paved way for Hemp-CBD cultivation programs at the state level.
Arizona, Alaska, Missouri, Kansas, New Jersey, and Oklahoma all enacted legislation for hemp research, including cultivation programs. One of the latest states to join them is Florida which recently approved a bill to allow the creation of a state hemp-CBD program. The bill is scheduled to go into effect on July 1, 2019, after being signed by the Governor.
Important Restrictions of The 2018 Farm Bill
Hemp is still defined in the legislation as a cannabis plant but terms or conditions were included for CBD. Legal hemp must contain less than 0.3 percent of THC. In other words, it shouldn’t be able to get someone high. Hemp and products derived from hemp that meets guidelines will be allowed to move freely across state borders.
Increased Protection for Hemp Researchers
Unknowing to some, the 2014 Farm Bill actually allowed industrial hemp programs, which was a significant step towards making hemp legal. What it didn’t do was properly protect hemp research and its researchers.
More emphasis has been placed on hemp researchers in the 2018 Farm Bill CBD regulation. A section of the bill ensures the protection of those that research hemp and extended conditions for carrying out research.
The 2018 farm bill also introduced hemp into the Critical Agricultural Materials Act. That means it recognized hemp as a product “of strategic and industrial importance” because of its diverse applications. With the Farm Bill in play, researchers can easily and freely conduct studies better than before.
Greater Protection for Farmers
Perhaps, the most crucial aspect of the 2018 farm bill is that it normalizes hemp like any other agricultural product. Now there is adequate protection for hemp farmers under the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC).
Farmers can seek coverage against any form of crop damage, which sometimes happens during crop production cycles. For example, damages caused by fire, theft or natural disasters can be rectified via insurance.
Clearing Up Misunderstandings
There are misunderstandings with regards to the 2018 Farm Bill hemp regulations. Some people believe the bill legalizes all cannabis products. As previously noted, the bill removed hemp-CBD (a cannabis strain with low THC) and hemp-CBD derived products from the “Schedule 1” category. However, the 2018 farm bill doesn’t affect or change anything that is already in effect at the state level for medicinal programs.
Any other cannabis products (e.g. marijuana) produced for or by the state, wouldn’t be federally legalized under the Farm Bill. That includes even if it meets required regulations.
The Farm Bill simply made certain exceptions available. In addition, cultivators must be licensed under state or federal law to produce hemp-CBD in appropriate settings.
The Future of Cannabidiol (CBD) Products
The legalization of hemp-CBD is huge. Prior to the farm bill, hemp-CBD infused products were mostly available in vape shops. In addition, only a few doctors recommended them. Now hemp-CBD products are more readily available online, and in retail or health food stores.
We may see more farmers across the United States switch to growing hemp because of the surge in CBD demand. Considering that hemp-CBD can be used in a variety of products such as gumdrops, cooking oil, drinks, and brow gels among others.
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