December 20, 2018--President Trump has signed the 2018 Farm Bill, including the provisions which legalize the domestic cultivation, production, and commercial development of hemp and hemp products at the federal level. This action comes after the Senate passed the legislation on December 11th and the House of Representatives a day later.
Hemp is defined in the new law as "the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol [THC] concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis." Provisions of the bill also amend the definition of “marihuana” in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, thereby completely removing hemp and all parts of the plant and all derivatives from that definition. This effectively removes all U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) authority regarding hemp cultivation, production, or commercial activity for products that contain hemp or constituents of hemp.
The 2018 Farm Bill amends the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 with permanent amendments that categorize hemp as an agricultural commodity under the regulatory purview of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). By recognizing hemp as an agricultural commodity, this crop will now be eligible for federal programs such as crop insurance, agricultural research grants, and certification of organic production practices under the National Organic Program. Classification as an agricultural commodity also benefits hemp industry access to the financial services needed to support agricultural production of hemp and hemp products.
Other hemp provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill create requirements for hemp “plans” administered by individual States or Tribal governments such that hemp production is under individual State (or Tribal) controls. Over a one-year transition period, hemp plans (consisting of a system for tracking properties where hemp is grown and various controls to verify the crop is hemp) will be submitted to the USDA.
AHPA and many of its members, as well as other organizations representing the hemp-products marketplace, have been working for several years to support legislation to remove federal constraints on the cultivation and marketing of hemp and hemp-derived products in the U.S. For far too long the opportunities for U.S. farmers to grow this crop have been very limited; and manufacturers have encountered restrictions against using the best quality materials obtained from the plant’s leaves and flowers, and instead have been allowed in many cases to use only the stalk and the seed as their ingredient sources.
Since 2010, AHPA has been endorsing legislation to legalize hemp. For almost a decade it has supported the rights of American farmers and U.S. domestic companies to bring high quality hemp products to the market – and by extension this support by AHPA has extended to making sure American citizens can have unencumbered access to this plant and products made from this plant.
In summary, AHPA and the several organizations that represent the hemp industry have been working on and supporting these important legislative changes for many years. Much work remains to be done with federal and state agencies to make sure that regulations that are now established support hemp growers and marketers, including the companies that have been innovators in the category as well as the many long-standing herbal and natural product brands that now have an interest in entering this product category, and that ultimately support hemp consumers. AHPA will maintain the leadership role it staked out almost a decade ago through engagement with the government agencies that will regulate these products, and continue its cooperation and collaboration with the other organizations that have also provided leadership in this work to assist companies in understanding what they will need to do to be compliant and successful in this new market.