The Farm Bill and Hemp Legalization

The 2018 Farm Bill brought the hemp plant to the limelight. Following the passage of the legislation, there has been sporadic growth in hemp-derived products. Typically, cannabis or hemp conversations were not the centers of discussion. But, we see people experimenting with home-based products for different health issues.

For the record, the legislation still defines hemp as a variety of cannabis plants. However, there’s a key difference. It classifies hemp as a plant with no more than 0.3% THC. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the compound responsible for the high people associate with cannabis.

The fact is hemp plant will not get you high because it contains only a trace amount of THC. For a long time, federal law did not differentiate between hemp and cannabis plants. However, this has changed now.

Although the 2018 Farm Bill brought a lot of changes, there are still some misconceptions. Some people are not exactly sure what the policies are and how they can navigate hemp usage in their different states.

Hemp is Legal in the United States

The Farm Bill allows for the cultivation of hemp plants. Prior to that, hemp was allowed for limited purposes like research. But with the 2018 Agricultural Improvement Act, farmers can grow hemp for broader usage.

Not only that, but the Farm Bill also allows the transfer of hemp products across states for commercial purposes. So, people can sell, transport, and consume hemp-derived products. Although the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp, it’s not without restrictions.

The Farm Bill didn’t create a system that permits anyone to grow hemp however it pleases them. There are regulations to make sure its production is consistent with the law.

First, the hemp plant must not contain more than 0.3 percent THC, according to section 10113 of the Farm Bill. If a plant has more than the stated amount of THC, the law treats it as marijuana or a non-hemp cannabis plant.

Second, there are shared state-federal regulatory powers over hemp cultivation, production, and sales. For instance, each state department must consult with the governor and chief law enforcement officer. They will come up with a plan to license and regulate hemp plants. They’ll submit this plant to the Secretary of USDA for approval. Growers in the state would have to apply for licenses and comply with federal regulations.

Lastly, the law details actions that are violations of the federal hemp law. Examples are growing hemp without applying for a license or creating products with over 0.3 percent THC.

People who violate these laws are considered offenders. There are punishments for anyone who violates them.

State Legal Cannabis is Still Illegal under Federal Law

The 2018 Farm Bill has no impact on state cannabis programs. Up to 33 states in the United States legalized cannabis for medical use and about 10 for recreational purposes.

However, these programs are still illegal under federal law. The Farm Bill doesn’t change anything about state cannabis programs.

Marijuana, or Cannabis, remains illegal at a federal level in the United States.

Hemp-derived CBD Products

According to Forbes, one of the issues in the hemp industry is understanding the Federal and Drug Administration’s position on CBD. CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a non-intoxicating compound in hemp and cannabis plants.

With the legalization of hemp, CBD became more visible than ever. Although the FDA doesn’t allow CBD in foods, beverages, and dietary supplements, the demand for CBD-based products is increasing daily.

Following the 2018 Farm Bill, the FDA issued a statement stating it still has the right to regulate products containing CBD and cannabis. Per the FDA, companies cannot market hemp-derived CBD products as supplements. Doing so is unlawful.

Also, manufacturers do not have the right to market these products with therapeutic benefits or make claims that they cure diseases.

In June 2018, the FDA approved a CBD drug, Epidiolex, for treating two rare seizures. Epidiolex remains the only FDA-approved drug with CBD as its active ingredient.

Another concern the FDA indicates is in the labelling of these CBD products. After surveying and testing different products, the FDA warns that these CBD products may not contain the amount of CBD stated on the label. The agency is currently working with different bodies to help the public navigate hemp-derived CBD products.


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