US Farm Bill: What’s Next for Hemp, CBD, and Cannabis?

By: Elena Schmidt September 11, 2019 • 6 minutes

Hemp has been classified in the same category as marijuana since the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act and deemed federally illegal since the 1970 Controlled Substances Act. But you might have noticed a change recently. In December 2018, congress passed the Farm Bill and today you can find hemp seed lotions and hemp-derived CBD products everywhere from Sephora to coffee shops, in beautifully packaged creams, drinks, and oils. But does the 2018 Farm Bill mean that hemp and CBD are fully legal in every state? And what might it mean for the future of cannabis legislation?

The Farm Bill is worth investigating because it created a brand new industry and sets a precedent that may lead to broader cannabis legalization in the future. It’s also important to investigate what hemp legalization means and what it does not mean for the CBD market.

What exactly is the 2018 Farm Bill?

The 2018 Farm Bill allows hemp cultivation on a broad scale and explicitly allows companies to transfer hemp-derived products across state borders. It also allows for sale and possession of hemp-derived compounds, as long as those products are developed according to the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) regulations and in compliance with the federal definition of hemp.

According to the law, hemp must be cultivated to contain no more than 0.3% THC — cannabis’ main psychoactive compound. Therefore, hemp plants can’t get you “high,” but they can contain a high concentration of CBD. Hemp plants can also be manufactured to create fibers, textiles, cosmetics, paper, and food to name a few.

While hemp is legal under the 2018 Farm Bill, the USDA is still finalizing federal regulations related to compliance, sale, and transfer that may affect the current industry. The agency has promised to release these plans by the end of 2019.

States who don’t want to wait for federal guidance are required to devise a plan and submit it to the Secretary of USDA for approval before they can begin to license growers or regulate the industry. As of today, 47 states have enacted legislation related to cultivation and production, but they vary in scope from state to state. Moreover, most of these states have not developed legislation related to the sale of hemp products yet. The remaining 3 states, Idaho, Mississippi, and South Dakota explicitly restrict both hemp cultivation and sale.

Ultimately, the 2018 Farm Bill legalizes hemp production within the parameters above, but it does not create a system in which people can grow the crop as easily as bananas or carrots. While we wait for USDA guidelines, hemp growers must adhere to specific state regulations and cannot access the same federal assistance that most U.S. farmers are entitled to receive.

What does the Farm Bill mean for CBD?

One myth you may have heard about the 2018 Farm Bill is that CBD is now 100% legal. We get why you’d be confused because CBD is everywhere you look! Yoga studios line the shelves with CBD balms, bars serve CBD-infused cocktails, and mainstream chains like CVS and Walgreens are adding CBD beauty and wellness products to their stores. While it’s true that under the 2018 Farm Bill there will be more broadly available, legal, CBD products, there are caveats. Specifically, CBD is only legal if it’s extracted from hemp (as opposed to marijuana) in a state with the proper regulations and licensing in place.

Companies who can’t prove that their CBD came from hemp are at risk for punishment, such as felony convictions for repeated offenses. Consumers may also be at risk. Technically consumers can face punishment if the CBD they consume was extracted from marijuana instead of hemp because the government expects you to know where your CBD comes from. While this is a slight risk, the government has largely stepped back from charging individuals and companies with marijuana offenses.

We recently launched Tikun Hemp to provide a trusted source for CBD. Adhering to all state regulations, our products were developed to support your daily wellness and are made with CBD sourced from Colorado sunshine-grown hemp. Check out our sister site to learn more.

What does the Farm Bill for mean for marijuana?

Despite hemp’s new legal status and the widespread legalization of medical and adult cannabis in states throughout the country, marijuana remains a Schedule 1 drug. Under this status, marijuana is federally illegal, has “no safe medical use,” and also “exhibits a high risk of abuse or misuse.”

Regardless of the Farm Bill or the fact that 33 states have legalized medical marijuana, any cannabis plant that contains more than .3% THC is federally illegal. Even medical CBD products are federally illegal if they are derived from marijuana. Unless the medicine has an FDA-approved label, it is technically out of compliance.

While the Farm Bill does not overturn marijuana’s Schedule 1 status from the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, it may help promote more medical cannabis research in the future. Why? Before the Farm Bill, scientists were restricted to using “research-grade” cannabis from the nation’s sole provider at the University of Mississippi. However, now that hemp-derived CBD is off the restricted list, medical and scientific researchers will have broader access to hemp to conduct various types of studies.

We at Tikun cannot wait for research opportunities to expand in the U.S. Our team in Israel has been conducting clinical studies since 2007 and we know first-hand that more knowledge brings more acceptance from lawmakers, patients, and society in general. The Farm Bill is a much needed stepping stone on the path to greater cannabis awareness.

What’s next for CBD, Hemp, and Cannabis?

CBD & Hemp

The Farm Bill ensures that CBD and other hemp-derived products are legal in states that have enacted regulatory legislation. States who haven’t enacted legislation will be required to follow the upcoming USDA guidelines. While we wait, the next regulatory hurdle the industry must face is with the FDA, who is currently reviewing CBD safety and labeling procedures. 2020 will bring many changes to this budding industry and we look forward to keeping you updated.

Cannabis 

Medical and adult use cannabis companies are still operating against federal law, but we think these outlaws will continue to thrive. Medical cannabis companies like Tikun Olam operate freely in states with pro-cannabis laws and have an immensely positive impact on countless lives. The majority of the country is moving towards broad cannabis support, and we believe the government will continue to evolve along the path of legalization.