The 2018 Farm Bill was signed into law by President Donald Trump in December of 2018. It excluded hemp from the definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act, which is classified as cannabis (Cannabis sativa L.) and cannabis derivatives with extremely low concentrations of the psychoactive compound delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) (no more than 0.3 percent THC on a dry weight basis) (CSA).
We understand hemp’s enormous promise for the country’s farmers and agriculture. The FDA treats cannabis and cannabis-derived drugs, including hemp products, in the same way, it treats any other drug.
However, FDA is committed to moving fiber products forward through the Agency’s current regulatory frameworks, and we’re looking at whether it will be necessary to open up new regulatory pathways for fiber products containing cannabidiol (CBD). The FDA argues that taking this path benefits patients and public health, encourages healthy and appropriate product growth, and builds customer trust.
What Exactly Happened with Farm Bill 2018?
This latest law has had a major impact on hemp reform in the US. However, some misunderstandings about what this regulatory reform entails persist.
In the United States, Hemp is Legal Under Strict Conditions
The authorized pilot projects to research cannabis (often referred to as “commercial hemp”) that had been certified by both the USDA and state agriculture departments. This provided for the expansion of fiber production on a small scale for specific purposes.
The 2018 Farm Bill is more comprehensive than previous Farm Bills. It permits cannabis production in its entirety, rather than only experimental projects to gauge consumer demand in hemp-derived goods. It expressly permits the commercial or non-commercial movement of hemp-derived products across state lines.
It also removes all limitations on the selling, transportation, or ownership of hemp-derived goods as long as they are manufactured in a legal manner.
Fiber Research Remain Essential
One of the objectives of the 2014 Farm Bill was to promote and defend cannabis science. This initiative is continued in the 2018 Farm Bill. The protections for cannabis research, as well as the circumstances under which such research can and should be performed, were re-extended by Section 7605.
Marijuana research is now expanded by section 7501 of the Farm Bill, which includes hemp under the Critical Agricultural Materials Act. This clause acknowledges the plant’s relevance, variety, and potential for drugs, but it also recognizes a significant point: there is still a lot to learn about hemp and its products from a commercial and consumer standpoint.
Cannabis Farmers are Treated Like Other Farmers
In certain respects, cannabis is regulated like other agricultural crops under the 2018 Farm Bill. This is a crucial issue. Although there are laws that strongly control fiber, and there are worries within law enforcement that cannabis plants used to make weed would be mixed with hemp plants (rightly or wrongly), this act establishes flax as a common crop.
Did Farm Bill Legalized Hemp?
Many people — both inside and outside the agriculture sector — are scrambling to figure out the potential market for this relatively new (at least in the United States) agricultural product, thanks to hemp’s inclusion in the 2018 farm bill. Proponents of fiber as a possible game-changer for US agriculture are becoming more positive and outspoken with each passing year.
If you believe cannabis is the next big thing, has modest potential as a new crop for growers, or is a big dud, everybody should agree that farmers, politicians, and the public are becoming more interested in the commodity.
What is Hemp?
Although many people are excited about fiber’s future, or at the very least interested in it, it’s important to take a step back to define what it is and isn’t. Hemp has been used for decades as a fiber and oilseed for a number of agricultural and consumer goods all over the world.
The 2014 farm bill gave a boost to the fiber industry in the United States by allowing “institutions of higher education” and state agriculture departments to cultivate cannabis under a pilot program as long as state legislature approved it. In addition, the 2014 bill provided a classification of industrial cannabis formally lowering the THC threshold in the United States to 0.3 percent dry weight.
However, the 2018 farm bill went even further, allowing the fiber to be grown as an industrial crop and eliminating it from the list of controlled substances. Cannabis was also identified as a covered crop under crop insurance in the 2018 bill, and the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation board was ordered to streamline the process of establishing fiber policies.
Given the optimism and confusion-surrounding flax’s business prospects, the 2018 bill also mandates that the secretary of agriculture pursue a review of the 2014 farm bill’s hemp-related agricultural pilot projects, as well as all other agricultural and academic studies on the topic, to ascertain the economic feasibility of a domestic flax market.
Furthermore, although the legislation increases the capacity for cannabis cultivation, it does not provide a mechanism that allows farmers to cultivate jute as freely as other crops.
Which States are Legal to Cultivate Cannabis?
The approval of the 2018 Agricultural Bill signaled the start of a new era for hemp farming in the United States. Farmers’ ability to tap into that opportunity, on the other hand, is also reliant on state legislation.
In 2019, the states that have passed legislation allowing people to profit from the booming cash crop greatly outnumber those that haven’t.
Idaho, South Dakota, and Mississippi are the only three states that do not allow any form of hemp farming. Cannabis can be grown commercially, for testing, or in pilot projects in the rest of the United States.
It’s also worth noting that the difference between being permitted to grow Cannabis for research or as part of a pilot program and the comparatively wide-open doors for farmers who want to grow fiber for profit is huge.
Arizona has moved quickly to create a favorable regulatory climate for farmers seeking crops that are more lucrative than cotton.
On May 31, 2018, state lawmakers made industrial marijuana farming and processing legal in the Grand Canyon State. Agriculture officials created a licensing and certification program as part of the process.
Despite the fact that it is legal, some farmers are concerned about the inherent risk of growing cannabis for CBD products. Unlike other states where programs are up and running, Arizona is still working on establishing laws to regulate the industry. What to do with crops with THC levels higher than 0.3 percent is one of the regulations.
California has enabled the commercial cultivation of industrial hemp since 2019. Unlike the majority of states, California does not require farmers to register at the state level.
Farmers in California must register with the agricultural commissioner in the county in which they plan to expand. The state is potentially creating a complicated patchwork of laws by authorizing agricultural commissioners in each of California’s 58 counties to process hemp registration. This means Commissioners will come up with their own interpretation of the state law.
Gov. Brian Kemp signed the Georgia cannabis Farming Act into law on May 10, 2019, bringing Georgia into the industrial fiber expanding states. The law allows for industrial hemp study, development, processing, and regulation in the state.
In addition, to obtain a cannabis license from the Georgia Department of Agriculture, growers in Georgia would need to pass criminal background checks and report the GPS coordinates of grow sites, among other criteria.
When it comes to harnessing the promise of industrial fiber, West Virginia feels like it’s ahead of the curve. Despite the fact that the state is not at the forefront of product development, policy and funding are making a difference in the state.
In Montana, marijuana licenses are released in two phases. First, eligible applicants are granted a conditional grower license, which allows them to purchase seeds and plant hemp. The other license is a production permit, which is given to a farmer after they have cultivated their crops and met all of the requirements.
Following the rapid expansion of the crop in Big Sky Country since 2017, the Ministry of Hemp declared Montana the number one state to grow cannabis in the United States.
Farmers can now profit from this incredible crop thanks to the 2018 Farming Bill. Before getting your hopes up, however, you should research the laws in your state. You’ll want to keep a close eye on what’s coming down the pipeline in addition to current regulations, especially since so many legislatures are reviewing laws regarding industrial fiber cultivation.
Above all, the key will be to locate yourself in a state where fiber cultivation is legal in, and then to obtain the appropriate seeds and clones to ensure the highest quality crop when harvest time arrives.