The 2018 Farm Bill Changes Everything for Hemp

Farming Hemp May Be Legal

Congress just reached an agreement on the 2018 Farm Bill that could make farming hemp in the United States legal for the first time in nearly a century.

The legislation has had bipartisan support. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) is a cosponsor of the legislation. It has been a major goal of Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KT) to help Kentucky farmers convert their tobacco farming to a new, more profitable cash crop. Other legislators have worked hard for the passage of this Bill in an effort to achieve similar goals.

New Definition of Hemp

According to the Vote Hemp blog, the new Farm Bill law establishes hemp as all parts of the cannabis plant. According to the federal government’s new definition, industrial hemp now includes “seeds, derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids,” and any other part of the plant that contains a THC level of 0.3% or less.

Industrial hemp is a cannabis plant, but it is not marijuana. Unlike marijuana, hemp is a non-psychoactive cannabis that is mainly grown for its high cannabidiol (CBD) content.

The Farm Bill removes hemp from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and makes the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) the federal regulatory agency responsible for overseeing hemp cultivation. Since hemp will no longer be a scheduled drug, it will be more easily researched.

Hemp Regulations by USDA and States

However, hemp will still be regulated through the USDA and individual states. Any state that wishes to have primary regulatory authority over hemp can submit a proposal to the USDA.

Several states have shown more leniency than others with regard to hemp farming. This is likely to continue. However, the Farm Bill establishes a set of minimum requirements. According to the Vote Hemp blog, these regulations include maintaining information, including a legal description, about the land on which the hemp is grown. It also requires states to have procedures in place for inspecting and testing the hemp crop.

States must comply with federal enforcement regulations. That includes having a plan in place to dispose of any illegal hemp products that are manufactured in their state.

Finally, they must have proof that either the state or an Indian tribe “has the resources and personnel to carry out the requirements.”

The new Farm Bill will go into effect Jan 1, 2019 if the president signs the bill before the end of December 2018. However, it will take some time for states to implement the bill and meet its requirements.

Business Opportunities for Farmers

The change in hemp regulations will mean big business opportunities for farmers and agribusiness throughout the country. Nationally, hemp is already a booming industry. It predicated to be worth $1 billion over the next 2 or 3 years.

Hemp has enormous commercial versatility. It can be used in products including skin care, fuel, animal food, rope, fabric, and paint. We currently import $573 million worth of hemp-related products annually that we have not been able to legally manufacture in the U.S.

The passage of the current bill may not reduce that amount of imports, because the U.S. demand and global demand for hemp-related products seems insatiable at this time. However, it will allow American farmers to enter the expanding hemp market, too.

Medicinal Applications of CBD

The medicinal benefits of CBD have already been demonstrated for seizures. In fact, the FDA recently approved Epidiolex, the first CBD drug, to treat seizures.

But hemp may have many other medicinal applications as well. There is little doubt that passage of the 2018 Farm Bill will open the floodgate to research and potential for new therapeutic options for people in pain.











  1. Mavis Johnson on December 16, 2018 at 10:40 pm

    It is too bad we don’t have any kind of looms or the ability to make textiles, and clothing anymore here in the US. The focus on CBD is mostly a get rich quick scheme, and as it is legalized people are learning that the miracle cures are mostly hype. we won’t see anyone considering rebuilding our textile industry with hemp, as long as they believe CBD oil is the end product. It never ceases to amaze me how limiting our so called “Market Based” ideology and mass media deception really is. Right now with no regulation or quality control, they can sell CBD oil for 20 bucks or more an ounce. It became another over-hyped health product, with no quality control, and plenty of misleading anecdotal evidence.
    The US no longer has the ability to manufacture textiles or clothing, all of that industry was shipped overseas to sweatshops. We have not seen any clever “entrepreneurs” announce they are going to create jobs by rebuilding the textile industry, there is more quick cash in selling CBD to gullible or desperate people. We can’t expect our corrupt congress, or regulatory agencies to protect Americans by standardizing CBD oil or any other “natural products.”

  2. Dr. Jeffrey Fudin on December 16, 2018 at 11:27 pm

    Great post Dr. Webster. As you know, it’s important for people to understand the legal and pharmacological differences between cannabidiol and THC.

  3. Industrial Hemp Farms on January 11, 2019 at 9:49 pm

    It is certainly great that the federal government has finally legalized hemp. Hemp has been legal in Colorado for years, and the federal government must have realized how much money it was bringing in. Canada is a step ahead and just legalized cannabis. Their government must be jumping for joy and I assume the US will follow suit within the next 10 years.

    As for the above poster, Mavis, industrial hemp still has tons of other applications such as paper products. It could also be huge in the energy sector. Also if you are thinking in terms of jobs, think also of the export. The United States could be the top producer in hemp crop and do you think all of this will stay inside the US? I think not. Boosting the agriculture industry will be much better for the economy than bringing the sweat shops back. As far as CBD demand, the market is determining it. not the marketers making it (sure they may be riding the pony a bit)

    Thanks for the great post Dr Webster

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