The signing of the 2018 farm bill legalizes hemp in the United States. This move can also be considered a move forward for federal legalization of cannabis as well.
Hemp-derived products have been removed from Schedule I status and are no longer prohibited by the Controlled Substances Act. Hemp will also now be monitored and overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture rather than the U.S. Department of Justice. Farmers who choose to grow hemp will need to submit cultivation plans and make sure their crop is made up of plants that contain less than 0.3% THC.
The change in legalization, however, shows trends are changing in regard to prohibition of marijuana. Hemp has long been tied up in the federal prohibition of plants with greater than 0.3% THC, despite the fact that hemp does not have the same effects and is not used in the same manner as marijuana.
This change is the first move made in regard to marijuana plants since the drug was added to the Schedule I status list in 1970. Also, the current status of the bill includes a caveat that those who have drug convictions related to marijuana won’t be able to grow hemp or create products utilizing the plant. However, that aspect of the legislation has an expiration date: 10 years from now.
Some marijuana advocates are excited about the change because they feel it has a positive impact on cannabidiol, or CBD, as well. This is because the concentration of THC in CBD is typically around the 0.3% mark. However, CBD is not specifically mentioned in the legislation, while the change in hemp status is clearly outlined.
The legislation provides a wide blanket of relief for hemp farmers, as it permits their use of federal banks, transportation of product and seed across state lines and also seed sourcing. The move is a welcome one for those who hope to see marijuana legalized at the federal level, since it provides opportunity for conversations based on the successful change of hemp’s status.
Various executives and movers and shakers in the hemp industry see this as a significant victory for their industry. Meanwhile, other farmers may consider growing hemp now that its status has changed to legal and widely accepted.