The 2018 Farm Bill is a massive piece of legislation renewed every five years since 1933, outlining regulations on everything in the agriculture sector from food stamps to land use. President Trump signed the New Farm Bill just last week which contained a revised section for the CBD industry regarding industrial hemp. Congress laid the foundation for these new laws in the 2014 Farm Bill when it first paved the way to allow for “Industrial Hemp Research.” While almost monumental in its purpose, the 2014 bill failed to outline the lawfulness/illegality of hemps integral compounds, which include CBD. It also set the bar for THC limits exceptionally low, which only diminished the ability to create authentic research on the benefits of CBD for health, wellness & nutrition.
Congress has legalized hemp by removing an exception to the controlled substances act’s definition of “cannabis,” for what it terms “industrial hemp.” By legalizing industrial hemp research, the Farm Bill also effectively legalized the plants used to produce CBD.
What the hell is Hemp & CBD?
There exists some fuzzy distinctions between hemp & marijuana. Before diving any further into the new Farm Bill, let's clarify this mess. Hemp, marijuana, cannabis, ganja, sticky icky & Mary Jane are all the same plant species. While one has landed thousands in prisons, the other is a thriving force in our economy. Weird, we know. Although they are the same plant, hemp is a type of cannabis plant that contains little to no amounts of the psychoactive compound THC, the main factor in marijuana associated with feeling “high.” Hemp contains under 0.3% THC, therefore it will not get you high. While CBD can be extracted from both marijuana or hemp, the Farm Bill now allows for its commercial production as long as those plants contain no more than 0.3% of THC. Without the psychoactive effects of THC involved, CBD has all the benefits of the cannabis plant without the worries.
The demand for CBD oil has been skyrocketing because of its discernible therapeutic properties, but has existed in a confusing gray area of varying state laws as far as legality. Scientific evidence has shown that CBD could improve mental health issues, ranging from general anxiety to schizophrenia, and could help eliminate withdrawal symptoms related to nicotine & opiate addictions. Despite being scientifically tested, these are still just claims of promising evidence, but the new Farm Bill opens the door for further research to confirm these assertions.
Let’s break down the good, the bad, and the ugly of the 2018 US Farm Bill to find exactly what all this hype really means for the future of CBD in the medicinal & cultural landscape going forward.
The big news for hemp growers & CBD manufacturers is that new laws no longer group hemp together with its psychoactive cousin, marijuana. Hemp will instead be managed as a crop by the Department of Agriculture as opposed to an illegal substance by the Justice Department. To save time, here’s a compiled list of the major positive implications from the revised Farm Bills & new laws regarding hemp:
- Hemp is much easier to grow than cannabis, which in effect offers a lower cost option for both buying and producing CBD oils & tinctures.
- Banks, credit cards & payment processors can now participate in serving the hemp & CBD industry.
- For the first time ever, hemp farmers will be allowed to buy crop insurance, apply for loans & grants, and write off business expenses.
- Interstate commerce of hemp & CBD products is allowed.
- Pharmaceutical research of CBD for health, wellness & nutrition is now permitted.
- Better transparency in the CBD market, a market that is oversaturated with brands & products that are hard to discern legitimacy from one another.
That which glitters is not always gold. Despite this huge victory for the US hemp and CBD industry, there are now some hurdles to clear. Each state will be required to submit a plan of action for how it will move forward with hemp cultivation.** States that choose not to do so, will force hemp farmers to have to submit their plans directly to the federal government which has potential to become a considerable, time-consuming obstacle. Secondly, the Farm Bill still bans anyone convicted of a drug felony from working in the hemp industry for at least 10 years. Previously, the 2014 bill banned persons with a drug conviction on their record from working in the industry entirely, so it’s not all bad news we suppose.
** As of writing this blog post, at least 38 states have considered legislation related to industrial hemp and CBD in 2018. These bills ranged from clarifying existing laws to establishing new licensing requirements and programs. At least 5 states – Alaska, Arizona, Kansas, Missouri & Oklahoma – enacted legislation in 2018 establishing hemp/CBD research and industrial hemp pilot programs.
Despite new regulations, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) still maintains the current authority to regulate products containing cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act).
Following President Trump's ‘John Hancock’ on the new Farm Bill, the Food and Drug Administration said in a lengthy statement that it hopes to make more efficient “pathways” for companies to introduce cannabis and cannabis-derived products, including cannabidiol (CBD) into interstate commerce.
“The FDA requires a cannabis product (hemp-derived or otherwise) that is marketed with a claim of therapeutic benefit, or with any other disease claim, to be approved by the FDA for its intended use before it may be introduced into interstate commerce. This is the same standard to which we hold any product marketed as a drug for human or animal use. Cannabis and cannabis-derived products claiming in their marketing and promotional materials that they’re intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of diseases (such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, psychiatric disorders and diabetes) are considered new drugs or new animal drugs and must go through the FDA drug approval process for human or animal use before they are marketed in the U.S.”
Waiting for said “pathways” to exist and having to go through the “FDA drug approval process” is just another slow-moving complication of dealing with government agencies. The FDA continued to outline another imperative stipulation in which prior law prohibits the introduction of both CBD and THC products into food intended for interstate commerce, regardless of whether or not they are derived from cannabis plants or hemp. Under the current FD&C Act, it’s still illegal to add either CBD or THC into the food supply, or market them as dietary supplements, because of a provision that forbids the use of any substances that are already active ingredients in any drug to be used in food. The FDA statement said three ingredients derived from hemp are safe as foods and won’t require additional approvals, as long as marketers do not make claims that they treat disease.
Nevertheless, don't misinterpret our stance on the FDA’s involvement. Although CBD products getting to market may experience significant delays, the FDA will be crucial for providing the much needed transparency in the CBD market, whereas in the past companies could make any claim they want on their product labels and go unchecked. In the past it wasn't uncommon to find that CBD infused products often had significantly more or less CBD than advertised, and some products even contained undeclared amounts of THC.
Despite these complications, hemp & cannabis advocates everywhere are celebrating the bill as a victory. Industry supporters should understand by now the far-reaching implications of the new laws going into effect regarding hemp and can start to wonder what this step will mean for future legalization of recreational cannabis.
In the process, CaliConnected has teamed up with USA Hemp to become one of the first online headshops to distribute CBD. From CBD oils for pets & humans, treats & gummies, multivitamins, lotions, bath-bombs and more, CaliConnected is poised and getting ready to become your number one online CBD supplier within the next couple of months.
USA Hemp features a genetic breeding program that focuses on developing industrial hemp genetics for CBD production, using selective breeding from their healthiest & most robust strains to provide adapted hemp varieties high in CBD with virtually no THC content. Completely natural & safe, all USA hemp products are grown with just sun & water for a true organic hemp you can trust, and tested by 3rd party labs to ensure the correct dosing and legality of each bottle. Subscribe to our email list below & stay connected for updates regarding our online distribution of USA Hemp’s CBD products!