Despite the gray legal status of cannabidiol or CBD, the demand and the market for CBD products have been steadily growing since the introduction of the industrial hemp pilot programs allowed by the Farm Bill in 2014. With the Senate agreeing to move the bill forward, the House now has the opportunity to weigh in. With Congress in agreement on Farm Bill 2018, only one more person stands in the way of creating a significant shift for hemp and cannabis... the President.
As a promising step in the right direction, the cannabis sector is waiting for the new Farm Bill to pass, signaling a historic change for the illustrious plant. But what exactly will the new Farm Bill change?
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'Marihuana' Gets Redefined
Because hemp and marijuana are the same species of plant, cannabis sativa, historically, the federal law saw them both as equals. Since the Controlled Substances Act in 1970, the legal definition of marijuana included any part of the cannabis sativa l. plant species, regardless of cannabinoid content. An exception was made for industrial hemp stalks and seeds, but the flowers and leaves of hemp were always considered a forbidden part of the plant. With the passage of this bill, hemp plants producing less than .3 percent THC will get an exemption from the federal definition of 'marihuana' altogether.
Controlled Substances Act Gets Updated
Additionally, the new Farm Bill promises to amend the Controlled Substances Act. Hemp, or commercially cultivated cannabis sativa plants producing less than .3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), will be removed from the list of controlled substances. With this amendment, all cannabinoids produced in hemp will no longer be prohibited, even the minimal amount of THC produced by hemp is legal according to the language in the bill:
"TETRAHYDROCANNABINOL. – Schedule I, as set forth in section 202(c) of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 812(c)), is amended in subsection (c)(17) by inserting after 'Tetrahydrocannabinols' the following: ', except for tetrahydrocannabinols in hemp (as defined under section 297A of the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946)'.
New Rules to Play By
Although the 2018 Farm Bill promises to allow hemp production all across the United States, the bill also indicates that there's a new sheriff in town. By designating the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the US Attorney General as the authorities over hemp production, hemp producers are likely to see a new set of regulations and standards enforced in hemp cultivation and production facilities. Specifically, CBD producers are likely to see new cultivation regulations for products intended for medical or dietary purposes.
Expect the FDA to Get Involved
According to the current stipulations made by the FDA, CBD is not approved as an ingredient in food products or any other type of dietary supplement. Therefore, in conjunction with new regulations expected from the USDA on cultivation, producers, and consumers will also likely see new rules and regulations regarding CBD supplements as well.
New Farm Bill Levels the Playing Field
While there may be new rules enforced regarding cultivation and production, the passing of the Farm Bill opens a plethora of essential business tools the industry has otherwise been denied including banking, marketing, and advertising outlets. Plus, as a legitimate crop, hemp producers will be able to apply for farming loans, crop insurance, and water access rights like other crop farming operations. With necessary protections in place and clearly more profit opportunity, more farmers will take notice of the crop.
The 2014 Farm Bill allowed pilot programs in some states for industrial hemp production and prohibited production on tribal lands. The new farm bill language allows hemp production in any state, for any use, including cannabinoid extraction, and opens up production opportunities for Native American tribes, as well.
But, Time is Running Short
With a deadline of December 21st, Washington threatening a shutdown, and scrambling for funds to build a wall, the bill is running short on time to receive approval before 2019. The House and Senate have passed the law, but predicting the President's actions is nearly impossible. Should the bill pass and receive the final approval from the President, hemp, and therefore, CBD will be completely legal as of January 1, 2019, for all states and all residents of the United States.
This would be a huge step for the industry, and we have no idea how things are going to change. New regulations on CBD products will be put in place, presumably more testing will be required, prices may rise, and we’ll likely be able to buy CBD products at stores across the country. Will there be an age minimum? Will CBD driving laws be put in place? Will insurance start covering CBD products?
There are lots of changes on the way, so make sure to stay up to date with Leafbuyer for all your cannabis needs.