Fly-over States Cash In: The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 May Mean a Boost in Agricultural Prosperity

Man examines leaves in a hemp field

Those involved in the already booming hemp industry have their fingers crossed as federal legalization gets closer and closer to reality. There is finally a new Hemp Bill that will actually make a difference in our society. The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 would bring our Nation back the good old days when industrial hemp was one of the leading agricultural crops in the United States. In 1850, the state of Kentucky alone was producing more than 40,000 tons of hemp each year. We were using hemp for paper, clothing, plastic, construction materials, and even food. 

Think of all of the different industries that had to adapt to the prohibition of cannabis and industrial hemp. The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 is the first step toward reviving our nation’s once-thriving agricultural crop and bringing regulation to an industry that is in dire need of compliance.  

What is The Hemp Farming Act of 2018? 

The Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, has been a proponent of agricultural hemp since The Agricultural Act of 2014. This bill allowed states and institutions of higher education to grow hemp for conducting research and to test pilot hemp programs. After watching Kentucky’s Industrial Hemp Research Program very closely, McConnell was pleased with the pilot’s progress and accomplishments. This led him to support The Hemp Farming Act of 2018. 

McConnell recently announced he will introduce legislation to declassify industrial hemp as a schedule 1 substance under The Hemp Farming Act of 2018. This is a bill that is designed to bring back the agricultural wealth of industrial hemp in several industries, including construction, plastic, paper, clothing, cosmetics, and even the automotive industry. While the legalization of industrial hemp is the backbone of this bill, there are some strict, but necessary, compliance regulations that come with it. 

Definition of The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 

“The Congress finds that industrial hemp is a non-narcotic agricultural commodity that is used in tens of thousands of legal and legitimate products.” 

Above is the Section 2. Finding of The Hemp Farming Act of 2018. Simplified, the finding means industrial hemp would no longer be considered a schedule 1 drug. However, the bill continues and states that the term ‘marijuana’ does not include industrial hemp or research hemp. It also states, under the definition of industrial hemp, that all industrial hemp must have less than 0.3% of delta-9 THC on a dry weight basis 

Other Contingencies to the Term Industrial Hemp:  

  • The production, storage, distribution, and use of industrial hemp must be lawful under the state law or tribal jurisdiction.  
  • Any person/persons responsible for production, storage, and distribution of industrial hemp must submit their namesperiod of time that their current license allows them to operate, and any information pertaining to each location where the above conduct is authorized to occur.  
  • The term industrial hemp does not include any plant that has been bred to increase the percentage of delta-9 THC above the specified limit of 0.3% THC.  

The bill delves into the difference between industrial hemp and research hemp. Research hemp is only permitted to be used in scientific, medical, or industrial research. Unlike industrial hemp, research hemp is allotted to have more than 0.3% THC but must be less than 0.6% THC on a dry weight basis. The most important difference between research hemp and industrial hemp is that research hemp can never be used as a commodity.  

Compliance Regulations of The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 

The Hemp Farming Act of 2018, under Section 4. Administrative Inspections, states that any land or warehouses where industrial and research hemp is produced, stored, distributed, or used will be required to allow reoccurring inspections to ensure compliance with the requirements of this Act. Similar to how certain states regulate their recreational marijuana, industrial hemp will now need to follow similar rules as more and more checks and balances are put in place.  

Along with passing regular compliance checks, The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 also states that this bill does not alter any provisions of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. This simply states that all industrial hemp products must not contain any unapproved ingredients, adulterated content, or misbranded drug or food content. 

What to Expect 

The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 would be a major step for the federal government and cannabis. So far, this bill has not been presented to the Senate, but it is in the process of being reviewed by multiple subcommittees.  The bill was first introduced in the House in July 2017. A year later, it is safe to say that this bill should be introduced to the Senate sometime soon. Alterations will, most likely, be made and more detailed regulations will be added the Act. However, as long as industrial hemp is declassified as a schedule 1 drug, then The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 is a win.  

Stay informed on The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 and what this means for the world of cannabis, here