With the fortune of having hemp-loving Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in office, the 2019 Farm Bill may create a new wave of change in cannabis. In early December, the Senate and House passed a final version that includes the legalization of hemp. It could end up passed into law later this week, as we wait for final signature from President Trump.
This current bill piggybacks off of the 2014 Farm Bill, which was a hemp pilot program that was regulated on a state level. Passing the 2019 bill turns regulation over to the USDA and ultimately remove hemp from the Controlled Substances Act.
It’s a historical move that paves the way for legalization in the cannabis industry possibly happening sooner than later. Per a statement from McConnell, “The global market for hemp is estimated to consist of more than 25,000 products. According to one estimate, back in 2016, U.S. retail sales of hemp products totaled approximately $688 million.”
By moving away from importing hemp and legalizing the homegrown variety as early as January 1, 2019, we’re a step closer to seeing more, improved regulation in the CBD space.
So what exactly does the 2019 Farm Bill entail and how has it grown from its 2014 predecessor? Highlights from VoteHemp’s overview include:
- USDA is the sole federal regulatory agency overseeing hemp cultivation
- Native American tribes, excluded from the 2014 Farm bill, will now have agency
- A requirement that USDA conduct a study of state hemp agricultural pilot programs
- State programs will need to submit new regulations to USDA and follow minimum requirements if they want to remain primary regulators
- CBD will no longer be a controlled substance BUT it would still require FDA regulation as it cannot be sold as a dietary supplement
The language of the 2019 Farm Bill differed in the House and the Senate, thus the current need for polish before passing it. The Senate-passed version contains “hemp language” while the House version lacked it. Considering the discrepancy, hemp is defined by the entire plant—stem, extracts, seeds—and must contain less than 0.3% of THC.
“Hemp will be a bright spot for our future. It’s full of economic potential.”Senator McConnell’s statement is the perfect outlook on the beginning of the end of prohibition. After nearly a century of restrictions of the growth of a plant, the change in hemp’s legal status means more financial opportunities for cannabis expansion.
The next shift in legalization may depend on the president’s new attorney general nominee William Barr. A Republican lawyer and former Justice Department official, Barr is a point of a concern due to his past with the Bush administration. That means a connection of the “War on Drugs” and the constant public image that marijuana is tied to “criminals.”
His opinions may have shifted since the early ‘90s and the 2019 Farm Bill on the horizon may help to End the Stigma of cannabis.