After a long history of suppression due to over-extending laws, restrictions on hemp farming and CBD sales are finally being lifted thanks to the 2018 farm bill. The new bill contains brief, yet impactful hemp-related language found in the 807-page document that we highlight below.
In this article, we take a quick look back at hemp's legal history, dive into the new hemp regulations contained in the 2018 farm bill, and discuss their impact on the whole hemp industry from farmers, to manufacturers, to retailers, to consumers.
In 1970, the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) was passed, making hemp illegal to grow without a permit in the USA due to its relation to marijuana. While importing hemp products from abroad to the USA was allowed assuming a zero-THC tolerance level, all legal hemp farming ceased that year.
Thanks largely in part to media coverage surrounding CBD's effective use as a treatment for childhood epilepsy, 2013 marked the next important point in hemp history. In that year Colorado farmers began growing hemp under the veil of legal cannabis in the state to feed the growing demand for hemp-sourced CBD oil.
Fast forward a year and the 2014 Farm Bill introduced legislation that allowed states to license growers to produce hemp with limited amounts of the psychoactive cannabinoid Delta-9 THC. This bill brought with it a slowly growing number of participating states and allowed for the growing CBD industry to operate within a legal grey area, despite hemp and CBD oil still being considered illegal at the federal level.
Under the 2014 farm bill, the hemp-fueled CBD industry exploded. Growers in participating states and abroad provided plant material for manufacturers to process and ultimately be distributed by retailers. This growth was not without friction though as states and the FDA cracked down on local and online CBD retailers.
Despite CBD products becoming widely available online and locally, the dated CSA still classified these products as illegal. This forced businesses across the industry into a 'high risk' category and removing access from federal systems like banking, credit card processing, advertising platforms and more.
The hemp-related content of the newest Farm Bill is small compared to the entirety of the wide-reaching, 800+ page legislation that focuses on everything that goes into putting food on our plates. While small in length, the new hemp regulations found in the bill are significant in their impact.
With the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, the dated laws, grey areas, state and tribal jurisdiction, and farming practices are addressed. The US Hemp Roundtable offers a summary of the hemp-specific regulations in the bill which we've outlined below:
While these new regulations bring hemp into a much more 'standard' situation when it comes to commerce, it's important to understand the hemp industry pre-2018 Farm Bill to see just how far these new laws bring us. Specific to the CBD industry, these changes are massive.
There is no doubt that the future of hemp and hemp-derived CBD products looks extremely bright. Industry outlets forecast continued exponential growth, and this bill will no doubt fuel that fire.
While the steps forward that the 2018 Farm Bill brings with it are widely celebrated, the hemp industry remains a complex. There are two main areas of focus that the 2018 Farm Bill does not address:
The first area is that the new bill gives State and Tribal territories space to regulate the hemp industry. This means that while the bill federally clears hemp, local territories may choose to restrict the industry. At the time of writing, there is State-level confusion and new laws are being passed. If you wish to support hemp in your state, the Hemp Roundtable offers a State Action portal where you can take part.
The second area is around regulation of consumable and topical products like CBD supplements. Now that the DEA is out of the business of regulating hemp, the FDA retains authority in this space. As of the time of writing, the FDA's position on CBD is unsettled.
Despite these unresolved areas, hemp and CBD sales continue to grow nationwide. Big Sky Botanicals is committed to staying up-to-date with hemp-related regulations. For more information, please visit our compliance and safety page.
Originally published: December 17, 2018 | Last Updated: March 12, 2019
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