The 2018 Farm Bill [Comprehensive Guide for CBD]
In a country as large as the United States of America, it might seem a wonder that everything manages to run smoothly. Crops are grown, processed and shipped to supermarkets, where all the products are ready for your consumption. With this much ease, you’ve probably never paid a thought to the processes that land food on your plate.
However, before farmers can even begin thinking about what to plant, the government needs to make a few decisions in its Farm Bill, a piece of legislation that is updated every five years.
This year’s farm bill, the aptly named 2018 United States Farm Bill, is pretty similar to previous bills in a lot of ways, with one key exception – it changes hemp farming forever.
Let’s take a look at the 2018 Farm Bill and what it means for cannabis and hemp production, as well as what it means for the legality of CBD oil across the U.S.
What Exactly is the 2018 Farm Bill?
Before we can look into its impacts, it is essential to understand what the Farm Bill is.
In a country as massive and widespread as the USA, it is necessary for the government to pass legislation dictating the processes, requirements, farming grants and even nutritional policy of the entire country. This is to ensure that food producers across the country, in all 50 states, can conform to the same standard and work from the same framework.
This important legislation can include, deciding what kind of farming grants should be awarded, such as the monumental Corn Subsidies awarded by Franklin Delano Roosevelt during the Great Depression.
Additionally, the USA’s nutritional policy is also decided in this bill, as it allows the government to tie together its citizens’ dietary needs and the expectation of supply; if the government is clear on what it wants its citizens to eat in a given five year period, it can then decide what foods to subsidize and include.
The 2018 United States Farm Bill ran into a few problems in its first introduction in May 2018, as it was voted down. The primary issue for the Democrat opposition was due to proposed changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), wherein low-income families are entitled up to $125 per week in food stamps.
Interestingly, there were 30 Republicans who voted against this bill as well, due to the built-in allowance for liberal immigration policy – for many farms and food production facilities in the south of the country, a steady flow of immigrant, seasonal workers is of paramount importance.
Additionally, one of the primary problems that were initially debated regarding the Farm Bill is the inclusion of aspects of the Hemp Farming Act, which does something monumental for the cannabis and hemp industry – it legalizes hemp completely.
Let’s take a closer look at what this Act does and how it is going to affect the cannabis community.
What is the Hemp Farming Act of 2018?
The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 was initially proposed in March 2018 by Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader. This bill sought to move hemp from the Schedule I controlled substances list and instead make it a regular agricultural commodity.
Not only is this Act itself a huge leap forward for cannabis acceptance, as well as a significant step in the direction of total legalization, but it was actually rushed through the Senate and allowed to be passed without debate – invoking Rule 14, the Senate approved this bill to jump straight to passing on the Senate floor without months of the customarily expected debating.
Before we all start getting extremely excited, however, it is essential to understand the distinctions between the hemp mentioned in the Hemp Farming Act, and the hemp that we know.
The Hemp Farming Act refers specifically to industrial hemp, requiring it to contain less than 0.3% of the psychoactive cannabinoid THC. This means that the only type of hemp that has been legalized is the type used in industrial textile use – hemp is used for insulating houses, making paper, and in all manner of industrial and construction materials.
This bill shifts the production of industrial hemp away from a controlled substance, instead making it a regular good that any commercial farmer can grow and trade – as long as their specific state “opts in” to commercial hemp cultivation, and as long as the crops are grown under a state plan approved by the USDA. (In other words, hemp is still a regulated crop).
Previously, you needed to have special pilot research authorization to be able to grow any industrial hemp, with licenses being strictly monitored – in some states no licenses were given out at all due to stringent state laws. With the passing of the Hemp Farming Act, farmers across the country will have much greater access to this wide-ranging agricultural commodity.
You might think this isn’t especially useful for marijuana smokers or those interested in full cannabis legalization, but it is actually hugely significant.
By the federal government approving hemp as a regular commodity, cannabis in general has progressed one level towards the path of complete acceptance. Additionally, more and more people are going to be able to benefit from legalized hemp goods, such as nutritionally-rich hemp seeds and the useful textiles made from hemp.
Of course, however, this piece of legislation will be monumental for the CBD oil industry, as industrial hemp has been one of the primary crops used to make these therapeutic, “legal” products that are available to customers all over the USA.
What Does The 2018 Farm Bill Mean for CBD?
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is the cannabis compound that many people seem to forget about. CBD is currently legal in some states and countries as a food additive, and it is possible to purchase it at health stores across the country. Many people pick up CBD for the purpose of medicating themselves and treating certain symptoms, but it can sometimes be hard to find strong enough CBD in good enough supply to rely on.
With the passing of the 2018 United States Farm Bill, however, this might all change. With the full legalization of industrial hemp, we can not only use hemp for our industrial and construction purposes, but our CBD as well. CBD is a cannabinoid that is located within Hemp plants but is not bred out in the same way that THC is when trying to make legal hemp. This means that many strains of industrial, now fully legalized, hemp are rich in CBD.
With the full legalization of hemp, CBD manufacturers are not only going to have increased legitimacy in their profession, but also have a massively increased amount of supply. There are going to be a considerable number of farmers switching their crops to producing hemp, especially as the market begins to expand. With more supply comes more manufacturing demand, after all.
2018 saw an almost 25,000 total average increase in hemp planting according to the USDA, an increase of over 137% compared to the previous year. With the ability to produce it without meeting draconian trial requirements, farmers all across the country will now begin seriously considering swapping their crops to hemp.
These farmers will be able to start selling their hemp to paper mills, construction firms and even, of course, CBD extractors that produce CBD oil. This all-important latter change means that the price of CBD for the consumer will probably go down – with an increase of supply of the base good comes lowering prices and thus, lower costs for CBD users.
It is important to remember one thing, though – just because hemp is now legal doesn’t mean that marijuana, or even CBD, is legal as well.
Does the U.S. Farm Bill Mean that CBD is Completely Legal Now?
With all this excitement about hemp being legalized as an agricultural commodity, you might think that CBD is now completely legal as a medicine. Unfortunately, this is still not quite the case.
It is important to remember that, while the hemp plants that CBD is produced from are now going to be legal (under appropriate conditions and guidelines), and there are going to be plenty more hemp farmers nationwide, this doesn’t mean that CBD is now legal as a medicine.
In fact, since CBD has been used in clinical trials during the FDA approval of Epidiolex (a CBD-based drug for epilepsy), CBD is not allowed to be marketed as a “dietary supplement.” Legally, this puts potential CBD manufacturers between a proverbial rock and a hard place as they’re not allowed to market their products as medicines, but also not allowed to market them as supplements.
In other words, the ball is in the FDA’s court as to how strictly they want to enforce policy on the sale of CBD oil (and other CBD products) that are devised from legal industrial hemp plants. According to a recent article by CNBC News however, it appears that they are leaning on the more “lenient” side of things. In fact, Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has claimed that the FDA is considering “pathways” that would allow for the legal sale of all sorts of CBD products – from oils and edibles to foods and CBD-infused beverages.
Whatever ends up panning out, with the passing of the new U.S. Farm Bill there are going to be many more hemp farmers across the country, and likely many more high-quality CBD oil products to choose from. Though CBD and even marijuana itself are still in a strange legal position at the moment, the federal government has acknowledged the usefulness and agricultural value in hemp, which of course is a good thing.
Lastly (and possibly most importantly), the new U.S. Farm Bill has removed hemp from the DEA’s list of Controlled Substances, which will hopefully open up non-psychoactive forms of cannabis (i.e. CBD oil) to adequate research studies.
Final Thoughts on the 2018 Farm Bill
Though it might not seem like it right now, CBD – and cannabis in general – is that little bit closer to complete acceptance. With legislation like the 2018 United States Farm Bill, it is important to remember not just the effects they have right now, but the impact they might have in years’ time.
In this case, this might be the moment we look back upon in many years time when cannabis is completely legalized and think – “This was it; this was the tipping point.” Though it may not mean a lot for those current CBD users out there, the passing of the newly updated U.S. Farm Bill and the Hemp Farming Act does at least inspire a little bit of hope.