2018 Farm Bill: Exploring the New Potential of the U.S. Hemp & CBD Industry
2018 was a big year in the United States for the humble Cannabis sativa L. plant, more commonly known as marijuana or hemp. While many things in US politics have taken a backward turn over the past couple years, the legalization of cannabis in various forms has been moving at full steam ahead with more states legalizing medical marijuana, recreational cannabis use, and cannabidiol (CBD) to various degrees. The public view towards cannabis is rapidly changing, paving the way for this innovative industry to create new jobs, new tax revenue, and further the research into medical applications.
One of 2018’s biggest achievements in the world of cannabis was the 2018 farm bill, which opened up whole new possibilities for the versatile and sustainable hemp industry to plant its roots throughout the United States.
What exactly is the 2018 farm bill and what does it change?
Back in 2014, a bill passed allowing the legal cultivation of industrial hemp in some US states without a permit from the Drug Enforcement Administration though was what referred to as “Hemp Pilot Programs”. Essentially, this only protected cultivators registered under their state’s pilot programs to cultivate cannabis containing less than 0.3% THC. Though the bill was fairly restrictive, it was still a big step in commercial hemp production.
When the bill was due to expire in 2018, this left many hemp farmers wondering what their future may hold. The 2014 farm bill expired in September of 2018, leaving over a month of uncertainty before the November elections. A preliminary version of the 2018 farm bill failed to pass, exasperating the situation even further.
Luckily for the hemp industry, there was a light at the end of the tunnel as the final version of the 2018 farm bill was passed later in the year, not only protecting the farmers who were already cultivating hemp but paving the way for the hemp industry to grow and flourish as never before!
The 2018 farm bill re-legalized the commercial and agricultural production of hemp in the entire US after being banned for more than 80 years by reclassifying hemp as excluded from marijuana under Schedule 1 of the CSA. Individual states will still be able to regulate the production of hemp and are required to submit plans to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) for review and approval.
What is the difference between hemp and marijuana?
Taxonomically speaking, hemp and marijuana are the same plant known scientifically as Cannabis sativa L. The difference according to the law between the two is that hemp is classified as Cannabis sativa L. plants which contain no more than 0.3% by weight of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the psychoactive substance known for giving you the high feeling associated with cannabis use.
What this means for hemp-derived CBD oil
One of the biggest impacts the 2018 farm bill could have is on the widespread availability of hemp-derived CBD oil, the new wonder supplement made from another compound found in both hemp and marijuana, cannabidiol.
CBD has been in the spotlight for showing a wealth of promise in the medical field, said to help alleviate symptoms of several different physical and mental conditions. However, while hemp-derived CBD oil is now legal on a federal level, the state-by-state legality remains somewhat murky with many states still imposing bans and the FDA restricting its use in food and supplements.
The potential effects of hemp legalization on commercial industries and the environment
Though CBD’s future remains unclear, there are several other industries poised to benefit from the legalization of hemp. Hemp is an incredibly sustainable and high-yield crop with a plethora of uses, opening a world of new possibilities for several industries.
Most hemp-derived products are renewable, biodegradable, and can be used for anything from clothing, food, medicine, and paper products to alternatives to plastics and fuel! A report presented to Congress in 2017 showed that the global hemp market consists of over 25,000 products!
Hemp has the strongest plant fibers in the world, is resistant to rot, can grow in several types of soil, and naturally repels many weeds making it an easy crop to grow throughout the US regardless of growing conditions. A single acre of hemp can produce 4 times the amount of pulp for paper products as an acre of trees and twice as much oil as peanuts. Hemp was used as an alternative to nylon and many other fabrics before it was made illegal.
Hemp as an alternative to plastic could be a much-needed solution to the growing problem of single-use plastics throughout the globe. As more states are passing laws restricting the use of single-use plastics, the need for a biodegradable alternative is more pressing than ever before.
Finally, the increased production of hemp is bound to increase jobs, helping boost the US economy in an era where economic woes are a top concern of many. We can only hope the full legalization of all cannabis will be following in hemp’s footsteps over the coming years. Stay tuned with Hemper for upcoming updates.
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