On December 20th, 2018, President Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill into law. The United States Agricultural Act (better known as the “Farm Bill”) is a piece of legislation that is passed approximately every five years, and essentially outlines U.S. policies for food and agriculture. In recent years, the Farm Bill has been particularly significant because of its stance on industrial hemp, cannabis, and CBD.
The 2014 Farm Bill was the first piece of American legislation that defined industrial hemp as different than marijuana, and authorized Universities and state Departments of Agriculture to research and cultivate industrial hemp (i.e. the parts of the cannabis sativa plant that have a concentration of THC no higher than 0.3%). Though the 2014 Farm Bill allowed for the cultivation of industrial hemp under extremely narrow parameters, it nonetheless opened the door for hemp use and helped destigmatized public understanding of hemp. The 2018 Farm Bill expanded upon the progress made in the 2014 Bill even more. Perhaps the most significant change is that it legalized industrial hemp and its derived products on a federal level. Now, hemp is not limited to being grown for strictly research purposes. That is, hemp can be imported, grown domestically, and transferred across state lines for commercial and other uses. There are also no restrictions on the cultivation, uses, or sale of hemp-derived products including paper, fibers, and CBD/CBD oil. Hemp and its related products are now regulated by the Department of Agriculture and are no longer considered schedule 1 substances by the Drug Enforcement Agency. It is important to remember that hemp production is still highly regulated by the Department of Agriculture and must contain less than a 0.3% concentration of THC.
The legalization of hemp-derived products under the 2018 Farm Bill has great implications for various hemp-related industries, particularly CBD. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a chemical compound derived from hemp. In 2017, sales of consumer CBD products were as high as $350 million. Now that CBD is no longer considered a schedule 1 substance, sales are projected to total more than $1 billion by 2020. However, details surrounding the legality of CBD are still somewhat complex and are important to be aware of. For one, each state must make up its own regulatory framework. Though CBD use is completely legal in most states, Idaho, Nebraska, and South Dakota still have CBD restrictions as of 2019. Moreover, it is important to keep in mind that CBD can also be derived from both marijuana and hemp, and that marijuana-derived CBD is still technically illegal. Thus, one must be mindful of such regulations when cultivating, using, and/or selling CBD. Furthermore, it is worth noting that the 2018 Farm Bill expands upon other notable CBD-related issues that were introduced in the 2014 Farm Bill. The 2018 Bill continues CBD and hemp research efforts by extended the conditions under which research can be conducted. Hemp farmers have also been granted the same rights as other farmers, as they are now protected under the Federal Crop Insurance Act.
By federally legalizing hemp products and mitigating regulations, the 2018 Farm Bill is a legislative landmark with regards to the future of CBD.