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2018 Farm Bill Could Legalize Industrial Hemp in USA

The Senate version of the 2019 Farm Bill has the potential to legalize the cultivation of hemp on an industrial scale in the United States. This would be a massive victory for the hemp industry and its advocates. According to Brian Furnish, president of the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, it would be fair to term it as a big day for hemp.

The initial bill sponsored by Senate Republican majority leader Mitch McConnell has an amendment that seeks to legalize hemp. In its current form, the “Hemp Farming Act of 2018,” if passed by Congress will legalize the cultivation of industrial hemp across the United States. This will also make all products made from hemp such as CBD oil accessible to everyone.

If it becomes law, the bill will bar the Drug Enforcement Administration and other regulatory agencies from pursuing producers and consumers of hemp.

However, the new beginning can only be realized if the bill can surmount several obstacles in its way. The bill does not only address hemp but has some other provisions unrelated to hemp and then, there is also the small matter of the difference between the Senate bill and the house version of it, which does not contain a reference to hemp.

 

2014 vs. 2018: NEW FARM BILL BUILDS ON PARTIAL LEGALIZATION

The ban on hemp started in the early twentieth century when it lumped together with marijuana due to both plants belonging to the cannabis family. The reprieve came in the form of the 2014 Farm Bill which allowed states to formulate their own rules for the cultivation of hemp for state-run research programs.

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The programs initiated by the different states range in scope from small-scale farmers to universities under strict conditions for research purposes. The limited number of farmers and the conditions imposed have enabled only 25,000 acres of farmland to be committed to hemp cultivation across the United States. The frustration farmers have endured from the Bureau of Reclamation and the legal challenges faced by CBD Oil vendors at both the state and federal level have stifled any meaningful growth in the cultivation of the plant.

The state programs have experienced considerable uptake only in states that have more receptive such as Kentucky and Colorado.

 

indoor hemp farm

 

HOW THE 2019 FARM BILL WOULD LEGALIZE HEMP

The amendment that was proposed by Senator McConnell would enable the 2019 Farm Bill to revise the illegality of hemp. It would essentially remove the plant from the list of banned substances and bring to a close the debate around its relationship with marijuana. This would effectively remove it from the DEA’s watch list.

If the bill is passed any product made from hemp would also be legal. This would include CBD oil, CBD isolate, hemp oil and all other extracts of this plant based on the THC content which should not exceed 0.3 percent. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the chemical found in both marijuana and hemp since they both belong to the cannabis family. THC is the ingredient that accounts for marijuana’s psychoactive “high” effects.

This would elevate hemp to the same status as any other crop such as corn or soya and it would open up large-scale cultivation as well as smallholder farmers regulated by agriculture departments within individual states.

 

BIPARTISAN SUPPORT FOR HEMP BUT CONFLICT OVER 2019 FARM BILL

The legalization of hemp is still in limbo because the bill’s passage in the Senate does not guarantee that it will become law. The bipartisan approach in the Senate when the 2019 Farm Bill was passed marked unprecedented unity of purpose by both parties.  The ensuing hurdle is that the bill presented in the House of Representatives does not include the same amendment like the one in the Senate.

It is imperative that both houses of Congress agree on the amendments before the bill is signed by the president. The Senate and the House will, therefore, have to form a “Conference Committee” to resolve the variations between the two versions. The committee, made up of members from both parties will then discuss the 2019 Farm Bill and produce a final version that addresses concerns from all ends.

The hemp industry is hopeful that with the backing of Senator McConnell, who commands a lot of respect across the aisle, the two houses are likely to take a united stand and pass the bill.

The enthusiasm is evident among hemp enthusiasts but Furnish warns that the intricate nature of politics in Washington may derail the momentum. For example, tucked somewhere in the House version of the bill is the issue of Food Stamps. This section has proposals to reduce the number of people eligible for Food Stamps. This program is controversial and disagreements over the proposals may lead to the whole bill being scuttled. That would jeopardize the progress that has been achieved so far with regard to hemp legalization.

The hemp fraternity, in general, is very optimistic about the possibility that the amendment to the 2019 Farm Bill will lead to a positive outcome. However, some advocates want hemp’s legalization to be considered alongside that of cannabis. Grow Hemp Colorado’s Veronica Carpio, says that a lot of people have served jail time because of marijuana possession while none have gone to prison because of hemp. She, therefore, advocates for both plants to be considered simultaneously so that growers of both plants can profit.

 

HEMP LEGALIZATION IS CLOSER THAN EVER TO REALITY

The hemp industry is hopeful that the two houses can reach a consensus based on the important aspects of the bill which touch on social and agricultural programs that attract bipartisan support. It is expected that if the bill is passed then-President Donald Trump is more likely to sign it into law.

It has been argued that in case the Farm bill doesn’t pass, hemp enthusiast can still hope for a different bill that can address hemp specifically. Hemp advocates have called on supporters to push their representatives to support McConnell’s amendments.

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