Hemp is now legal in USA
Hemp is now legal in USA

by, Tracey Roizman, DC

Amidst the frenzy of the 2018 holiday season, the federal government gave Americans a long-awaited gift in the form of the 2018 Farm Bill. The Bill represents a landmark legislative achievement in that it reclassified hemp from an illegal, Schedule I substance to an agricultural commodity. By so doing, it will help reverse decades of hemp prohibition that began in 1937 under the Marijuana Tax Act, and continued in 1970, under the Controlled Substances Act.

Given hemp’s broad appeal and almost limitless practical uses, this is game-changing news for everyone in the hemp business as well as anyone who currently uses or is a potential consumer of hemp products. While states can still regulate hemp and hemp-derived CBD, this new classification means that hemp is well on its way to going mainstream and will have significant impacts on the health and well-being of all Americans.


Fewer Old CBD Regulations… and Some New Ones

All this deregulation doesn’t mean that everyone can start growing hemp in their backyards. Hemp will continue to be a highly regulated crop. Also, the bill does not change the status of cannabis, which continues to be illegal on a federal basis but legal in the 33 states that have legalized it for medical purposes and the 10 states that have legalized it for general adult use.

But back to hemp, the federal government will now have shared regulatory control along with states, over the cultivation of hemp. State agriculture departments, together with their governors and law enforcement officials will be required to work together with the USDA to devise state-specific plans for regulating hemp production in their respective states. As well, hemp growers will be required to obtain federal licenses and must comply with applicable federal hemp laws. And, as before, industrial hemp is strictly defined by its THC content and must contain no more than 0.3% THC.


Federal Legalization of Hemp

Benefits For Hemp Growers and Producers

Previously, hemp cultivation was highly restricted, ostensibly for the purpose of studying market potential; however, the 2018 Farm Bill opens hemp cultivation by removing restrictions on the transport of hemp across state lines as well as restrictions on the sale of CBD and other hemp-derived products. Some predict that the opening of hemp for commercial cultivation will make it possible for family farms to prosper, thus invigorating the small-scale farming industry. Also, very importantly for farmers, hemp will be protected in times of crop failure via the Federal Crop Insurance Act. In short, this means that commercial hemp farming is set to take off.

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Benefits For CBD Users and Retailers

Support at the federal level will bring many consumers who were previously on the fence about CBD onboard. Likewise, retailers will feel more confident stocking CBD products or expanding their stock, in the knowledge that consumer demand will increase.

Research into the health benefits of CBD will gain momentum as the flow of funding sources opens and restrictions on the supply chain for medical grade CBD are removed. The 2018 Bill extends protections for hemp research set in place by the 2014 Bill, including hemp under the Critical Agricultural Materials Act and effectively acknowledging its inherent value to consumers as well as its potential economic benefits.
As research expands, our knowledge of the particular benefits of each of the over 120 individual cannabinoids, terpenes and other bioactive compounds in hemp, the majority of which are non-psychoactive, will deepen.

Its important to note; however, that amidst the many reasons to celebrate the 2018 Farm Bill, one thing the bill did not do was fully legalize CBD. While most hemp-derived products have been removed from the Controlled Substances Act and are no longer classified as Schedule I controlled substances, CBD continues to be categorized as such, with select exemptions for hemp that is manufactured in compliance with all federal and state regulations. Even CBD products that are produced from cannabis in states where cannabis is legal, are illegal in non-cannabis legalized states and cannot be transported across state lines.


Potential Markets for Other Hemp Products

The industrial hemp market encompasses hemp’s vast array of consumable and non-consumable uses. Hemp is a valuable food source and hemp seeds, which are loaded with protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, can be found in most mainstream grocery stores. Hemp fiber is used in the manufacture of building materials, clothing, and even as a source of biofuel. All told, the hemp industry is expected to reach $22 billion by 2022.


Environmental Benefits

Hemp gives back to the soil, air, and water it grows in by removing toxins, such as heavy metals and other contaminants. In this way, hemp can be used to restore land that has been contaminated through past industrial activity, a process known as phytoremediation.



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