The Hemp Farming Act is another victory in the world of cannabis. As of December 12, 2018, the Farm Bill passed through both houses of congress and is on its way to for full presidential approval. It is suspected that the Bill will be signed in the near future by the president of the United States. As cannabis and its many derivatives continue to lose their stigma and new and innovative uses are discovered, legal reform is essential to assure that industry can continue to flourish. The Hemp Farming Act aims to make clearer distinctions between hemp and other more well-known cannabis derivatives such as marijuana and CBD. Unlike these other common derivatives of the cannabis plant, smoking or consuming hemp does not have a psychoactive effect. Originally hemp was classified as a Schedule I drug by the United States federal government as per the Controlled Substances Act.  With a signature by President Trump, hemp will break free from its shackles of illegality once and for all. The Act not only provides a workable definition for hemp but it also will have impacts on both agriculture and non-agriculture industries.

What is Hemp?

 As per the Act, hemp is defined as ” the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.” Previously hemp was included in the definition of marijuana as per The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 under then president Nixon’s ground-breaking “War on Drugs” campaign . This classification caused the agricultural production of hemp to be classified as illegal and the resulting harvested hemp to be treated as an illegal drug.  The online resource  The Ministry of Hemp also provides a helpful outline of distinction between marijuana and hemp. It is important to note that unlike marijuana which has a high content of the psychoactive THC, hemp comparably has a high content of non-psychoactive CBD.

How does the Hemp Farming Bill Affect Agriculture?

The Hemp Farming Act was mainly to benefit those in the agricultural hemp industry. In short, the bill aims to legalize the farming and harvesting of hemp and provide a source of further regulation upon that activity. Hemp products previously available for sale in the US did not contain US grown hemp, but hemp from other countries such as China and Canada.

Will the Hemp Farming Bill Affect other Industries?

The Hemp Farming Bill will not only result in the legalization of growing hemp. With legalization of the agricultural production of hemp, the substituents contained in hemp with low concentrations of THC like CBD will now be rendered as legal. CBD is popular derivative of cannabis and is the non-psychoactive counterpart to THC. It’s popularity has increased rapidly due to its alleged health benefits for conditions such as anxiety and chronic seizures. While much research remains on CBD, and it’s therapeutic claims will be closely regulated, it’s potential both commercially and therapeutically are substantial.

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