As we approach the end of 2022, we will reach the expiration of the 2018 Farm Bill, a law that made drastic changes to the hemp industry. Let’s dive into the 2018 Farm Bill, and what benefits does it provide for the hemp industry?
What is the 2018 Farm Bill?
The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, better known as the Farm Bill, expanded on the 2014 Farm Bill. It was passed to help farmers, but it also impacted hemp; not only did the federal government legalize hemp, but it also provided regulations that allowed for its sale, cultivation, and manufacture. As long as the hemp grown contains less than 0.3% THC, a psychoactive compound, and is grown according to state and federal standards, it is legal.
How does it Benefit the Hemp Industry?
There are many different provisions within the 2018 Farm Bill that handle different aspects of agriculture, and it has multiple benefits for the hemp industry; we’ve outlined the three main ones.
Definition of Hemp
One of the largest benefits of the 2018 farm bill was the reclassification of hemp. Since the Marijuana Tax Act of 1967, hemp has been lumped under the definition of cannabis, which made its usage and production illegal. When the Controlled Substances Act of 1971 was passed, it took the definition of hemp from the Marijuana Tax Act, which is why the plant continued to be illegal despite its trace amounts of THC.
With the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, the plant was removed from the controlled substances list, and its definition was separated from that of cannabis.
Industrial Hemp is grown for commercial reasons, like textiles, composites, and paper. With the passing of the 2018 Farm bill, the bill allows for a wider range of cultivation for the plant. This ultimately led to an increase in the industrial hemp industry and a greater need for its cultivation, which made room for more individuals to join the expanding industry.
Hemp is labeled as an agricultural commodity within the Farm Bill, which makes it a mainstream crop. For hemp farmers, this label means that they now have protections under the Federal Crop Insurance Act, which can help farmers facing crop losses.
The Farm Bill also gave space for states to regulate hemp production, as long as they followed federal guidelines. For states that hadn’t yet legalized hemp, the federal government offered legal options for farmers within the states to apply for growing licenses.
Is Hemp Legality in Jeopardy?
As of right now, the terms of the 2018 Farm Bill still apply. The Farm Bill is updated every four years, and the current one isn’t set to expire until 2023. Then, a new version of the bill will be signed off.
As of right now, there isn’t much information available about the provisions within the 2023 Farm bill. There have been congressional discussions, and work has definitely begun on the bill, but lawmakers have not set policies yet.
Some of the potential policies and changes are:
- An increase in the less than 0.3% THC content
- Eliminating Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) lab testing requirements
- Marketing of hemp-derived CBD
- Lowering fees for hemp testing and sampling
- Removing background check barriers
There is still a large amount of work needed to fully develop the 2023 Farm Bill, and we won’t know what policies and provisions lawmakers settle on until its passage.