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Jennifer Grebow is editor-in-chief of Nutritional Outlook.
If the bipartisan Hemp Farming Act of 2018 passes, industrial hemp, as well as hemp CBD, will be regulated like a regular agricultural crop and will no longer be listed on Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.
Updated April 16, 2018, 1:53 PST, with quote from CV Sciences:
The new Hemp Farming Act of 2018 officially debuted on the Senate floor yesterday. On April 12, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) introduced the bipartisan bill that would, if passed, see industrial hemp regulated as an agricultural crop and remove it from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.
The predecessor 2014 Farm Bill, signed into law by President Obama, legalized the growing of hemp solely for research purposes-for instance, by state departments or universities. But the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 goes much further, classifying hemp ingredients (with THC levels under the 0.3% threshold) as an agricultural commodity and removing federal “roadblocks” to the growth of industrial hemp across the U.S. Accordingly, hemp formulated into food and beverages would be considered agricultural ingredients. The hemp phytocannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) would also be considered an agricultural commodity, said the lobbyist group U.S. Hemp Roundtable, which represents a coalition of hemp companies.
Hemp industry advocates strongly support the 2018 Hemp Farming Act. U.S. Hemp Roundtable said on its website that the bill’s authors “listened closely to farmers and the industry in drafting the legislation.” As a result, “the bill covers nearly every item from the U.S. Hemp Roundtable’s dream wish list,” it said. Those items include:
Senator McConnell was supported by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) in introducing the bill yesterday. A companion bill will be introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressman Jamie Comer (R-KY).
Grassroots hemp advocacy group Vote Hemp also expressed enthusiastic support for the bill, saying that it is “strongly poised to pass” in the 115th Congress. “If passed, the bill would remove roadblocks to the rapidly growing hemp industry in the U.S., notably by authorizing and encouraging access to federal research funding for hemp, and remove restrictions on banking, water rights, and other regulatory barriers the hemp industry currently faces,” the group said.
On the Senate floor yesterday, Senator McConnell said, “Today, with my colleagues, I am proud to introduce the bipartisan Hemp Farming Act of 2018, which will build upon the success of the hemp pilot programs and spur innovation and growth within the industry. By legalizing hemp and empowering states to conduct their own oversight plans, we can give the hemp industry the tools necessary to create jobs and new opportunities for farmers and manufacturers around the county.”
Senator Wyden added: “It is far past time for Congress to pass this commonsense, bipartisan legislation to end the outrageous anti-hemp, anti-farmer, and anti-jobs stigma that’s been codified into law and is holding back growth in American agriculture jobs and our economy at large. Hemp products are made in this country, sold in this country, and consumed in this country. Senator McConnell, our colleagues, and I are going to keep pushing to make sure that if Americans can buy hemp products at the local supermarket, American farmers can grow hemp in this country.”
Vote Hemp notes that in 2017 alone, under the authorization of the 2014 Farm Bill, 25,541 acres of industrial hemp were “lawfully cultivated” in 19 states. “To date, 34 states have defined industrial hemp as distinct and removed barriers to its production.” These states include Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.
A spokesperson from CV Sciences, a CBD pharmaceuticals and consumer products supplier based in Las Vegas, and a founding member of the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, told Nutritional Outlook: "This is a monumental step in the right direction for the future of hemp in the United States. Seeing such strong support from legislators on both sides of the aisle is encouraging for this once-controversial topic and proof that, once [people are] educated about the crop and the innovative products it can create, this is something that becomes a commonsense bill for those who are willing to listen and learn. Passage of this legislation will allow farmers and U.S. companies a true opportunity to operate freely and scale appropriately as the market continues to grow at rapid rates. We look forward to working with Senator McConnell, Senator Wyden, and all of the co-sponsors of this bill, in addition to the companion bill in the House, to ensure passage of this language so that farmers, processors, manufacturers, retailers, and consumers can all take full advantage of the enormous potential that hemp has to offer."
Also read:What’s Driving Hemp CBD Growth?Hemp Industries Association Sues DEA over Hemp Food IngredientsWill Hemp CBD’s Regulatory Controversy Help or Hurt Its Future as a Supplement Ingredient?5 Hemp CBD Research Areas for Further Supplement GrowthU.S. Hemp Food, Beauty Sales Climbed to $283 Million in 2015