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BIG NEWS AND WHAT WE’VE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR….
WHAT DOES THE FARM BILL DO?
ANALYSIS BY U.S. HEMP ROUNDTABLE GENERAL COUNSEL JONATHAN MILLER
Late in the evening of December 10, 2018, the 2018 Farm Bill House/Senate Conference Committee released its Conference Report. The 807-page document is nearly half a foot tall. Hemp is discussed in only a few handfuls of pages. But the impact on the industry is monumental:
The era of hemp prohibition is over. Hemp is now permanently removed from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). It is forever deemed an agricultural commodity, no longer mistaken as a controlled substance, like marijuana.
By redefining hemp to include its “extracts, cannabinoids and derivatives,” Congress explicitly has removed popular hemp products -- such as hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) -- from the purview of the CSA. Accordingly, the Drug Enforcement Administration no longer has any possible claim to interfere with the interstate commerce of hemp products. This should give comfort to federally regulated institutions -- banks, merchant services, credit card companies, e-commerce sites and advertising platforms -- to conduct commerce with the hemp and hemp product industry.
Hemp farmers now may finally access needed crop insurance and can fully participate in USDA programs for certification and competitive grants.
State and Tribal governments may impose separate restrictions or requirements on hemp growth and the sale of hemp products – however, they cannot interfere with the interstate transport of hemp or hemp products. We are hopeful that local and state officials will follow Congress’ lead, as well as the statements and resolutions of the World Health Organization and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that declare, after intense scientific scrutiny, that CBD is safe, non-toxic, and non-addictive.
The FDA continues to exercise jurisdiction over the regulation of ingestible and topical hemp products. We applaud the agency’s continued efforts to crack down on bad actors who undermine the industry through misguided marketing claims. And while we are concerned about non-binding statements made by the FDA that have led some state and local officials to question the legality of the retail sale of hemp-derived CBD, we are hopeful that we can work with the agency to clarify that CBD – which their own scientists concluded has no abuse potential and does not pose a risk to public health – should not be withheld from Americans who count on it for their health and wellness.