After decades of prohibition, the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill finally heralds the end of federal hemp prohibition. The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, commonly referred to as the Farm Bill, contains several provisions relating to the often maligned cannabis variety, but perhaps none more notable than the removal of cannabis and cannabis derivatives containing less than .3 percent THC content from the Controlled Substances Act, where hemp had previously been included with marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance.

While the bill deals with a range of agricultural issues, its passage sets the stage for a federally legal industry for the first time since the brief abandonment of hemp prohibition during World War II. The measure  aligns hemp farmers with those growing other crops, bringing the industry under the purview of USDA oversight and granting access to much needed programs such as crop insurance and federal farming grants.

“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,” writes Jonathan Miller, general counsel to for the Hemp Roundtable in a summary of the bill.

Those convicted of drug felonies will be barred from legal hemp for ten years, with an exception for those already working in state-legal hemp operations.

“This definitive new federal law is going to revolutionize the market for hemp-derived products in America, while opening promising channels to make U.S. hemp companies players on the global stage. We welcome the move from the gray market into the light. Now that there is clear-cut guidance for legal sales of hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) products and allowing interstate commerce, American companies can move forward in confidence with domestically sourced hemp and development of cannabinoid products to help consumers seeking to enhance their natural wellness. For a hemp cannabinoid formulation company such as Boulder Botanical & Bioscience Laboratory, we’re setting the standard by strictly adhering to good manufacturing practices and transparent operations—and this recent news will only embolden our mission of delivering carefully formulated hemp products to retailers throughout the U.S.,” says Maruchy Lachance, co-founder and COO of Boulder Botanical & Bioscience Laboratory, in a press release.   

The bill replaces its 2014 predecessor, which granted states some leeway to create hemp pilot programs, provided farmers worked with a state department of agriculture, college or university. Under that measure, legal hemp markets flourished in several states that had allowed for them, but the latest iteration of the Farm Bill seems likely to usher in an era of expanded interstate commerce.

As of this writing, the bill was awaiting final signature from President Trump, though a veto seems unlikely given the widespread support seen in both houses of Congress.  

The Hemp Connoisseur