Written by: Kit O'Connell
Thanks to an amendment to the 2018 Farm Bill, industrial hemp could soon be fully legal from coast to coast.
Sen. Mitch McConnell originally introduced a stand-alone hemp legalization bill earlier this year, which then picked up support from both Democratic and Republican senators. Since then, the bill was incorporated into the omnibus 2018 Farm Bill, a piece of must-pass legislation.
Indeed, industrial hemp has never been closer to total legalization since the U.S. government originally made it illegal almost a century ago.
WHY WE NEED HEMP LEGALIZATION IN THE 2018 FARM BILL
Currently, growing industrial hemp is only legal in the United States for research purposes.
A previous version of the Farm Bill, passed in 2014, allowed for this partial legalization. Over 25,000 acres of hemp are currently grown in the U.S., including over 3000 acres in Kentucky where all of Ananda Hemp's products are grown. And thousands of people have discovered the amazing healing benefits that hemp-derived CBD oil offers as a nutritional supplement.
Experts agree that CBD oil produced under these hemp research programs is already legal for you to buy and use. Even so, hemp growers and the hemp industry have suffered because this beneficial plant remains in a legal gray area. One grower in Montana even had to fight the federal government for the right to water her hemp plants, which were fully legal under her state program.
Consumers suffer too, because hemp and hemp products are harder to get. Hemp can do so much more than just CBD oil, from making great paper to a sustainable, healthy building material for homes. If hemp were fully legal, we'd no longer need to import hemp for applications like these.
WILL THE 2018 FARM BILL LEGALIZE HEMP?
Under the Senate version of the Farm Bill, every state would be free to grow hemp and regulate it like any other crop. Native American tribes would also be able to grow hemp if they choose.
The hemp amendment would officially remove hemp and all hemp products, including CBD from the Drug Enforcement Administration's list of "Controlled Substances." There would no longer be any remaining question about the legality of CBD. Hemp growers and hemp creators would no longer face barriers from the federal government. Even the banking industry, which currently struggles with the lingering stigma around hemp, would be more likely to support people working with the plant.
Unfortunately, the House version of the Farm Bill doesn't mention hemp. This means both senators and representatives will gather in a "Conference Committee" to hash out the differences between the bill. With so many powerful senators like McConnell supporting hemp, we're optimistic that this amendment will make it into the final version and become law.
WHAT'S NEXT FOR HEMP LEGALIZATION?
Congress is already moving to eliminate the differences between the two versions of the farm bill. The 2018 Farm Bill is a piece of must-pass legislation. The conference committee met for the first time today and must come to a conclusion by September 30. After that, the president will quickly sign the 2018 Farm Bill into law. Whether hemp is a part of that final version is still up in the air.
One piece of good news? The House of Representatives picked their conference committee members and Rep. James Comer from Kentucky, one of hemp's most passionate advocate, will be an important part of the process.
The U.S. Hemp Roundtable reported, "As the final Farm Bill is reconciled, it is comforting to know that Rep. Comer will be on hand to support the Senate's language which would permanently legalize hemp."
We hope you'll get involved and voice your support for hemp! There will be many ways to get in involved in the coming days to ensure hemp becomes legal nationwide.
The Roundtable offers an easy form to contact your lawmakers to ask them to pass a hemp-friendly farm bill. Please stay tuned for more updates on this important moment for legal hemp in America.