Trump Signs Farm Bill, Legalizing Industrial Hemp

President Donald Trump - Industrial Hemp
Image: WhiteHouse.gov

U.S. President Donald Trump signed the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill) late last week and marked the occasion in a .. errr.. Trumpish way. Still, it was good news for the hemp sector.

Just prior to the event, President Trump announced his looming signature, accompanied by his rendition of “Green Acres” back in 2005.

The reaction to that aside, it was certainly a big day for industrial hemp in the country, which has been greatly restricted at a federal level for many decades. There was some wiggle room in the 2014 Farm Bill for the crop to be grown via research projects overseen by state departments of agriculture and universities. While more than 40 states enacted legislation under provisions provided in the 2014 Farm Bill, participants exposed themselves to a significant amount of legal and financial risk. 

Earlier this month, the U.S. Senate has gave the green light to the 2018 Farm Bill, which includes a provision for legalising industrial hemp at a federal level (Hemp Farming Act of 2018). It was then over to President Trump for his signature. While there was little doubt he would, you can never be too sure with this President.

“The significance of this law change should not be underemphasized,” said NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano. “This law marks the first change in the federal classification of the cannabis plant since it was initially classified as a schedule I controlled substance by Congress in 1970, and paves the way for the first federally-sanctioned commercial hemp grows since World War II.”

The Hemp Industries Association was elated with the news.

 “After decades of commitment and hard work by revolutionary pioneers and advocates, legalization of the extraordinarily versatile hemp crop as an agricultural commodity is finally upon us,” said Joy Beckerman, HIA Board President. “We are now experiencing the historic ushering in of true agricultural and industrial revolutions in the United States, and the HIA is poised and ready for both!”

But this doesn’t mean there’s now a hemp free-for-all in the eyes of the feds. States will need to submit plans to the United States Department of Agriculture for approval and will still have the option of banning the crop. 

Kentucky has wasted no time in moving ahead with its hemp industry, with Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles submitting his state’s plan to the USDA just hours after signing of the bill into law.

Kentucky is the home state of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who introduced the Hemp Farming Act of 2018.

Also following the signing, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released an announcement concerning its stance on products containing cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds – and the road ahead. It says it intends holding a public meeting so stakeholders can share their experiences. The input from that meeting will go towards making legal pathways for marketing such products “more predictable and efficient”.

“We’re committed to pursuing an efficient regulatory framework for allowing product developers that meet the requirements under our authorities to lawfully market these types of products,” said the FDA.