Much of the 2018 Farm Bill's language has still not been made public but one aspect of the bill is getting a lot of people talking: the expected legalization of industrial hemp.
Hemp, despite its lack of THC -- the compound in marijuana that gets you high -- fell under the Controlled Substances Act because of its (federally) illegal sister plant. As awareness of the plant's benefits have become popular in recent years, politicians are working to release hemp from its illegal drug association.
The cannabis industry is already booming. With marijuana legal in several states and cannabis's non-psychoactive CBD the hottest new supplement, the Farm Bill provision would open up the industry to seemingly endless possibilities.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has been outspoken in his support of hemp legalization and assured his supporters that CBD, regarded for its calming and anti-inflammatory effects, will see a big benefit.
“Thanks for your hard work, @SenPatRoberts,” tweeted McConnell, “for our farmers, rural communities and all Americans. Pleased that my provision to legalize industrial hemp is included in the Farm Bill.”
Interest in CBD and industrial hemp which has nutrition benefits as well as applications in personal care, textiles, even as an alternative to plastic, is being hailed as the modern-day Gold Rush. And if the federal farm bill fully removes restrictions, the CBD and hemp industry could create thousands of American jobs and significant revenue for farmers and manufacturers. In 2018 alone, U.S. farmers planted more than 77,000 acres of hemp -- three times as much as in 2017.
Under the Farm Bill regulations, hemp would be removed from the controlled substance list and see regulatory oversight from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Individual states would decide whether to follow federal guidelines or enact their own regulations on hemp.
The Farm Bill, which was supposed to be signed this week, is still pending, pushed back after the death of former President George H.W. Bush, which shut down government agencies yesterday.