2018 Farm Bill

Changing the hemp narrative

2018 Farm Bill Opens Door for Industrial Hemp

The passing of the Agriculture Improvement Act (AKA The 2018 Farm Bill) finally put a long awaited end of hemp's probationary period. It is now legal to possess and even transport hemp across state lines. That said, it’s important to note that federal guidelines must be met in order to be clear of previous restrictions. Hemp must not contain more than .3% THC, otherwise, it will fall under the same regulatory limitations as marijuana. Also, there are strict regulations in place for growing hemp for personal or industrial usage. Even so, support and momentum for hemp continue to rise, assuring a promising future for this versatile, eco-friendly crop.

Update: The 2018 Farm Bill officially expired on October 1, 2023. On Nov. 16, 2023, President Biden signed into law the extension of this bill through September 2024. This extension allows for previsions to remain status quo until then.   

Why Was Hemp Considered Illegal?

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Imagine being incarcerated for years because a relative had committed a crime. When it comes to hemp and marijuana, a case could be made for this analogy. While both hemp (cannabis sativa) and marijuana are both strains of cannabis, hemp has hardly any THC and no psychoactive effects. Still, from both a legal and public perspective, these two plants have been joined at the hip for many years.

The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 initiated strict regulations regarding cultivating, possessing and transporting marijuana. While the law's initial intent was to halt recreational drug use, hemp was also buried in legislative red tape. For this reason, further research for industrial purposes was mostly abandoned. The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 officially banned all forms of Cannabis in the US.

Note: Hemp's cousin, marijuana, can be seen referred to in legal texts as "marihuana". However, the original Spanish spelling with the "j" is more commonly used now as it's easier for English speaking Americans to pronounce.

Historical Significance of the 2018 Farm Bill

President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized the first Farm Bill in 1933. This bill is typically reviewed and revised every 5 years. Since its introduction, this legislation has evolved and adapted to the current political climate. The 2018 Farm bill is a multi facetted document. As such, its approval was a considerable struggle considering how far apart demarcates and republicans stood on the issues. It covers a wide array of topics that include support for major commodity products like wheat, corn and soybeans. In addition, this bill delves into diverse issues like trade, nutrition assistance and rural development. And of course, it also addresses the elephant in the room; the legal status of hemp. 

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The Future of Hemp 

The passage of the 2018 Farm Bill has created diverse new markets for hemp. This extremely versatile plant can be used to produce a wide variety of products. These range from clothing fabrics, paper, eco-friendly plastic substitutes, ropes, and biofuel. Also, hempcrete, a greener alternative to concrete, is gaining popularity.

Thanks to the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp has been removed from the controlled substance list. As a result, industry growth is expected to explode world wide. According to ACS Laboratory, the global hemp industry is expected to rise from $1.8 billion to an eye-popping $16.2 billion by 2033. This growth will no doubt create great opportunities for those bold enough to invest in the future of hemp.
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