The 2018 Farm Bill

The 2018 Farm Bill was signed on December 20th, 2018, and went into effect January 1st, 2019. A new Farm Bill is written and signed every 5 years.

My goal is to explain section 12619 of the 2018 Farm Bill and its relation to the ever-growing cannabidiol (CBD) industry.

For starters, the three words that are incorrectly used interchangeably are hemp, marijuana, and cannabis. Hemp and marijuana are both species of plants within the cannabis family. Marijuana and hemp are very different in terms of looks and THC content.  Marijuana contains 15% THC, and hemp contains less than 0.3% THC. 

Backtracking a bit, the 2014 Farm Bill allowed the research for hemp plants for industrial use, if it is legal in that state. Although this was a good start, this same bill did not specify the difference between hemp and marijuana. Both plants were considered Schedule I substances under the Controlled Substances Act.

The 2018 Farm Bill clarifies that hemp and hemp products are now legal as long as the THC content is less than 0.3% and extracted from the Cannabis Sativa L Plant (hemp). The products that you are currently seeing in the market contain CBD that is extracted directly from Cannabis Sativa L plants. Additionally, the bill broadly defined the distinction between marijuana and hemp.

No, this does not mean you can grow hemp in your backyard for research and extraction. Before hemp can be grown industrially, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) must approve the plan and monitor production. This includes information about where it is grown, and the testing of its THC concentration. There are still many restrictions because marijuana is still considered a Schedule I drug.

This bill is a huge step in the cannabis industry and the medicinal uses of CBD in the United States, but it does not remove all of the barriers to production. The FDA still has authority to regulate products in cannabis. Anyone that is planning to sell CBD products must be extremely careful in marketing CBD as a cure or prevention of disease. This means that if you plan on starting a CBD company, make sure you are following the rules, or you could potentially be shut down.

As more and more companies pop up in this industry, it will be interesting to see what the FDA does in the next few years.

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