On December 12, Congress passed the 2018 Farm Bill with the expectation that President Trump will sign it into law. Industrial hemp will be removed from the 1970 Controlled Substance Act as a Schedule I drug. However, marijuana still remains on that list. As a result, CBD made from hemp will now be federally legal. The bill also allows farmers to grow industrial hemp on a commercial scale. Previously, industrial hemp cultivation was almost entirely restricted to pilot programs and research. The times are achangin’ since it was Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell who spearheaded this development. This is a really big deal for the hemp and cannabis industries.
Here’s what it means:
- The Hemp Farming Act legalizes hemp and allows each state’s department of agriculture to oversee how it is grown, used and sold. Each state will decide whether or not to allow the sale of hemp based CBD products within its borders.
- Researchers can now apply for federal grants and hemp crops will be eligible for crop insurance.
- Hemp and its products can be transported across state lines, opening up interstate sales.
- The estimate for hemp cultivation is predicted to double or even triple within a year.
The US Department of Agriculture will be managing hemp production. Due to its previous status as a controlled substance, US hemp product manufacturers were forced to import hemp from Canada, China and Europe to meets their needs. In addition, hemp will join other agricultural commodities such as corn, soybeans, wheat and sugar, to be traded in the commodities market on Wall Street. Investors have been waiting for this development.
Despite the fact that CBD has been operating in a “legal gray area” for years with constant threats that CBD companies will be shut down by the government, the current US CBD market has generated $590 million this year alone. Due to its federally illegal status, the CBD industry has been kept relatively small with no oversight to control the quality of the products. Currently, there is no regulation of CBD products in the US market. CBD manufacturers have been operating with small marketing budgets and limited distribution avenues which has kept their product lines from growing into national brands.
With the passage of the Farm Bill, the prediction for the CBD market is an estimated $22 billion by 2022. There should be an explosion of CBD products making their way onto the shelves of large national companies as it gains a much more mainstream position in the drinks, home goods, beauty, pet, skin care and food industries. The challenge for many companies of integrity will be to remain true to providing a healthy, cannabinoid-based therapeutic product that is grown locally, with quality control and testing procedures in place.
It is important to note that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) still does not treat CBD as an approved food ingredient, additive or dietary supplement. It only allows the fiber and oil to be used in food products. However, now that hemp has become federally legal, the FDA will be forced to figure out how to regulate hemp and hemp-derived cannabinoid products in order to protect consumers.
Some hemp and cannabis industry experts see the legalization of hemp as the precursor to the federal legalization of cannabis. According to Derek Riedle, Publisher of Civilized, an online magazine which elevates the cannabis culture,
“Hemp is incredibly versatile,…and it’s had a bad reputation because of the stigma around marijuana. This is an extremely exciting time for the hemp industry…businesses are already strategizing on how to capitalize on it. The next 12 months will be interesting to watch as new players enter the industry and existing players grow exponentially.”
Quick Update on SB 336, The Opioids Bill and the Status of the Opioids Alternative Pilot Program (OAPP)
The program was supposed to have started on December 1, 2018. I spoke with Representative Kelly Cassidy who told me that the emergency rules were adopted on December 11, with access to the program on track for mid January. This has not been confirmed.
As far as I understand, patients can upload their materials to the IDPH website online. This includes a signed form from your doctor. You can print out your provisional registration and take that to a dispensary to purchase your product. This is valid for up to 90 days at a time while you are awaiting your permanent OAPP card. Fingerprinting and a background check are no longer required for either the MCPP or the OAPP.
Source: Consumerreports.org, Congress Approves Bill to Make CBD Federally Legal, Lisa Gill, 12/12/18
newstimes.com, Hemp and Cannabis Leaders Weigh In on the Farm Bill Headed To Trump’s Desk. Susan Gunelius, 12/13/18