The 2018 farm bill passed with bipartisan support, and it’s a really big deal for the hemp industry. The bill set out to cover several issues, including the impact of new US-China trade tariffs on farmers, as well as potential changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
While it did implement subsidies for farmers and make minor changes to the food stamp program, perhaps the most significant result of the passing bill was the legalization of hemp.
This passing bill will lead to a whole new set of regulations that help provide safe, trusted hemp sources to consumers. This is good news for CBD users since the lack of regulation has caused some concern in the past. However, the passing of the farm bill is beneficial for more than just the cannabidiol market. With new legal guidelines and funding for hemp farmers, we are likely to see hemp used like never before, which could benefit the environment as a whole.
The farm bill was mostly pushed by farmers who were negatively impacted by the new US-China trade tariffs, but it outlined many different issues, including the legalization of hemp. The bill passed through the Senate and two days later President Trump signed the bill into law, removing hemp from the Controlled Substances Act. Hemp, defined as cannabis with less than 0.3% THC, has no psychoactive effects. Therefore, removing it from the list of Schedule 1 Substances (alongside heroin and LSD) only makes sense.
This is significant in that it sets a clear, definitive line between hemp and marijuana, which is known for its ability to produce psychoactive effects. There is some stigma placed on marijuana because of its ability to get you high. The clear line between the two will help to phase out this inaccurate stigma placed on hemp due to its association with the marijuana plant. This is good news for many, since hemp-based products may provide a slew of health benefits, like calming nerves and anxiety and promoting relief from pain and other chronic conditions.
The farm bill definitely benefits hemp farmers, but the benefits will trickle all the way down the industry to the consumer.
Of course, the USDA has not yet concluded how legal hemp will be regulated, and they’ve not hinted as to when we can expect regulations to be put in place. Regulations will include a reliable way to test the THC level in hemp plants, as well as a way to destroy any plants that test over the legal limit. Each state will still have some hand in designing local regulations, and each state is required to submit their plan to the USDA for approval.
Along with the legalization of the hemp plant, though, came the legalization of cannabinoid extractions from the plant. This could easily lead to an incline in other hemp-based products on the market, like CBG and CBN, which may have health benefits of their own.
This also brings a great benefit to the CBD industry, which does lack some regulations necessary to ensure the quality and safety of products. While most CBD producers strive to offer only quality products (and have their products tested in a third-party lab for purity and potency), hemp regulations will strengthen the cause. Some new regulations will require more thorough tests to identify any heavy metals, pesticides, or toxins created by mold.
Of course, the bill only passes the legal status to any CBD products made from legally grown, commercial hemp, and not to CBD products derived from marijuana. Those who benefit from CBD will now be able to feel more secure while purchasing commercially produced CBD products since the manner in which the hemp is produced and regulated will result in more consistent products. We can probably expect an increase in the market, too, which will open up a new line of options for CBD users.
Some price increase is to be expected, which is factored in because of the increased price for product testing. Some evidence suggests that quality testing could increase in price by 30-50% for some producers, which is expected to trickle down to the consumer. However, the price increase also comes with increased security, so it’s welcomed by most CBD users. It’s also expected to hit only the products that lack current regulations and testing hard, so if you are already using qualityCBD products, the total price may not be affected very much.
The FDA still retains rights over all food, drugs, and cosmetics, which prevents some producers from adding CBD to food or beauty products. The benefits of CBD are already being explored, and the passing of the 2018 farm bill will increase of ability to conduct some necessary research on the cannabinoid. However, the FDA still needs to climb on board before we can work on identifying cannabidiol’s medical potential.
Of course, the FDA isn’t necessarily against cannabis-based supplements either. In light of the new farm bill, theFDA is moving in on creating new regulatory framework for CBD products. FDA Commissioner Scot Gottlieb says “the FDA will continue to take steps to make the pathways for the lawful marketing of these products more efficient.” He also stated that the FDA “recognize(s) the potential opportunities that cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds could offer.”
Outside of the CBD and hemp-based supplement industry, there are still massive advantages to hemp’s legalization. Hemp can be used to produce many other commodities, from textiles to plastics.
Evidence suggests that it might be a particularly cost-efficient alternative to common textiles, like cotton. Other industries have keyed in on its advantages as a food item, which includes hemp seeds and oils that can be used in cooking.
An even more significant advantage might be hemp’s ability to be used as an alternative to plastics. Hemp’s fibers make it a great alternative to common plastic, and it is versatile and inexpensive to produce. Plus, hemp-based plastics are often biodegradable, which could really put a dent in the plastics littering our land and oceans.
For now, most commercial products that contain hemp only contain about30% natural sources, with the rest coming from fossil fuel and other non-renewable sources. New regulations and budget allocations might provide a foundation for hemp-related research. Many engineers are hoping to implement this research to unlock new and improved ways to utilize hemp’s sustainability, which should lead to an increase in hemp-based plastic products.
Of course, some trouble still stands in the way of all of the modern hemp innovations. Because hemp has long been identified as an illicit substance, there aren’t little to no living farmers who have any experience with the crop. Overall, most of what we hear about the new hemp market is only speculation. Nobody knows what to expect because we haven’t seen the widespread legal production of hemp in so long, and technology has drastically changed.
Because many farmers aren’t quite sure how to cultivate the crop, there’s sure to be some curve in the production over time. The farm bill’s language prohibits felons who were convicted of a drug crime from working with the plant for ten years after conviction. That means that many people who have experience with growing hemp’s sister plant, marijuana, won’t be able to lend a hand to the modern hemp industry for quite some time.
However, the hemp industry does have a lot of support from both political parties, as well as from CBD and hemp users all over the country. The farm bill is expected to benefit producers and consumers across the board, perhaps in many ways we can’t yet imagine.
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