Earlier this month, a farm bill passed out of the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee included language legalizing hemp, signifying an important development for marketers of cannabinoids in natural products.
But there’s more work to be done.
A farm bill passed Thursday by the House of Representatives doesn’t incorporate hemp legislation.
Jonathan Miller, general counsel to the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, said there was no expectation the House version of the farm bill would include a hemp amendment. However, he’s bullish that a final version of the farm bill, negotiated between the House and Senate, will include the Hemp Farming Act of 2018.
“We are very optimistic that the hemp provisions will be retained in the Senate version in the farm bill, and are quite hopeful that when the House/Senate conference committee reconciles the two bills, that our advocates—most influentially, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell [R-Kentucky]—will secure the inclusion of the Hemp Farming Act in the final bill,” he said in an email.
The Hemp Farming Act would remove hemp—including cannabinoids and extracts—from the definition of a controlled substance. The bill “also gives states the opportunity to become the primary regulators of hemp production, allows hemp researchers to apply for competitive federal grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and makes hemp farmers eligible to apply for crop insurance,” McConnell’s office explained in a June 8 news release.
Before the June 13 vote on the farm bill by the Senate Agriculture Committee, a controversial amendment introduced by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) would have dealt a huge setback to marketers of cannabidiol (CBD) and other hemp-derived cannabinoids. The amendment would exclude cannabinoids from the definition of hemp, requiring the Attorney General to determine whether CBD should be classified as a controlled substance.
The Hemp Farming Act, Grassley contended, “would allow any snake oil salesman to market and sell any CBD product as a dietary supplement, or anything else without any regulatory controls whatsoever.”
Grassley’s measure was defeated, following vigorous opposition from McConnell and consumers.
“By securing my hemp provision in the farm bill, we are building upon the successes of the hemp pilot programs and encouraging the great potential of this versatile crop,” McConnell said in a statement following the vote by the Senate Agriculture Committee.