Federal Industrial Hemp Reform on the Horizon Thumbnail

Federal Industrial Hemp Reform on the Horizon

Will the United States legalize industrial hemp this year? If Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell gets his way, the answer is yes.
As reported by Forbes contributor Tom Angell, McConnell recently disclosed that he intends to continue to fast-track his bill to legalize industrial hemp by attaching it to the must-pass 2018 Farm Bill, which is likely to be voted on by the Senate this month.
The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 takes a federalist approach to legalization of hemp, defined as cannabis (and its parts, seeds, derivatives, cannabinoids, etc.) with a THC content of less than 0.3 percent. Perhaps most importantly, the bill would also specifically remove hemp-and the limited THC present in it-from the Controlled Substances Act and allow states to set up their own commercial hemp programs. Those state programs would need to be approved by the United States Secretary of Agriculture and must incorporate:
  1. A practice to maintain information regarding land on which hemp is produced, for at least 3 years;
  2. A procedure for testing THC concentration of hemp;
  3. A procedure to effectively dispose of non-compliant hemp products; and
  4. A procedure to take enforcement actions where operators violate state or federal laws regarding production of hemp.
The bill also includes provisions to encourage hemp research and to permit hemp cultivators to obtain crop insurance.
This is not McConnell's first attempt to reform federal hemp laws. Indeed, he added language to the 2014 Farm Bill that permitted states to implement limited hemp research programs. In 2017 alone, the program put into place in Kentucky-McConnell's home state-generated $16 million in revenue after more than 3,200 acres were used to grow hemp.
Many analysts are bullish on demand for industrial hemp, given its wide variety of uses. For instance, in addition to the medical benefits of hemp-derived CBD oil, hemp can be used to create insulation, concrete (commonly known as "hempcrete), carpet, paint, lubricants, cosmetics, clothes, biofuel, paper products, and other materials. Hemp can also be used by farmers as part of a crop rotation program to detoxify soil and prevent erosion.
If you have any questions about federal hemp reform, please contact Tom Haren or any other member of the Frantz Ward Marijuana Law & Policy team.

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